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Anglican Schools Commission

Embracing the new AI
- integrating AI with our
Anglican Identity

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Shane Parnell, Director of Technology, Anglican Schools Commission

Recently, a new AI has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We have heard about it in the news, read about it in papers and possibly experienced it ourselves. For some, it has been exciting, for others terrifying, and for a lot of people, it has been a concept difficult to grasp.

The AI I am referring to is the ‘Rise of Artificial Intelligence’. I phrase it this way to hopefully invoke imagery of a Hollywood movie plot whereby machines take over the world. So, are we all doomed? The answer is no. Artificial Intelligence is a fantastic and ever-growing development in the world. Note that I have not called it a new development as AI was first mentioned back in the 1950s and was first in use not long afterwards.

You may remember in 1997 that the Chess World Champion Gary Kasparvo was beaten by a computer called Deep Blue; this computer used AI. It learnt Kasparvo’s moves, predicted his strategy and challenged his thinking. AI has been around for a long time, and it is something that will shape and guide our world as we continue to use and develop its capabilities. Anglican schools must be at the forefront of educational innovation and develop a balanced approach that combines technological advancement with a strong commitment to ensuring our students use AI to benefit their lives.

The Anglican Schools Commission and our schools promote an education that celebrates Excellence, fosters Inclusivity and Diversity, cultivates Integrity and Respect, all centred around our Faith. These values are central to our Anglican Identity. The Reverend Dr Daniel Heischman, Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools in the USA, wrote a paper entitled Enhancing our Anglican Identity. In it he reflects on the purpose of Anglican schools in cultivating reason and developing critical thinking in our students. Anglican schools thrive when students are immersed in their learning, developing an ethical mind to challenge assumptions and question with integrity and honesty. Anglican schools must actively engage students in discussions about the ethical implications of AI, cultivating a strong moral compass that guides their interactions with technology. To do so re-reinforces our core values while allowing our students to discover, guiding them not only academically but also morally and spiritually.

Our schools have begun to embrace AI technologies, using it to spark students' curiosity by enabling them to explore complex concepts in engaging ways. For instance, AI-driven simulations can immerse students in historical events or scientific phenomena, triggering thoughtful discussions and ethical reflections. Teachers are using it to personalise learning, developing educational content that meets the needs of their students, ensuring they learn and develop, achieving their personal best as they strive for excellence.

In embracing AI, Anglican schools step confidently into the future, equipping our students with the skills to navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing world while remaining grounded in the values that define our AI, our Anglican Identity.

Anglican Schools Commission

Our core purpose is to establish, acquire and support low-fee Anglican systemic schools which provide a high quality, inclusive, caring Christian education.

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