Safety first as schools trial new purpose-built AI tool for students

The app designed by the NSW Department of Education will be trialled in 16 public schools.

The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of school bags hanging on a wall. The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of school bags hanging on a wall.

A new purpose-built generative artificial intelligence (AI) app designed by the NSW Department of Education will begin to be trialled this term in 16 NSW public schools.

The app, called NSWEduChat, is built for use in education and suitable for school-aged children, unlike many commercially available AI apps.

Designed to be safe and ethical for use in schools, NSWEduChat is also directly relevant and appropriate for NSW classrooms, in line with key principles outlined in the Australian Framework for Generative Artificial Intelligence in Schools, which all Education Ministers agreed to in October.

Staff and students from 16 NSW public schools – 10 high schools, four primary schools, one School for Specific Purposes and one Environmental Education Centre – will participate in the trial of NSWEduChat over the first two terms of 2024.

Teachers will decide how they use the tool in their classrooms and students will also have access to the app via the department’s student portal.

Trial participants will receive assistance and support from subject matter experts, professional learning and technical resources and a virtual staffroom.

The trial will be monitored and reviewed with the results to help inform the future direction of AI in NSW public schools.

Key safety and security features of the app include:

Data security

  • The app is privately secured which ensures data is controlled by, and only visible to, the department. This safeguards against potential breaches of data security and privacy issues associated with the use of publicly available generative AI apps.
  • Department control of NSWEduChat app means that the responses generated are aligned with NSW and Australian curriculums and the department’s values and policies.

Embedded safeguards

  • The app only responds to students’ questions that relate to school activities and education-related topics and uses content filtering and topic restriction. It has embedded safeguards to monitor and remove inappropriate content.
  • It does not reveal full answers to students. NSWEduChat encourages critical thinking by asking guided questions and inviting students to reason on the outcome of their questions, instead of providing direct answers.
  • It also provides higher-quality, more accurate support for free that is currently only available through premium-paid AI tools.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“Generative AI is rapidly evolving and offers both challenges and opportunities – and, like many sectors, education is already seeing the impact of new AI tools and practices. 

“As one of the world’s largest providers of public education, I’m proud that NSW has developed NSWEduChat, a safe and secure tool with great potential to enhance learning and give students valuable hands-on experience with this game-changing technology.

“This trial is an important first step in safely navigating generative AI for use in schools, while upholding safety, security and best practice for our students and teachers.”

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