Organisational Voice in the World of AI

May 24, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers many advantages to educators and students alike, easy text generation, quick editing hints, automated note taking, and more, each offering benefits as well as their own new challenges to match. It is up to each of us to decide how much we incorporate these workflows into our daily routines, while those in leadership positions face a pressing question; What is the role of AI in my organisation?

This is no longer a question of possibilities. What role could AI play in my organisation? That is the question of the naive leader. If leaders do not set policies on how to effectively use technologies, including AI, staff will use them as they see fit. Perhaps in ways that are difficult to track, or do not serve the organisation’s interests. Furthermore, the rapid introduction of these new technologies forces us to develop processes, policies and procedures quickly in order to accommodate them.

Generative AIs (ChatGPT, Bard, Claude, and more) however, offer value beyond just answering questions and generating text. When implemented well, and embedded within an organisation’s workflow, it can be trained how to speak, and can act as a megaphone for your best speakers. Imagine being able to extend the voice of your best communicators across your organisation, or having a tool that can reliably serve your school, regardless of staff turnover or capacity.

Automated Consistency

Churn and variety are two unique characteristics of international schools, which bring innovation and differences, but also introduce distinct challenges. Whether it is new staff coming in, or employees who do not natively speak the school’s primary language of communication, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent organisational voice.

Organisational voice describes how the organisation communicates, both internally and externally. Whether these are report cards, notices, class updates, information sessions, or any of the other multitudinous categories of communication that schools send out, ensuring a consistent voice across messages is critical.

Two teachers or divisions that communicate with distinctly different levels of quality, frequency, or even length, will naturally draw comparisons from parents, comparisons that if challenged, can lead to complicated and difficult conversations, as well as the proliferation of convoluted editorial processes.

Generative AI, if implemented well, can offer consistency without necessitating coordination. It introduces a paradigmatic shift that empowers leadership to set up models that understand an organisation’s voice, and can be used easily by staff to generate organisationally consistent and appropriate text.

The decision to introduce a standardised organisational voice however, comes at the cost of teacher and staff individuality. It is up to an organisation to decide in which contexts consistent narratives are more valuable than personalised ones, and also to weigh what is lost against what is gained.

Report comments, for example, take a long time to write, prepare, edit, and administer, but they are also an opportunity for teachers to connect individually with each student, and offer a personalised comment on their learning progress.

Could this time be spent in ways that better support student learning, or is the written comment an artefact greater than what could be produced by a machine? Have you tried before coming to a conclusion?

Do the quantitative grades and assessments reflect learning well enough to generate a narrative, or is it soulless without the teacher?

The answers to these questions are left to each organisation, and are not ones to be reached uncritically or without consideration.

At Faria, we recognise that this is a decision unique to each school and organisation, but if AI is brought into common practice, management should be empowered to shape its use and have oversight, all whilst helping to ease teacher workload.

Accountability and Oversight

Once a school has decided to incorporate AI into their processes, it is critical that they are able to evaluate its use, and ensure that there remains accountability for what is generated. Generated text should never be sent directly to parents or students; instead, there must be a person of responsibility, an editor, who approves and signs off on the generated work and approves it. These new services are tools, and must always be implemented as such. If a letter is distributed that is offensive or inappropriate, blame cannot be placed on the machine that generated it, but the finger that pressed send.

By establishing an organisational policy on the use of AI, and leveraging technologies like ManageBac which embed accountability and oversight into their AI offerings, schools can establish a consistent voice while also embedding review and accountability into their workflow.

We gain accountability by simply ensuring that:

  1. AI use is transparent and visible
  2. It is easy to see if generated text has been edited and changed
  3. Users verify that material has been reviewed and approved

Without these pillars, AI use in an organisation will be opaque and unmanageable. It will be difficult for management to identify what has or hasn’t been produced by their staff, track edits, or balance workloads.

Automation to Save What is Lost

No one will argue that educators have too much time on their hands or too small a work remit. In schools, one of the biggest constraints holding back innovation is time. Teachers work long hours to get through the minimum required of them, there is often little time to innovate, prepare a new and exciting project, explore new content, or design creative and engaging lessons.

If we can find ways to not only improve the average quality of output throughout an organisation, but to also free up teachers to spend more time devoted to their craft and their students, then strategically embracing this is the only option.

When discovering the role of AI within your organisation, look first to where time is lost and frustrations run high. Automation, best served, is in driving productivity. For organisations such as schools, which are more like communities than businesses, we serve our teachers best by minimising frustration and empowering them to best meet the needs of their students.

Survey your staff to establish:

  1. How they spend their time each week, and on what?
    • Look at this across different periods of the school year, including start of term, reporting, end of year, etc.
    • What time is spent in service of students, of parents, of curriculum, of administrative duties?
  2. What parts of work bring the most frustration?
  3. What parts of work feel pointless or less valuable uses of time?

The answers to these questions will allow you to begin to see where automation and generative AI fits within your organisation.

To automate something that a craftsperson takes pride in, is to disempower that person and breed resentment. To automate the drudgery that is holding someone back is to lead that person to bring a greater level of service to your organisation.

A Tool to be Sharpened

Technology evolves at a rapid pace, and new features are added to the tools we use all the time. What sets these language models apart, is that we can actively shape how they are used. As an organisation, we can decide how to implement these tools, and then leverage the oversight we have established to refine their use. These language models are neither static, nor out of our control.

Teachers who feel disempowered by automation, can be repositioned to guide and shape the organisational voice. By leveraging the strength of our best communicators, we can extend their capacities throughout our organisation, empowering them with a new leadership role, while simultaneously improving the quality of all communications.

AI positioned to replace teachers and gap fill will bring weakness into an organisation – from accountability to reliability to value. AI replacing people will be an organisational net negative that is perceived poorly by parents, resented by staff, and will diminish the value delivered to students.

AI that has been positioned to help an organisation consistently deliver its best, to free up staff from time sinks so that they can build curriculum, conference with students, and implement interventions, is a huge positive. It is one however that is only attained through review, employee empowerment, and strategic implementation.

The Road Ahead

Schools and organisations are now realising the role that AI will play in their processes and workflows.

Those who use it effectively will amplify their best across the organisation while relieving the rest to shine in their own areas of expertise.Others will find cost savings at the price of employee happiness and educational quality.

And still others will fail to innovate, spending more to produce less, while their students miss out on the skills necessary to engage with a rapidly changing world.

The remit is large, but organisations that leverage tools to help them take advantage of this new technology, while maintaining oversight and accountability, will thrive.

About the Author


Ryan Tannenbaum

Ryan specializes in making data work for schools, instead of the other way around (where schools work for their data). He works closely with Faria Education Group as a consultant, looking at how to bring data and other innovative technologies into schools to serve all stakeholders.

You can see more examples of his work at his website For.Education