Navigating the Future of AI-Powered Learning: Nurture's Approach to UNESCO's Recommendations

June 21, 2024
June 21, 2024
Emer Cunningham
School Engagement at Nurture


The emergence of generative AI has firmly cemented its presence in the education sector. School principals and policymakers now find themselves navigating uncharted territory, tasked with developing policies that harness the potential of AI while mitigating its risks. As this landscape continues to evolve, a critical starting point is UNESCO's 'Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research' - a seminal document that offers a framework for responsible and ethical integration of these technologies.

As UNESCO states, "the guidance stresses the need for educational institutions to validate GenAI systems on their ethical and pedagogical appropriateness for education. It calls on the international community to reflect on their long-term implications for knowledge, teaching, learning and assessment." This call underscores the pivotal role that institutions must play in ensuring the judicious deployment of generative AI.

Against this backdrop, we will examine Nurture's AI (the Nurture Assistant) through the lens of UNESCO's guidance, considering its alignment with the principles of ethical and pedagogical appropriateness, as well as its implications for teaching, learning, and assessment. By anchoring our analysis in this authoritative framework, we can gain valuable insights into how Nurture's AI-powered solutions can contribute to a future where generative technologies empower and enrich the educational landscape.

1. Ethical Appropriateness

UNESCO's Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research places a strong emphasis on the ethical appropriateness of these technologies. Understandably, teachers have significant concerns about the implications of AI on student data privacy and the potential erosion of human interaction in the learning process.

Surveys conducted by the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland and Forbes Advisor in the United States have shed light on these worries. In the Irish survey, 91% of teachers expressed a desire to learn more about AI's use in education, while 80% harboured ethical concerns about data harvesting. Similarly, the US survey found that 42% of teachers were worried about data privacy and security, and 62% were concerned about the reduced human interaction in learning.

Nurture is acutely aware of these valid concerns raised by educators. In response, we have established an Enterprise agreement with OpenAI, which ensures that data from Nurture's platform, including user data from both teachers and students, will not be used by OpenAI for training purposes. This commitment to data privacy and security sets Nurture's AI offerings apart from other platforms, such as ChatGPT, where the handling of user data may be less transparent.

By aligning our practices with the ethical principles outlined in UNESCO's guidance, Nurture is committed to developing AI solutions that prioritise the well-being and trust of both teachers and students. This approach not only addresses the pressing concerns raised by the education community but also paves the way for the responsible integration of generative AI technologies in the classroom.

2. Pedagogical Appropriateness

Nurture has consistently adopted a pedagogy-first, technology-second approach, and this foundational principle has only been strengthened with the introduction of AI through the Nurture Assistant. The Nurture Assistant is seamlessly integrated into various stages of the formative assessment and feedback process, serving as a powerful tool to create assessments aligned with teachers' curricula, generate rubrics in seconds, grade work based on past marking schemes, and produce feedback in line with the recommendations of Black and Wiliam for effective feedback.

Nurture's approach to feedback is heavily informed by the research of Black and Wiliam (2006), which investigates the link between assessment, feedback, learning, and student achievement. The Nurture Assistant is instructed to deliver feedback that adheres to the key principles outlined by Black and Wiliam: ensuring the feedback aligns with the intended learning goals and success criteria, providing feedback on the process rather than just the outcome, and offering guidance on the next steps.

The capabilities of AI enable the Nurture Assistant to differentiate feedback in innovative ways, such as providing bilingual feedback, customising feedback to various reading levels, and incorporating a focus on social-emotional skills. This level of personalization and specificity was previously not feasible, empowering teachers to deliver feedback that is more impactful and aligned with the diverse needs of their students.

In this regard, Nurture's use of AI through the Nurture Assistant truly redefines the assessment and feedback process, while maintaining a strong pedagogical foundation. The Nurture Assistant functions not as a standalone AI tool, but rather as an AI-assisted pedagogical solution that guides teachers in delivering high-quality, time-efficient feedback directly aligned with the curriculum and intended to improve student outcomes.

3. Implications for Teaching and Learning

Grounded in pedagogy, Nurture's AI-assisted Nurture Assistant has numerous positive implications for teaching and learning, including a reduction in teacher workload and an improvement in student outcomes.

Nurture's use of AI enables teachers to provide high-quality feedback in less time. On average, it takes our teachers 2 minutes and 20 seconds to grade and give feedback on individual students' work using Nurture, meaning a whole class of 24 students can be completed in 56 minutes, significantly reducing the time burden on teachers. This style of feedback has a visible impact on student outcomes. As one of our Nurture teachers expressed, "in a group of students who used Nurture and re-drafted their work, 18 out of 21 students enhanced their results in the second draft with improvements ranging from 4% to 40%".

Nurture is also dedicated to enhancing the feedback loop through the mechanism of reflection. When students submit their work, they assess their confidence in their performance and provide a reflective comment on their assessment process. They highlight the challenges or enjoyable aspects, explain their feelings, and disclose the resources they used. This reflective comment is then leveraged by the Nurture Assistant to tailor the feedback provided to the student, completing the feedback loop in a personalised manner that meets the student's needs. As one of our Nurture Expert Teachers, Janet (an English and history teacher in Kinsale Community School), shared, "what I like about Nurture is that it opens up a conversation with the students about reflection in how it is laid out". After using Nurture for a year, Janet observed a drastic improvement in the quality of her students' work and their ability to reflect.

4. Implications for Assessment

"Formative assessment represents evidence-based instructional decision-making. If you want to be more instructionally effective, and if you want your students to achieve more, then formative assessment should be for you"
James Popham, Transformative Assessment, 2008

According to James Popham, "formative assessment represents evidence-based instructional decision-making. If you want to be more instructionally effective, and if you want your students to achieve more, then formative assessment should be for you". Nurture understands that teachers have always used the tools of formative assessment and feedback in their teaching- our AI-assisted software allows teachers to enhance their existing practices using technology that is research-driven and pedagogically sound.

The Nurture Assistant allows teachers to create assessments aligned with their curriculum in seconds using our 'curriculum boundary' assessment creation tool. Rather than having to search through curricular documents and past exam papers, teachers can quickly and easily create assessments that they know are directly taken from the curriculum within Nurture. 

Furthermore, Nurture's AI-assisted rubric creation tool allows teachers to create rubrics that are aligned with the curriculum instantly. According to one of our Nurture teachers, creating a rubric traditionally would "take me at least 30 minutes. With Nurture, it took me seconds" (Nurture teacher, St. Peter's Community School). In this way, Nurture uses AI to save time for teachers while making the creation of assessments more convenient and equally as effective.


UNESCO's 'Guidelines on Generative AI in Education and Research' is certainly a must-have tool for principals and teachers as they explore the role of AI in classrooms around the world. The potential of AI in education is overwhelmingly positive, yet it can also be overwhelming to navigate. At Nurture, we are proud to be an AI-assisted software company that promotes the human connection between teachers and students, while ensuring our usage of technology is ethically and pedagogically appropriate.

As we continue to explore the role of AI in classrooms, it is crucial that we do so with a strong grounding in pedagogy and a commitment to ethical practices. The Nurture Assistant exemplifies this approach, combining the latest advancements in AI technology with a deep understanding of effective teaching and learning strategies. By putting the needs of students and teachers first, we can harness the transformative potential of AI to enhance the educational experience for all.