The future is now: Discovering ways to embrace AI

In a rapidly changing world, it is imperative we find ways to embrace new technology.

That’s the message from Blackfriars Principal David Ruggiero, who, with Deputy Principal Brett Knowles, is examining the use of AI (artificial intelligence) and its potential in a school setting.

Mr Ruggiero said rather than introducing a blanket ban on the use of AI – such as ChatGPT and Firefly – Blackfriars was working to find ways to incorporate the technology to enhance student learning.

“When my children are grown up, AI will be part of their working lives; that’s the reality,” Mr Ruggiero said.

“The key message from the school is to move with AI. It’s not an option to ban it, because it’s going to be a significant part of our students’ lives as the years go on.

“The technology is incredible – and we are only in the early stages of accessible generative AI. We are living in exciting times and we need to embrace it.

“The quest for truth is at the heart of a Dominican education and applying truthful discernment is critical for AI.”

Blackfriars is developing policies and procedures around the use of AI in the classroom.

Mr Knowles was now working with Digital Technologies Coordinator Jak Francis and Director of Learning Engagement and Pathways Carl Todman to develop policies and procedures around student and staff use of AI.

“We obviously have to consider the ethical issues around AI … but also how we can teach the students to use it, and use it well; how we can tweak some tasks and redesign tasks to include AI,” Mr Knowles said.

“We (staff) have to get our own understanding of it so we can teach and help the boys use it appropriately.

“It’s a significant change – just like the introduction of calculators was, and research on the internet – that we have to work through and adjust as time goes on.”

In January, Catholic Education South Australia announced it would allow the use of AI in schools, except during exams and tests. Other states, such as Queensland and New South Wales, banned the use of ChatGPT.

The Australian Human Rights Commission recently made a submission to the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training’s inquiry into the Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in the Australian Education System.

“Australian schools must not only prepare for greater adoption of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in how they teach – but also educate people on how to use that technology safely,” the Commission said.

“Generative AI has the potential to transform learning and improve educational outcomes, but only if AI is used ethically.

“While generative AI tools may be able to replace some of the tasks that teachers currently perform, this technology is best used to enhance teaching.

“It cannot replace the indispensable role of human interaction and cooperation, which must remain at the heart of education in Australia.”


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