Educators at The British International School Abu Dhabi are using their expertise in technology to ensure that students are prepared for the future
PARTNER CONTENT: There’s little question that schools need innovative approaches in education and that artificial intelligence (AI) is a major capability that allows such.
AI, machine learning and related technologies will have powerful impacts on learning not only through direct support for students, but also by empowering educators to be more adaptive to learner needs.
One such school that is ahead of the curve in terms of implementing AI and related technologies into its innovative teaching and learning approaches is The British International School Abu Dhabi, a leading international school in the capital.
Chris Gildroy, Head of Computing, and soon-to-be Head of the Faculty Computing, Engineering and Technology at the school, explains how the school currently has two pathways running at GCSE level, which delivers Computer Science and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), continuing through to International Baccalaureate (IB).
“We’ve witnessed incredible successes for the departments; we’ve got over 10 per cent of the cohort overall leaving to university to continue studying Computer Science,” says Chris. “So effectively, it’s the most popular department, if you like, for career progression.”
Such success has not gone unnoticed by the school’s principal, who recognised there were further opportunities for the students in terms of greater problem solving and working with mathematics in a practical way. As a result, the school is set to acquire a new space in September when design technology, computing and electronics will combine to form an engineering forum.
“This will help push things that little bit further,” says Chris.
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In a further move, Computing and ICT teacher, Teresa Loader, has been tasked with leading digital strategy across the school. “Among other elements, the role will look at AI in terms of teaching and learning, how we can support the staff within that, and what we are doing with our digital purchases and similar elements to ensure they are appropriate to what we are teaching,” says Teresa.
In terms of AI, the school currently teaches IB Computer Science, which Chris says is the top end of it. “You can replace the word AI with algorithmic statistics, because, in effect, what you’re doing is looking at the probability of what’s happened in the past in order to predict the future, and people often call that AI. We teach that to the students as a core skill,” says Chris. “Nobody knows what the future is going to look like and that’s exciting; it is our responsibility to ensure students are prepared to take advantage of the ever-changing landscape of technology,” adds Teresa.
To prepare students for more in-depth learning at secondary school level, primary school students are introduced to the key computing terms and how things work. “For example, they may use microbits and younger children use Bee-Bots, an exciting robot designed specifically for use by young children,” says Teresa. “This helps children get used to programming, which becomes more complex depending on the year group they are in.”
ChatGPT in education
WhiIe AI is not new, derivatives such as ChatGPT are. And Will McLoughlin, secondary school Maths teacher at The British International School Abu Dhabi, is taking the bull by the horns, so to speak.
Will, who is now studying a doctorate, researching how to implement technology successfully into the curriculum to enhance learning, is currently working with an action group and has created several Continuing Professional Development courses to support teachers at the school in understanding what ChaptGPT is and how it can have a positive impact on teaching and learning.
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“I see this new technology revolutionising teaching and learning in the school, as well as within the wider industry,” says Will. “It’s not just a gimmick, it is a teaching and learning tool.”
Will goes on to explain how the school needs to bring in evidence-informed pedagogy.
“We need to know what the last century of educational research tells us, and how that forms our usage of this new technology,” he says. “It’s a powerful tool if it is used correctly.”
For more information about the school, visit The British International School Abu Dhabi
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Image source The Bristishh International School Abu Dhabi