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What’s so good about AI?

Leading schools are discovering how to bring out the best that artificial intelligence has to offer.

NEWS 23 Apr 2024

The brave new world of artificial intelligence is stirring up plenty of debate and Haileybury is a leader in discussions about AI and its potential impacts on the world of education.

From ChatGPT and using AI to generate images and practice exam questions, Haileybury students have been exploring the benefits of AI and how the technology can be harnessed to help solve some of society’s problems.

Recently, Year 9 students were the first cohort to take part in a new program called AI for Good. Developed by Michelle Dennis, Head of Digital, and Science teacher and Head of Personal Excellence, Rebecca Balsim, AI for Good helped students understand how the technology works, the ethics of AI and how it can be best applied

Students also explored what kinds of skills are essential for using AI technologies and just how much AI can do to support their studies. A key focus of AI for Good was on using AI to develop ideas and inventions that could help people in need.

“The underlying idea is to teach students how to use AI properly, so it advantages them and becomes a tool that benefits their study skills. It also gets them thinking more deeply about AI and its possibilities — beyond being a tool to help them get their work done”
Rebecca Balsim, Head of Personal Excellence

As part of the program, students discovered how ChatGPT could be used to give them prompts to help them practice essay writing or provide practice mathematics questions to help with revision.

They also learned about the flipside of AI and how it can be misused, by creating fake videos for example.

“Some students didn’t realise that AI could create fake videos without the people in the videos knowing anything about them. They learned that if you put your picture on the internet, potentially someone can take that image and use AI to make a fake video. They realised that AI itself is not negative, it depends on who is using it and how.”

Showcasing how AI can be used for good, students used AI to develop ideas on inventions that help rather than harm.

“One group developed the idea for a handheld food allergy testing device that could be taken to restaurants to scan food. It would let the user know if food contained nuts or gluten for example,” says Rebecca.

Food allergy testing device
The students identified the issue "for many people with food allergies, ordering and purchasing food can be tough when be conscious of the ingredients it some everyday food items" so they designed a nimble handheld device plan that scans food within seconds to tell the user whether there were allergens present in the meal or not.

“Another student created a medical device to support people with spinal injuries, and another group developed a concept for a robot that would clear up rubbish at the beach. This demonstrated that AI can be used to develop their ideas and creativity to achieve some amazing results.”

Spinal medical device
This project identified a need to aid medical technology using AI, especially for people with spinal issues. This group wanted to design a spinal pressure sensor which would allow paralysed people to be able to walk and move again, relieve neurological distress and be able to advance prosthetics.
Robots for rubbish collection
This group wanted to create a sustainability app, focusing on our environment and devised a trash collecting robot. This robot would collect rubbish washed up on beaches. They also discussed creating a robot that could be dropped into the water (in the deeper ocean) to collect free floating rubbish.

Michelle Dennis, Head of Digital at Haileybury believes that, with the right guidance, AI can broaden learning, encourage creativity and critical thinking, and make better use of teaching and study times.

To underpin how AI is used across Haileybury’s classrooms, the school has developed five guiding principles: academic integrity, critical thinking and ethics, privacy and security, creative uses, and key skills.

Academic integrity encourages students to acknowledge the use of ChatGPT and other AI platforms for assignments, and teachers are also using products with AI detectors to support academic integrity.

“Critical thinking is focused on students being able to pull apart AI and think about concepts, results and potential biases”
Michelle Dennis, Head of Digital

To ensure privacy and security, students are reminded not to submit personal information when using AI platforms and only approved platforms can be used within school.

“From a creativity perspective, we are training students to find ways to use AI to help them learn better and add value to their learning. Finally, we don’t want AI to take over the development of foundational skills, such as mathematical and writing skills. So, while embracing AI, we want students to have opportunities to develop key skills for success later on,” says Michelle.

“AI is undoubtedly changing jobs now and into the future and the way to protect students in that dramatically shifting world is to make sure they know how to use AI. As educators, we can give students digital citizenship as well as an ability to talk about the consequences of AI and how society can put guardrails around it. We’re just at the beginning of seeing what can be done with AI in schools.”