Mr Lang Leads Conversation Around AI in Education at IAPS Conference

Mr Lang Leads Conversation Around AI in Education at IAPS Conference

AI in Education: A Glimpse into the Future

Caterham is once again leading the way in innovation and digital and this Tuesday, Mr. Lang represented Caterham Prep at the annual IAPS Headteachers’ Conference in Liverpool, sharing insights and answering questions on the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities that schools face in response to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education. The conference is the largest gathering of independent headteachers in the UK, gathering school and industry leaders from across the country to engage with the critical issues facing schools and their communities in the years ahead.

Pioneering a Culture of Experimentation:

Mr. Lang emphasised fostering a culture of experimentation with AI, anchored in school values and adopting a children-first “Why not?” approach to encourage both staff and students to explore AI’s potential whilst prioritising child safety. If a new development, whether based on technology, pedagogical research or practical experience, could benefit children’s learning now and preparation for the future, schools have a responsibility to investigate and look for opportunties to improve their practice. Training and a collaborative approach support the professional development of teachers whilst dedicated taught units around the mechanics and ethics of AI with the children aim to develop ‘AI literacy’, preparing them for a world in which such technology is already omnipresent. Although children within the Prep age range are below the age for personal accounts for many of the emerging tools, knowing how they function and making appropriate use of shared systems where appropriate is critical to building skills, understanding and safe habits in a protected environment.

Case studies showcased AI’s capability to offer individualised learning paths, from recommendation engines such as CENTURY and Atom Learning to supervised co-working with generative AI to develop and refine ideas through ‘digital peer feedback’. The integration of AI offers the potential for an ‘Industrial Revolution for the Mind’, bringing a focus on creativity and refinement over production and allowing increased focus on ‘higher-order’ thinking skills prioritised by the World Economic Forum in their annually-updated ‘Top 10 Work Skills’:

AI Policy & Ethical Considerations:

Caterham understood that the first step was to develop a policy that allowed freedom to experiment whilst keeping children’s safety as an utmost priority. A simple yet effective AI policy, developed with flexibility in mind, guides the ethical use of AI across Caterham senior and Prep by staff and pupils. The policy addresses privacy, bias, and accountability, ensuring a responsible approach to AI integration and has set a benchmark for other schools who wish to adopt a standard that is both comprehensive and able to adapt to a constantly-changing landscape.

Inspirations & Future Prospects:

Mr. Lang cited inspirations in the field of GenAI, emphasizing the importance of credible educators who put children at the heart of AI. He expressed excitement about the prospects of individualized learning and the unique opportunity independent schools have to lead the conversation on AI in education.

Addressing Concerns:

Concerns surrounding budgeting and age restrictions were discussed, with Mr. Lang emphasising the importance of safety and adherence to regulations like COPPA (in the US) and GDPR, which restrict the information which apps can collect on children. The conference also addressed potential risks and the need for students and adults to be more savvy in a world ever more integrated with online technology.

Parents’ Reception & Community Engagement:

The transition from initial concerns to a growing demand for AI has been noted among parents. Media such as podcasts and webinars have been employed to raise awareness and share information. For anyone wishing to catch up, you can find the AI podcast from last summer here:

Concluding Thoughts:

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Lang underscored that AI is here to stay, likening the current phase to the onset of an Industrial Revolution for the Mind. Just as we prepare our children to cross the road safely by leading them through it, identifying dangers and teaching them what to look out for and how to react when they spot an unsafe situation, we cannot prepare our children for the world they are growing up in by isolating them from it. Independent schools are uniquely positioned to lead the way, preparing students for the future while adapting to the rapidly evolving educational landscape.

Take-Home Message:

Mr. Lang left the audience with a thought-provoking message: “We have a duty to prepare our children for the world they are growing up into, rather than the one they are growing up from.” Plato predicted that the teaching of reading would mean the death of learning. King Canute famously planted his throne on the beach and commanded the sea not to advance. But what is often forgotten is that his point was not that the sea should obey him but that wishing differently cannot alter the tide. Instead, we owe it to our children to teach them to surf.

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