PMP333: Understanding ChatGPT with Naheed Bardai

Will Parker and guest Naheed Bardai discuss the use of an AI called ChatGPT in schools in this week's episode.

Naheed Bardai is the Principal of UWC Atlantic and arrived in south Wales in August 2021 from Upper Canada College in Toronto, where he was head of upper school for six years. Before that, he served as dean of students and senior school principal during his 10 years at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya. For Naheed, education is a deeply moral endeavor and the exercise of leadership demands a thoughtful, ethical foundation. His own rests on the tenets of pluralism, integrity, generosity and trust.

He holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the Western University, Canada; a Bachelor degree in Education from the University of British Columbia, Canada; Masters of Arts from the Institute of Education, University College London, UK; Masters of Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, USA.

I invited you on the show after a listener benefited from a webinar on understanding ChatGPT. Before we go there, can you give a brief summary of your work at UWC Atlantic and some examples of unique offerings there for listeners to know more about the school community?

UWC Atlantic is a college that serves students from ages 16-19 that creates intentional diversity among students. They are serving 360 students from 80 countries. There are 18 UWC schools at the moment. They focus on creating a better and more diverse world with a focus on sustainably. 

Like many school leaders, ChatGPT has become the latest AI software to assist or disrupt the way we interact with information, content-creation and potential learning. For those who are new to the technology, can you give an overview for school leaders on ChatGPT and its effects or potential effects on schools?

ChatGPT is an AI that interacts in a conversational way with the user. Many educators are facing fear-based responses. How do we build trust and determine what to embrace, integrate or restrict?

What obstacles and advantages do you see or anticipate as students and teachers use ChatGPT?

Some of the challenges really sit around deciding the ways in which we embrace, integrate, or reject AI such as ChatGPT. Another challenge is the ways in which students may use ChatGPT to produce inauthentic work. It also presents a potential opportunity for students to learn how to ask questions and become fact checkers for work produced by an AI. There’s opportunities for a different kind of learning to happen when using ChatGPT and other AI software. 

What advice would you have for leaders navigating these pros and cons?

Pros with ChatCPT involve assistance for language learners, synthesizing information, use of lesson planning, writing report card comments, university reference letters, fundraiser campaigns, interview guides with rubrics. Principal Naheed Bardai has encouraged his campus by starting a dialogue with a committee of teachers and students. The explore: How will we guide our community? How will we allow these principles to guide our actions? What advice should we give in light of these principles? Be flexible: the technology is going to change very quickly and you must be adaptable.

As we wrap up, I’d also like to talk about your own leadership journey. You’ve been a school leader with an international perspective. What lessons or ideas in leadership may be helpful for others (experienced or beginning) to keep in mind in the places where they serve?

When I have energy from students, I know I am in the right place. I firmly believe that leading a school is a deeply moral endeavor. Schools are complex systems and we have a responsibility to design them with equity in mind. Compassion is the core. Leading is a deeply human endeavor and requires us to create safe spaces for student learning.

Any parting words or thoughts you’d like to share with other school leaders? How can listeners stay connected with you?

You can reach Naheed Bardai via email:

UWC Atlantic social accounts are:

Instagram: @uwcatlantic 

Twitter: @UWCAtlantic 

Linkedin: UWC Atlantic College

Think someone else would benefit from this episode?
William D. Parker
William D. Parker