The headmaster of a school in South England has hired an artificial intelligence-powered assistant. But they don’t come in the human form.
Abigail Bailey is an AI chatbot whose designation is “principal headteacher,” according to a report by The Telegraph. Her key role would be to assist the human headmaster, Tom Rogerson, of the Cottesmore School in West Sussex. The chatbot is somewhat like ChatGPT, as it would assist Rogerson with supporting staff members and other teachers as well as formulating ways to help students with special needs.
Abigail: created by an AI developer
Speaking to The Telegraph, Rogerson said, “Sometimes having someone or something there to help you is a very calming influence. Being a school leader, a headmaster, is a very lonely job. Of course, we have head teacher’s groups…but just having somebody or something on tap that can help you in this lonely place is very reassuring.”
He said that having Abigail’s assistance wouldn’t mean that he stops seeking advice from human teachers at the school. “It’s nice to think that someone who is unbelievably well trained is there to help you make decisions.”
The school has also filled another AI-related position, which is that of the school’s ‘head of AI.’ Another AI-powered chatbot Jamie Trainer has joined the ranks. The school has also released the AI-generated headshots of both the AI chatbots, as per a report by Tech.co.
In an op-ed dating back to summer 2023, Rogerson wrote, “On a larger scale, AI is poised to have a significant impact on schools’ curricula, transforming the way pupils learn. AI will be able to tailor educational content and materials to individual students’ needs.”
The Telegraph also reported that Cottesmore students between the ages of four and 13 have been given their own individual AI chatbots to help them with their learning.
The school also hosted an AI conference in May 2023, which saw the attendance of educationalists from New York, Singapore, Scotland, Hong Kong, and Nigeria. Rogerson wrote the conference was held to address the negatives and positives of AI, specifically generative AI, and its impact on the education system.
AI and Education
While generative AI tools like ChatGPT have been deemed notorious for spouting word-heavy essays in eight seconds, thus taking away from the academic engagement required of students, generative AI tools have made access to education easier.
“A problem shared is a problem halved: AI can facilitate collaborative learning and problem-solving activities; as AI becomes increasingly prevalent in the workforce, integrating it into the curriculum prepares students for future careers. However, it’s essential that we strike a balance between AI-driven tools and human interactions to ensure an offering that nurtures creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence,” wrote Rogerson further.
In May 2023, UNESCO did a global survey of over 450 schools and universities and found that fewer than 10% have developed institutional policies or formal guidance concerning the use of generative AI applications.