In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a staple in educational settings, mirroring the utility of calculators in math classes of the past. High-profile AI programs like ChatGPT are now prevalent in classrooms, assisting students with a range of tasks from essay writing to scientific research. This trend highlights a significant shift in educational methodologies, incorporating technology as a fundamental component in learning environments.
Baxter Academy in Portland illustrates the emerging challenge of balancing AI’s educational benefits with ethical concerns. The school’s handbook addresses the issue of plagiarism, including the use of AI, yet lacks detailed guidelines on the specific application of AI tools in academic work. Initially, some teachers at Baxter Academy banned AI platforms from their classrooms. However, attitudes have shifted, with many educators now embracing AI, provided it is used responsibly. They are actively teaching students how to formulate effective queries to harness the potential of AI.
Science teachers at the school advocate for the judicious use of AI, viewing it as an aid in accessing information while emphasizing the importance of human oversight in academic work. Similarly, an English teacher has drafted “A Student Guide to the Use of AI at Baxter Academy,” aiming to formalize responsible AI use. This guide encourages students to use AI to enhance learning, not as a shortcut, and underscores the importance of proper citation when using AI in projects.
Educational innovation and ethical considerations
Baxter Academy has introduced a 400-level humanities course titled “Science, Technology, and Ethics.” This class focuses on critical thinking about the ethical implications of modern technologies, including AI. The curriculum, inspired by articles like NPR’s “AI Could Help Doctors Make Better Diagnoses,” encourages students to consider both the capabilities of AI and the importance of using it responsibly in educational settings.
Cicy Po, Baxter Academy’s principal, acknowledges the rapid evolution of technology and the need for ethical and moral considerations in its application. While there have been numerous discussions about technology usage, AI-specific policies have not been a primary focus for the faculty. Po does not view AI as a significant threat on campus, suggesting a balanced approach to managing its integration.
Student perspectives on AI
Students’ attitudes towards AI vary, with a general consensus that its use in tests and finals is unethical. Many students leverage AI for passion projects and additional research, while others rely on it more heavily for regular assignments. This spectrum of usage reflects the diverse approaches to integrating AI into academic work.
As AI continues to evolve, the debate over its role in education is likely to intensify. Schools like Baxter Academy are not alone in navigating this new technological landscape. The ongoing development of AI necessitates continuous dialogue and potentially clearer policies from educators and administrators. The principal’s view that understanding and effectively managing AI is preferable to strict policing resonates with the broader educational community’s efforts to adapt to this technological paradigm.