The New Canaan Library audience sat riveted as a conversation about using generative AI in education unfolded. Conducted by Conor Grennan, the Dean of Students and Head of Generative AI at The NYU Stern Business School, and Abby Abbott, St. Luke’s Assistant Head of Upper School,  the discussion centered around the technology known as ChatGPT.

Grennan, a St. Luke’s parent, described his journey from AI novice to aficionado and gave examples of how ChatGPT can help people in their personal and professional lives. He also emphasized the “almost non-existent” learning curve and observed that creative people are often better users of generative AI than techies. In addition to working with faculty and students at NYU, Grennan advises corporate leaders about AI’s extraordinary possibilities. 

Watch  A Curious Conversation About AI

As an educator, Abbott has been actively leveraging AI to develop curriculum and tailor lessons that maximize student engagement. Currently, she is using ChatGPT to help craft an ancient history textbook. “Generally, academia doesn’t welcome change,” Grennan said, complimenting St. Luke’s progressive handling of the new technology. 

Abbott attributed St. Luke’s readiness to explore AI to early professional development, including a summer session with Grennan. Working with the school’s IT Department, academic leaders developed a two-pronged approach—prevention of the “bad” uses of AI tools (e.g., cheating) and full exploration of the “good” uses (infinite ways to enhance learning).

Both Grennan and Abbott highlighted a shift in mindset, moving from initial fears about the impact of AI on student thinking and writing to a sense of curiosity: This is a wildly different tool. How do we use it?

The St. Luke’s faculty continued their exploration of  AI and emerging technology at a workshop led by Dr. John Spencer, who poses the question: “How do we do authentic learning in an age of smart machines?” Many teachers are also participating in a "professional learning community" dedicated to AI and education. It's essential that educators everywhere explore the potential of emerging technologies in order to prepare our students to thrive now and into the future. 


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