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Christian Education in an AI World
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Christian Education in an AI World

The future of education intersects technology and human connection.

July 10, 2008, marked a significant day in world history with the opening of the iPhone app store. Few could have anticipated the revolutionary impact of this new technology on the modern world. While the iPhone itself was groundbreaking, it was the app store that truly changed the game, ushering in an era of innovation that birthed entire new industries. Fast forward 22 years, and we find ourselves at the dawn of another transformative era, all thanks to the launch of a new software on November 30, 2022: ChatGPT. Just as the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, ChatGPT wasn’t the initial generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform, but it is what catapulted generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) into the mainstream. ChatGPT has ignited a revolution within existing industries and paved the way for countless new ones.

The Christian Tradition of Innovation

At Greater Atlanta Christian School, we’ve been engaged in thought-provoking discussions about the impact of AI on our lives, families, and careers. Traditionally, educational institutions tend to lag in adopting new technologies due to factors like institutional inertia, risk aversion, limited research, or the inclination to teach in familiar ways. However, at GAC, generations of leaders have chosen a different path, one marked by forward-thinking innovation. We purposefully wield technology as a tool rather than becoming its passive users.

Dr. Paul Cable, GAC High School Principal, believes that as a Christian institution, innovating is a part of God’s design for mankind. Being made in the image of the ultimate Creator, we are called to contribute to His Kingdom by creating. Our school’s enduring mission is to “help each child grow as Jesus did, in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Anchored in this mission, we continually assess new educational methods carefully and critically. So, how should Christians embrace artificial intelligence? AI is here to stay, and deliberately excluding it from our classrooms would be unwise and potentially detrimental to our students. In the words of Karim Lakhani, a professor at Harvard Business School, “AI is not going to replace humans, but humans with AI are going to replace humans without AI.” As Christians, we are committed to guiding our students in the wise and judicious use of this tool, recognizing the importance of maintaining integrity and nurturing creativity within the realm of artificial intelligence.

Using AI as a Tool for Christian Education

Artificial intelligence is reshaping education by equipping both teachers and students with tools that amplify learning, foster collaboration, and stimulate creativity. AI-powered platforms can complement traditional teaching methods, providing personalized and engaging learning experiences.

Ways in which generative AI platforms can be integrated into classrooms:

Customized Learning: AI adapts to individual student needs, helping them grasp complex concepts at their own pace. Teachers can use AI to provide additional explanations, practice questions at varying skill levels, and learning resources tailored to each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Creative Writing: AI serves as a source of inspiration for creative writing projects. Students can interact with AI to generate ideas, brainstorm, and receive feedback on their compositions.

Research and Exploration: With vast knowledge at its fingertips, AI assists students in conducting comprehensive research across diverse topics, empowering them to explore new subject areas and develop critical thinking skills. Students can participate in interactive activities like “Think-Pair-LLM-Share”.

Language Learning: AI can serve as a conversation partner for language learners, particularly lesser-known languages like Hebrew and Greek, facilitating a deeper understanding of religious texts and traditions.

Personalized Guide: AI can assist students with their homework, offering guidance and explanations when they encounter difficulties. This not only helps students complete assignments but also fosters independent problem-solving skills. GAC has designed a personalized AI learning tool for students named TrekAI (read more below).

Addressing Common Fears

When introducing any new educational tool or method into a classroom, teachers often harbor apprehensions about the adoption of AI and its potential ramifications. However, Dr. Cable offers a reassuring perspective. He encourages educators to continue to foster strong relationships with students, learning their voices, thought processes, and tendencies. This deep understanding of students allows teachers to discern when students have relied on external tools, making it a lot easier to maintain integrity in the classroom.

Tips for Success with AI Platforms in the Classroom:

Set Clear Usage Guidelines:

  • Recognize where AI could play a role in your classroom
  • Define when and when not to utilize AI, likening it to a “calculator for the humanities.”
  • Emphasize how AI can enhance learning rather than merely imposing restrictions.

Know Your Students:

  • Familiarize yourself with your students’ voices, thoughts, and experiences.

Be Mindful of AI's Limitations:

  • Note that AI may not accurately quote publications or provide page numbers.

  • Be aware that AI responses can be excessively wordy and descriptive.

  • Recognize that AI consistently spells words incorrectly.

Encourage Critical Thinking

  • Promote critical thinking by encouraging students to question, analyze, and evaluate the information they receive.

  • Use AI as a starting point for classroom discussions and debates.

  • Further cross-disciplinary learning to help students connect different subjects with AI’s assistance.

Value Individual Perspectives

  • Include creative projects in the curriculum that challenge students to express themselves uniquely, using AI tools to stimulate ideas and brainstorming.

  • Highlight the significance of each student’s unique viewpoint and creativity, which AI cannot replace.

Cultivating Christian Leaders with AI

The future of education resides at the intersection of technology and human connection. In this dynamic space, students can thrive academically, creatively, and spiritually. GAC’s commitment to innovation and excellence in the realm of artificial intelligence displays its dedication to nurturing integrity and creativity, ensuring that students emerge as leaders of tomorrow, grounded in their Christian faith.

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