AI Takes Center Stage at Bissell Grogan Symposium

Dr. Raja-Elie Abdulnours P 29 keynote, Beyond the Classroom: The Future of AI-Augmented Learning and Work, addresses biases in how AI depicts him.
Dr. Raja-Elie Abdulnour’s P ’29 keynote, “Beyond the Classroom: The Future of AI-Augmented Learning and Work,” addresses biases in how AI depicts him.

At the 19th annual Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium on Tuesday, students and teachers engaged in discussions about AI’s growing influence in education and society, led by experts and educators exploring its ethical and effective classroom use.

“I think that’s the focus this year because AI is becoming a larger and larger part of humans society,” Event Co-Chair Bradley Starr said. “There are workshops about how AI can be used in a school setting in a way that is productive and helpful, and also doesn’t cross the line into academic honesty.” 

The event kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Raja-Elie Abdulnour P ’29, titled, Beyond the Classroom: The Future of AI-Augmented Learning and Work.

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  • A student participates in Middle School English Teacher Will Arnt’s workshop Breaking Through Writer’s Block: How to Use AI Ethically, Effectively, and Creatively.

  • Julian Park ’24 and Oliver Baggett ’24 attend the workshop How to Make AI Your Personal Tutor.

  • Students and teacher attend the workshop Beyond the ChatGPT Essay: How to Use AI to Improve Critical Writing Skills.

  • Dr. Raja-Elie E. Abdulnour gives a presentation in his workshop Call of Doctor Duty: Diagnose and Treat Your AI Patient.

  • Upper School Head Joshua Neudel teaches a breakout about how to work with AI as a personal tutor.

  • Dr. Raja-Elie Abdulnour P ’29 delivered the keynore address, “Beyond the Classroom: The Future of AI-Augmented Learning and Work.”

  • Andrew Flint ’26 works with ChatGPT in a breakout workshop, “How to Make AI Your Personal Tutor,” after the keynote address for the Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium

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“One reason I’m super excited about [AI] is because I think we’re at an inflection point,” Abdulnour said. “There are two opposing forces. There’s a lot of hope on the right with things like AI and knowledge. But at the same time, there are sort of these opposing forces, climate change, war, and a rise of a sort of multipolar national world.”

According to Director of Technology Infrastructure Jason Bock, the School has not banned AI due to its potential for effective use.

“In terms of the AI stuff, we have not taken a hard stance on blocking all of those on campus because the trouble with that is that teachers and students can use AI appropriately,” Bock said.  

Following the keynote address, Upper School Head Joshua Neudel offered a breakout workshop focusing on the appropriate use of AI, including its potential as a personal tutor.

“I’m hoping to teach people a little more about how you are engaging with a generative AI tool,” Neudel said. “If you sit down with a tutor, you’re not going to learn anything if the tutor just tells you the answer, so the idea is, how can you use it in that way?”

Other teachers also think that AI can be used effectively in a classroom.

In terms of the AI stuff, we have not taken a hard stance on blocking all of those on campus because the trouble with that is that teachers and students can use AI appropriately

— Jason Bock

“I do think there’s a place [for AI] in the classroom, and I think the place for it is teaching students what it’s good for and what it’s not good for,” Upper School English teacher Kenley Smith said.

Upper School History teacher and advisor of The Gator, David Cutler, encourages students to critically assess responses from ChatGPT and other large language models.

“I’ve previously had students analyze AI responses for writing quality and historical accuracy. However, I’m now shifting focus to more nuanced ethical guidelines, like using AI for specific queries rather than generating extensive content,” Cutler said. “This approach aligns more with ethical tutoring, where students actively engage with AI to enhance their understanding, rather than relying on it to do the work.”

Cutler, who led a breakout workshop on the use and potential misuse of AI in journalism, expressed concern about the influence of financial interests on the integrity of journalism.

“I am concerned that the escalating race to generate content will result in more layoffs in the media industry, as AI-produced content is increasingly favored,” Cutler said.

Upper School Engligh teahcer Kenley Smith organized an activity in her Modern World Literature class, where students used AI to identify literary devices such as puns and similes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Despite being permitted to use AI for this exercise, the students often received quotes from different plays or misattributed to incorrect characters.

GNN: Watch the Keynote
Beyond the Classroom: The Future of AI-Augmented Learning and Work,


Dr. Raja-Elie Abdulnour P '29 delivered the keynote speech, titled "AI and the Future of Medical Education," at the 19th annual Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium on Tuesday.

This symposium explored the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in revolutionizing medical training.

During his presentation, Dr. Abdulnour, a renowned advocate for enhancing human health through medical education and innovation, discussed the crucial role of AI in filling gaps in medical education. He underscored the significance of adopting a balanced approach to AI integration, highlighting its capabilities as a complementary tool rather than a replacement for human judgment and reasoning. Here are some of the key highlights from his address:


  1. Focused Learning and Attention: Dr. Abdulnour emphasized the importance of attentiveness in learning environments, comparing it to an always stop at a stop sign: "this isn't always stop—put your phones away." He highlighted the need for removing distractions for better focus.
  2. Combatting AI Biases in Learning: Addressing AI biases, Dr. Abdulnour said, "The training data for GPT3 is 92 percent in English... There will be bias. It's not a question." He implied that students should be aware of these biases in their use of AI for learning.
  3. Diverse Learning Methods: Advocating for a mix of learning approaches, Dr. Abdulnour emphasized the value of unsupervised learning. He described this method as one where learners are encouraged to explore and identify patterns independently.
  4. AI in Enhancing Problem-Solving: He discussed the role of AI in learning and problem-solving, noting its potential to effectively use and represent knowledge.
  5. Future of AI in Education and Medical Practice: He spoke about the potential future role of AI in education and medical practices, suggesting its significant impact in enhancing both fields.
Workshop Presentations

After the keynote address, students chose to attend a breakout workshop about how AI is disrupting various fields.


Jesse Roberts & Angie Ward

Artificial Intelligence in Daily Life: Harnessing the Power of AI to Work Smarter Everyday

In this interactive session, we will introduce several concepts and provide students a launching point to learn more about AI, answer some misconceptions, and demonstrate (in real time) how AI can be used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. We’ll demonstrate how you can use AI for improvised meal planning, to plan our fantasy football teams, to create a Taylor Swift website, and more!


Jacob Prince

The Promise and Pitfalls of AI for Visual Recognition

This interactive workshop will explore how AI is changing our world and why we should think carefully about how we use it. We will first examine how AI systems actually work by introducing the concept of a "neural network" algorithm and showing how it can mimic different processes in the human brain. Then, we will explore how these brain-inspired algorithms are rapidly changing our society. A significant portion of our discussion will center around AI in facial recognition technology – its advancements, capabilities, and the ethical questions it raises. Is it always good to push for more and more powerful AI systems? What are the consequences when AI gets it wrong? Building on these conversations, we will discuss practical steps for how students interested in AI, psychology, or neuroscience can explore these topics and take steps toward careers in these exciting fields that will continue to transform our world.


Shaun Clarke

Filmmaking and AI

This workshop will trace the evolution of filmmaking technology from its origin through today. We will discuss the impact of innovation on creativity and think about what potential AI can bring to the art form in the future.


Guilia Taurino, Ph.d

AI and the Arts

In the past few years, we have witnessed a surging debate on the relationship between AI and human creativity. Many experts and practitioners have asked whether machines can truly be creative or if they are, in fact, merely reproducing human artifacts in a mechanical way. Some have started questioning the very essence of creativity and knowledge as purely human features. While the discussion on machine creativity is still open for debate, in this workshop we will explore the relationship between AI and the Arts by asking: what does AI know about the Arts? We will take as a case study a Fine Arts collection and look at how state-of-the-arts machine learning algorithms perform on digitized archival records - drawings, prints, paintings. The students will be asked to actively participate in this evaluation process, by choosing a preferred artifact from the digital repository and testing a pre-trained model for image classification. We will then collectively observe the results and discuss the outputs. By the end of the workshop the students will learn how to think critically about AI in application to cultural heritage, and gain understanding of the practice of curating digital records in collaboration with machines.


David Cutler '02, Brimmer and May U.S. History, Government, and Journalism Teacher

Journalism in the Age of AI: Tools, Ethics, and Opportunities 

Learn how AI tools are revolutionizing news reporting, enhancing efficiency, and enabling in-depth analysis. You will also delve into the ethical challenges AI poses, including misinformation risks and algorithmic biases. This session will also tackle the responsible use of AI in journalism, highlighting its benefits and potential pitfalls.


John Tarbox

Searching For a Job in the Age of AI

This workshop will consider the technology and trends with AI and how companies are using it to make hiring decisions, as well as the issues that come with this practice. We will also discuss the problems that come with using AI to both make hiring decisions and as a person looking for a job.


Sarah Robertson Kahn

Beyond the ChatGPT Essay: How to Use AI to Improve Critical Writing Skills

In this workshop, students will learn about how various types of AI writing tools work — from ChatGPT to Grammarly to Khanmigo, and more — and discuss the ways in which each might be used for different writing purposes. Students will debate the ethical implications of the use of AI in writing and can experiment with different AI tools in order to draft or refine their own writing.


Will Arndt, Brimmer and May MS English Teacher

Breaking Through Writer’s Block: Using AI Ethically, Effectively, and Creatively

Writers have gathered in formal and informal communities to share their ideas with one another and find inspiration for future projects. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met with friends and colleagues in a group they called “The Inklings.” Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein while on vacation with Lord Byron. Ernest Hemingway was essentially tutored by Gertrude Stein. AI can be your digital sounding board and inspiring friend in much the same way. In this session, we will learn how to harness the creative potential of AI to find new inspiration and work past writer’s block for both creative and analytical essays.


Dr. Raja Abdulnour

Call of Doctor Duty: Diagnose and Treat Your AI Patient

In this workshop, we will use a popular general-purpose large language model (LLM), GPT, to create an educational game around being a medical doctor. Participants will use their ChatGPT account to develop prompt strategies that will help create a virtual patient and a coach. Prompt engineering is an important skill that will maximize the benefit of AI tools like GPT. Participants will then “play” the role of the doctor. They will attempt to evaluate and treat a virtual patient with guidance from a GPT tutor and Dr. Abdulnour. In addition, participants will be encouraged to use their own GPT account to ask for help and seek guidance. By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to assess the pros and cons of a large language model (GPT), develop effective prompt strategies, evaluate, and manage a patient with a common complaint, and develop and test individualized AI coaches.


Joshua Neudel, Brimmer and May Head of Upper School

How to Make AI Your Personal Tutor

Are you curious how to leverage generative AI as a student? Are you unsure what are acceptable ways to use AI and what may not be acceptable? In this hands-on workshop, you will have an opportunity to learn more about generative AI and how they can use it in a positive way to help them as a student. Those that attend the workshop will learn how to use tools such ChatGPT, some of the best ways to interact with a chatbot, and practice creating learning and study tools. Come with your laptop or iPad and leave with a better way to improve your studying!

Editors' note: With permission from the School, The Gator has copied the description of breakout sessions from the event's site.


“When we did that worksheet exercise for our class, people came in and were like ‘It [ChatGPT] gave me the wrong information,’” Smith said. “It’s not infallible.” 

With the rise in AI, new improvements in coding have prompted technology teacher Darol Ware to worry about students abusing AI to complete assignments.  

“I do have the concern that students look towards AI in regards to computer science to answer some question because that’s one of the things it does best,” Ware said. “My worry is that students are letting it take care of that for them, without having a good understanding of what’s being produced.” 

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About the Contributor
Edward Flint
Edward Flint, Co-Managing Editor
Edward is a 10th-grader at Brimmer and in his free time enjoys hiking and playing soccer. He enjoys Journalism because it can help other people learn more about the world.

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