Secondary School Principal
March 30, 2023
At ISY, we aim to develop lifelong learners who will be a force for positive change in the world. This is our school’s Vision statement.
To be lifelong learners, our students will need to learn to apply the knowledge and skills that they are learning now to an unknown future. As teachers, it is our responsibility to help them learn how to do that.
Recently, we have revised our school’s strategic themes. These themes will guide us in our commitment to fulfilling our Vision for our students. One of these themes is Learning as summarized by this very future focused strategic theme statement:
ISY embodies a student centered learning program that encourages adaptation and innovation to meet the challenges of the future.
It is through the lens of our future focused vision statement and Learning strategic theme, that we view technology and the role it plays in the learning process at ISY.
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model that is designed to respond to users prompts and questions in a human-like conversational manner. This means that instead of just providing links to where you might be able to find information to answer a question as a search engine like Google does, ChatGPT can answer a question in human-like language in a variety of ways as requested by the user.
ChatGPT is a very powerful tool and, as with any powerful tool, students and teachers must use it with care and for the right purpose. How and why ChatGPT might be used in the classroom is something schools around the world have been thinking about a lot lately. At ISY we have been thinking about this in terms of our future focused Vision for our students.
Below is a summary of ISY’s approach to the integration of new technology into the learning process. While this was developed as we considered the role of ChatGPT in our classrooms, this approach can be applied to any technology. We have used the acronym LEARN to organize our thinking:
Limitations: All technology has limitations. Do we know what these are? Do we know what it can do?
ChatGPT can be used in many different ways to help our students learn. Teachers can use it to create personalized learning experiences for students based on their learning needs. Students can use it to practice and improve language skills including grammar, sentence structure and general writing. It can be used to brainstorm ideas about an issue or act as a virtual tutor or learning partner for a student to deepen their understanding of an idea. It can also provide feedback on student writing.
However, when using ChatGPT to help students learn, we must be mindful of its significant limitations. It lacks our human common sense and emotional intelligence. This can lead to responses that are inaccurate even though they appear very convincing. ChatGPT is trained on a fixed set of data sourced from the internet. Because ChatGPT’s expertise is limited to the data that it is trained on, it does not have expertise in many areas of knowledge and the expertise it does have might be outdated. ChatGPT does not check if the data it is using to reply to a prompt is reliable. This means that it can generate incorrect or misleading information which can be biased and perpetuate stereotypes.
The artificial intelligence of ChatGPT is limited and we must not consider it to be a replacement for human intelligence and our ability to use common sense and think critically. We must remember ChatGPT’s limitations and it is our responsibility to ensure that anything produced by ChatGPT is reliable. We can do this by employing common sense and critical thinking – two very human attributes that are becoming more and more important as artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent. We have recognized this at ISY and Critical Thinking has been an ISY Learner Attribute for many years.
Expectations: The International Baccalaureate (and ISY) expects us to produce genuine and authentic pieces of work that represent our own abilities. This does not change when a new technology comes along.
A valid concern in relation to writing tools such as ChatGPT is the possibility that students might use the tool to cheat on assignments – i.e. attempt to pass off the work of ChatGPT as their own. Cheating is not a technological problem but technology such as ChatGPT makes it easier for students to cheat and increases the temptation for them to do so.
For years, ISY teachers and students have used anti-cheating software to identify when students have credited the work of others as their own. This software is evolving to keep up with ChatGPT and it will continue to be used at ISY.
While anti-cheating software is an important tool to identify cheating in the work that students produce to be assessed, it is just as important that we remove the temptation for students to cheat during the learning process. We do this by teaching students about the importance of academic honesty, how to credit the work of others, and the consequences of claiming someone else’s work as their own. We also place a lot of emphasis on forming trusting relationships with our students. Trusting relationships and inclusive instructional practices encourage students to ask for help when they need it rather than being tempted to rely on ChatGPT.
Working closely with our students during the learning process and giving feedback throughout provides us with a fair and accurate assessment of the ability of each student. If a student produces a piece of work at the end of a unit that is very different to what we have assessed their ability to be during the learning process, we will inquire carefully into whether that product is in fact their genuine and authentic work. Generally speaking, the temptation to cheat on an assignment is greatly reduced if a student knows that a teacher has a good understanding of what they are capable of during the learning process.
As teachers did when Wikipedia and Google started, we will also continue to adapt our assessments to ensure that we are able to make a fair and accurate assessment of what our students understand. Adaptive assessments might make use of the new technology to focus on skills that our students will need to develop for the future. Or adaptive assessments might ask students to explain their thinking in more traditional ways. Regardless of how we do it, knowing our students as learners during the learning process is essential in the production of genuine and authentic pieces of work that represent our students’ abilities.
Assistance: Does the new technology assist us in the process of producing genuine and authentic pieces of work that represent our own abilities?
Technology can help or hinder learning. The effectiveness of integrating technology into the learning process is determined by why and how we use it. Technology integration has long been a strategic theme at ISY and our teachers are adept at deciding when using technology will help students in the learning process.
One key consideration in making these important instructional decisions is whether the technology removes an opportunity for a student to learn the skill that is being taught. ChatGPT must not replace the process which students need to learn to independently produce their own authentic and genuine work. It can, however, be integrated into the process to support the development of skills and strengthen student understanding. For example, it can be integrated into the learning process to generate ideas and provide feedback to help students develop and learn new writing skills that they can apply to their own work.
Responsibility: Are we using the new technology responsibly? Are we using it ethically?
The limited data that ChatGPT is trained on can lead to responses that are biased. ChatGPT lacks our common sense and emotional intelligence so it is our responsibility to identify and counter that bias in our work as teachers and students. As teachers, we need to be aware of our own biases and those of our students. We will continue to teach our students objective research skills in evaluating the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources. These are very important skills for any compassionate global citizen and lifelong learner.
New Knowledge: Are we using it to demonstrate new knowledge or a new depth of knowledge?
Merriam-Webster defines learning as ‘knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study.’ It therefore follows that ChatGPT is an effective educational tool when students are acquiring new knowledge and new skills through its integration into the learning process.
This is the ultimate test of any educational technology – does it help students learn?
The International School Yangon
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The 5th Annual ISY Fundraising Gala is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 30, 2024, at the PARKROYAL Hotel Yangon and will be in their Yadanar Ballroom starting from 6:00 pm. The theme will be The Garden of Hope. The Gala supports and links to ISY’s strategic theme of Sustainability. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the event, please see this linked sponsorship document with the sponsorship packages and form. Any questions regarding sponsorship should be directed towards our Advancement Associate, May Su Yadana Bo (email@example.com) or +95 9 880 441 040, +95 9 964 210 248. You can also see further details about ticket purchases for the event on our ISY Gala webpage and Facebook Event page.