Katonah-Lewisboro Talks about AI in Education
Artificial Intelligence in Schools was the topic of Katonah-Lewisboro’s recent Learning Café. The October 17 conversation moderated by Superintendent Andrew Selesnick, Director of Technology Chris Nelson and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Julia Drake gave members of the community an opportunity to think through a topic that’s in the news, and in the hands of students.
Katonah-Lewisboro hosts two Learning Cafes each year; past topics have included Belonging, Sustainability and the district’s Learning Commitment. The evenings typically include brief presentations from in-house experts, and three rounds of conversation around a prompt. Participants sit at school cafeteria tables. There’s coffee and snacks and the mood is warm and welcoming. “The goal of our Learning Cafés is to think together, and learn from each other,” said Superintendent Selesnick.
Thoughtful prompts for Considering pros and cons
Director of Technology Nelson opened the evening by defining generative AI, “AI can now generate human-like text based on context, past conversations, and vast databases of information.”
Superintendent Selesnick brought participants into a shared experience with ChatGPT by live streaming the software tool writing essays, doing math problems, even writing a letter to the editor expressing appreciation for KLSD.
Assistant Supt for Curriculum and Instruction Drake teased out the darkly humorous side of what has happened historically on the cusp of various technological advances, sharing alarmist quotes from the advent of writing, the printing press and the radio.
Participants were drawn to the opportunities of AI in schools through the final presentation, a TED talk from Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, who envisions a future in which artificial intelligence supports students and teachers and increases human intelligence.
learning from each other
Closing comments were cautiously positive
“It’s already here,” said a middle school teacher. “Our focus has to be how we leverage it.”
“It’s rolled out so quickly,” said a parent. “My concern is how we learn to work productively with it. The conversation must move beyond “oh, no—kids are cheating.’”
John Jay High School Assistant Principal Mallory McDonald spoke to the opportunity for students and educators to collaborate with AI tools. “It allows for an inclusive model where there is instant feedback for every student.”
“ChaptGPT said we have nothing to worry about,” quipped Board member Rory Burke.