QR Codes in Restaurants, Learning Animals, and ChatGPT

QR code
  • 2022-23

My mind is made up. I don’t like menus downloaded via a QR code and sellotaped to the table in a restaurant.

I don’t advocate for laminated cards with colour photographs of the food, but a hard-copy menu would be nice, ideally in leather, with tassels, and a vision statement on the inside page.

As it is, QR codes in restaurants just seem to add to the time people sit there staring at their phones.

In a recent talk on Modern Learners I attended, Will Richardson commented how institutions can barely keep up with the rate of technological change.

The educational narrative is changing. The agenda seems less about knowing, and more about skills when in reality of course you need both.

Perhaps the most competitive skill in the world today, even outside school, is the ability to learn. According to one Google boss, the world is developing ‘learning animals’.

A ‘learning animal’ is someone with a passion to learn more.

This might manifest itself in science, music, sport, coding, poetry. When students pursue things they care about, they become self-motivated learners.

Robot hand and human hand touching a look into artificial intelligence and chat GPT

Schools were originally built to bring knowledge together in one place.

Now, knowledge is everywhere. The sum of human knowledge is available on your phone - and that inevitably changes the way schools work

School have a duty to help students prepare for the world beyond, as well as protecting them from its dangers. Part of this preparation is to teach students the safe use of technology.

The latest technological revolution that requires sensitive handling involves Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms such as ChatGPT.

What exactly is ChatGPT?

It is a sophisticated generative AI programme that delivers text in response to a prompt. It is still evolving at a rapid rate, but already it can synthesise huge amounts of data.

Google and Microsoft have quickly developed their own versions. And there are equivalent platforms that generate images, for example midjourney.

While the text generated tends to be logical and well-structured, it can also be quite bland and general. The more specific the prompts, the more precise and useful the response.

What are the advantages of using ChatGPT?

 It can operate as a highly refined and comprehensive search engine – better than Google in many respects. And it can save a lot of time spent researching by students and staff.

It is excellent for brainstorming ideas. It can help create resources for teachers such as quizzes and summaries.

Students can engage at different levels, gaining personalised real-time support. And it makes knowledge available quickly, allowing more time to concentrate on skills

Coding and artificial intelligence chatgpt for students and education

What are the limitations of ChatGPT?

Its responses can be repetitive, while the huge amount of information it delivers can be overwhelming.

The information it gives can also be inaccurate – comprising elements of fake news, and users need to confirm the sources. Inevitably it reflects the biases found on the Internet.

It seems unreliable for Mathematics at present. It contains no original thought – it only retrieves what is available on the Internet.

The programme reflects Anglo-Saxon language bias. And it is poor creatively, for example producing really terrible poetry!

What about the ethical considerations involved?

Data privacy remains a concern – and this was the reason the Italian government banned ChatGPT for a while. The platform holds phone details and inevitably constructs user profiles which have the potential to be monetised.

There is in addition a large potential for student malpractice. While technically it does not constitute plagiarism to use it as the content generated is always unique, the platform nevertheless facilitates lazy paraphrase, thus compromising the ability of students to develop their own problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

An over-reliance on AI tools might, moreover, mask underlying pastoral issues.

Control C keyboard buttons on black background

Exam boards will need to take into account the advantages and disadvantages of these programmes when designing and updating their examinations and curricula.

What are the next steps

ChatGPT and other generative AI platforms have enormous potential as learning tools, though concerns persist about their misuse.

We must acknowledge that such platforms exist and not bury our heads in the sand. It is impractical to prohibit, but we need to manage their use, harnessing their positive potential for learning and minimising the risks.

(When the Italian government banned ChatGPT, students I spoke to just laughed, immediately saying they would bypass the ban by changing their VPNs!)

As a school, we need to educate the school community. This will not be easy as the technology tends to develop faster than we can reasonably keep up with it.

As a starting point, students and staff need to be taught how to search effectively. The values of academic integrity will need to be reinforced.

Students and staff must be encouraged to share what they have learnt, and we need to communicate its impact to all, including parents.

Teachers must understand its potential, but be sure to follow up by developing students’ critical thinking and interpretation skills. And of course, teachers need to be aware of the potential for misuse when managing assessments.

I'm sure all this will be part of an ongoing conversation both within and outside the school. In the end, we will only address the issues effectively if we work together.

In the meantime, I will continue my search for restaurants where I don’t need to access the menu via a screen.

Chris Greenhalgh
Principal and CEO


Best IB School - International School 

  • ChatGPT
  • Innovation
  • Learning