Opportunities and Challenges in Independent Schools
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next disruptive technology for education. It will require schools to be more thoughtful and creative in designing assessments and structuring learning. It may also help us do our jobs as educators. AI tools are already being used for everything from grading essays to providing personalized learning experiences. But what does AI mean for high school students? Is it a friend or a foe?
AI has the potential to change education in several ways. Here are just a few examples:
- Thinking Partner: AI Chatbots can be a valuable thinking partner for students because they can engage them in dialogue, provide feedback, challenge their thinking, and offer resources and support to help them succeed.
- Adaptive Learning: AI can be used to create adaptive learning programs that adjust the difficulty level of the material based on the student's performance. This can help students to learn more effectively and avoid getting frustrated or bored.
- Repetitive Tasks: AI can help us with repetitive tasks like writing directions and instructions, writing simple emails, copy editing, scheduling, and drafting formulaic business documents, and even writing lesson plans.
While AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for learning, there are also some potential risks associated with its use in education. Here are a few examples:
- Cheating & Plagiarism: AI tools can generate essays, solve math problems, and complete other assignments without actually learning the material. This can lead to an increase in cheating and plagiarism among students.
- Bias: AI algorithms are trained on data, and if that data is biased, the AI system will replicate those biases in its output. We see this already in facial recognition technology.
- Privacy Concerns: AI systems collect and analyze a significant amount of data on students, including their performance, behavior, and personal information. There is a need to ensure that this data is handled securely and with appropriate privacy safeguards in place.
- False Information: AI tools make up answers, including sources. Remember, this technology is just making predictions about the next logical word. It doesn’t know everything and will make up an answer when it doesn’t have the information it needs.
Both students and parents can play a role in ensuring that AI is used responsibly in high school. Here are a few tips:
- Use AI tools to supplement your learning, not replace it. AI tools can be a great way to get extra practice or review material, but can’t replace traditional learning activities such as reading, writing, and discussing ideas with your teacher and classmates.
- Be aware of the potential for cheating and plagiarism. Talk to your teachers about their expectations for AI use on assignments.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling with a particular concept or assignment, don't be afraid to ask your teacher or classmates for help. AI tools can be a great resource, but they cannot replace your teachers.
- Talk to your student about AI. Familiarize yourself with AI tools and their risks and benefits.
- Check in with your student to see how they are using AI tools and to make sure that they are using them appropriately.
- When in doubt, encourage your student to talk with their teacher about appropriate use of AI tools.
At The Governor’s Academy, we have had a lot of conversations about AI, its risks and opportunities in a variety of spaces on campus. Our independent school faculty have spent considerable time doing research, participating in industry discussions, and playing with AI tools. Many teachers have introduced AI in class assignments, and had conversations with students about appropriate use. Our academic affairs committee is currently working on incorporating appropriate AI use and guidelines into our academic honesty policy. What we are not doing is burying our heads in the sand and hoping it goes away.
Author: Aaron Mandel, Director of Information Technology