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Why the International Baccalaureate is embracing AI

Updated 18 Jul 2023

International schools are often pioneers keen to break new ground. The release of the artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT, shook many industries and led others to re-evaluate their existing practices. 

The education sector was one of the most impacted as ChatGPT presented old challenges in new ways. Ethics was a primary concern for schools around the world, as this new technology allowed students to churn out well-written essays with a few simple prompts.

The global education organisation, International Baccalaureate, has, however, chosen to embrace the opportunities presented by the new technology despite the concerns reverberating throughout the education world. 

Education challenges presented by AI

The release of ChatGPT in November 2022 sparked fears of cheating and plagiarism in students' essays. In fact, some school districts in the US, France and India have banned the use of ChatGPT while those in Singapore have adopted practices to prevent the misuse of generative AI.

Over and above the ethical challenges presented by using generative AI in the classroom, there are more practical concerns. Teachers need to be equipped with the technical expertise to effectively incorporate AI in their lessons. Another factor to consider is that many schools lack the resources to buy and maintain the hardware and software necessary to make AI a common feature in their teaching and learning. 

How international schools are adapting to the rise of new technologies

With the growing popularity of AI, the International Baccalaureate recognises the need to modify its assessment and qualification policies. The International Baccalaureate is making a shift from focusing on the technicalities of essay writing to analysis.

This is why international schools are primed for the challenge of incorporating the technology and preparing their students for navigating a rapidly changing world. As such, International Baccalaureate students will be allowed to use ChatGPT in their essays. Be that as it may, students must cite the AI as a source in their essay as they would with any other published work.

The Head of Assessment Principles and Practices at International Baccalaureate, Matthew Glanville, notes that AI presents opportunities to teach students new skills that will equip them for working and living in the future. Skills such as prompt engineering and the ability to identify and address bias are set to become more prominent features in the International Baccalaureate programme. 

Additionally, the International Baccalaureate counters the risk of cheating or plagiarism by requiring that teachers hold regular check-in meetings with students to allow them to expound on the ideas and arguments presented in their course work.

The International Baccalaureate operates in 5,600 schools around the world, and its embrace rather than its rejection of AI signifies a bigger shift in international education as a whole.

Possible applications of AI in international education

There are exciting and scary possibilities for what both students and educators can do with generative AI. For instance, the world-renowned university, Harvard, will offer an entry-level coding course that will be taught by an AI professor from September 2023.

Some teachers may feel threatened by such developments, but generative AI also offers an opportunity to differentiate learning and make it more engaging for students. A survey by the Walton Family Foundation found that 51 percent of K-12 teachers in the US used ChatGPT in planning and individualising their lessons.

ChatGPT offers powerful features such as the ability to translate assignments into students’ native languages and can rewrite content to be suitable for different reading levels. Teachers who use these features have the unique opportunity of meeting their students where they are without spending too much additional time.

As AI developments continue to speed far ahead of projections, the International Baccalaureate recognises the importance of holistically educating children and preparing them for a world where the use of AI is a norm rather than an exception.

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