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AI at Aiglon: Where Are We Going?

AI at Aiglon: Where Are We Going?
AI at Aiglon: Where Are We Going?

Aiglon, like other schools and organisations worldwide, has spent the last year exploring what Artificial Intelligence (AI) means for us and how our students and staff can benefit from this amazing technological advance.

In this exploration, we have discovered that AI is not just a tool for analysing large data sets, planning a weekend break to Paris or cheating on your prep; it’s transformative and can unlock many possibilities. Adopting a stance of openness to what's possible with AI has enabled us to explore a range of use cases and tools in both our classrooms and offices.

Computer Science is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the departments to first embrace the possibility of AI. Chat GPT, Bard and other AI tools provide excellent coding companions, where students can ask for AI to suggest code, debug code or improve the code they have written. No coders start a project from zero; they have access to open source information, libraries, past projects and Google. AI has been added as an additional resource, and students have become more comfortable discussing how AI has guided or refined their coding. Students have also been asked to generate videos using AI, create notes for revision and actively use AI to test their understanding of various computing topics ready for tests and examinations. The power of AI as a tutor, a study buddy, and a guide is seemingly limitless.

However, this is only the beginning. Other departments have also been exploring AI within their classrooms. For example, students use the Adobe Express ‘text to image’ feature or DAL- E 2 as a learning prompt to create images that can then be described in various languages or act as a writing prompt. Students have also written AI prompts in their second language with mixed and often amusing results. Teaching departments have also used AI tools like Diffit to instantly create differentiated learning materials or tools like MagicSchool AI or Twee to instantly create targeted questions to assess students' understanding of YouTube clips they have been directed to watch.

Lyndon Evans, our Head of Visual Arts, recently facilitated “A Discussion on the Use of AI in Visual Arts” at the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS) Arts Teacher Conference in Lausanne. Sharing his experiences and application of AI as a teacher at AIglon with teachers from other schools and, in turn, learning from their experiences. There are not many industries in the world that share ideas and practise so openly as educators do.

Another area of Aiglon to embrace the potential of AI is our Center for Enquiry (CFE) or library. The CFE’s philosophy on this new technology is best summed up by Library Manager Melanie Myford, who believes that we all must be open to these adjustments and embrace AI. The CFE is a well-resourced, co-working space where students and teachers research, study and learn together independently or guided by our excellent CFE staff. The CFE is very much the heartbeat of academics at Aiglon. The team have run AI-focused training sessions for staff and, more recently, has been developing GPTs to help students navigate the Extended Essay, grade certain essays and make simple book summaries so that students can quickly find books that match their interests and likes. All Aiglon students have attended talks and lessons about how best to use AI, many of these sessions have been designed by the CFE staff.

Recently, we have increased the number of Aiglon staff trialling chat GPT Plus, with at least one staff member from every academic or administrative team across the school now having access. Administrative staff have been encouraged to explore how Chat GPT and custom GPTs can streamline administrative tasks. Early in this trial, staff identified that Chat GPT is an excellent tool for starting a project or piece of writing, summarising significant amounts of data, changing the tone of an email, or asking ‘what if’ questions. What does seem clear is that the more AI technology develops, it will increasingly make existing systems seem slow and cumbersome.

Aiglon’s Director of Educational Systems, Charlotte Chamberlin, raised this in a recent survey. “In many ways, it is a frustrating time. AI sets high expectations. So, on the one hand, you can ask it to do the seemingly impossible, and it comes back with results in seconds. On the other hand, we are still using legacy technology alongside AI and by comparison, it looks even more antiquated than it ever did before."

As Aiglon continues alongside the whole world to explore the potential of AI, it seems increasingly likely that foundational processes and skills across the education sector, and more specifically examination systems, that have been valued and tested for centuries will feel even more frustrating and antiquated. For so many years, the traditional examination system has valued knowledge retention, writing skills, comprehension, and recall. AI can already perform many of these skills better than humans and will only get better and better. In a Web3, semantic and interconnected world, why would we continue to examine our young people against 20th-century skills, using a nineteenth-century approach?

As it has done for 75 years, Aiglon will continue to focus on the balanced development of mind, body and spirit. It will seek to develop students of character and explore alternative ways in which we can prepare our amazing students for a life worth living. AI has the potential to radically alter the way educators approach teaching, learning, and assessment and ignite a global debate about what education should and could be by the middle of the century. Today, the future is here. It’s time to be brave, talk about what education looks like in this future world and then make it happen.

Darren Wise, Director of IT

 

 

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