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Ravenswood Case Study: Using AI To Enhance Socratic Learning

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Case Study
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This document presents a case study from Ravenswood, on their approach to integrating Generative AI (GenAI) tools into their teaching methods, particularly to enhance Socratic learning. The study emphasizes that while AI offers exciting possibilities, it must be integrated thoughtfully to enhance, not replace, human-centred, Socratic learning. The goal is to use AI to foster critical thinking, collaboration, and personal growth, maintaining human agency in an increasingly AI-driven world.

Just as the world had reopened after the pandemic, educators faced a new wave of uncertainty: ChatGPT had reached 100 million unique users within two months of its launch on 30 November, 2022. Suddenly students had free and easy access to a tool that could potentially write their homework in mere minutes, prompting a flood of concerns about the future of education.

‘At no time in history have we faced such an extraordinary speed of technological change,’ says Ravenswood Principal, Anne Johnstone. ‘It was happening too quickly for governments to effectively offer real-time advice so, on a school level, we had to work together to define how we go about unlocking the benefits of AI in education in an ethical, equitable and safe manner. Our mission is to find the best path forward for supporting student’s wellbeing so that they can thrive in a world that is increasingly AI-driven. This requires active ongoing dialogue between leading academics, educators and students.’

AI Adoption Strategy

While some educational institutions placed a blanket ban on the use of AI, Ravenswood views GenAI through a positive lens. Ken Wong, Ravenswood Coordinator of Professional Practice and the Ravenswood Institute says Ravenswood recognises that AI is not a replacement for human creativity and expression, but rather a complementary tool. ‘For teachers, we are continually examining how this technology can improve productivity and quality, particularly in terms of personalising lesson planning and integrating adaptive learning platforms, so that we create more time for meaningful interactions for students,’ says Ken. ‘We are looking at ways to empower critical awareness so that students understand human agency and recognise the distinctiveness of human expression.’

To begin this journey, the Teaching and Learning team at Ravenswood collaborated with the Director of ICT to understand the implications of GenAI tools such as ChatGPT on the teaching, learning and assessment programs at the school. A strategy was developed for a whole school approach which prioritised the upskilling of teachers and students about GenAI tools, including their potential benefits and limitations, and a focus on the safe, ethical and responsible use of GenAI and the potential impact on the current assessment programs.

Ravenswood staff engaged in a range of professional learning opportunities focused on Generative AI technology which included presentations from experts from the University of Technology Sydney, the Association of Independent Schools NSW (AISNSW) and other external bodies, as well as internal sessions facilitated by the ICT team and key teaching staff to share knowledge and expertise.

In addition, Ravenswood formed an AI in Education Professional Learning Plan Team (PLP) of 28 teachers with the goal of harnessing the power of GenAI to elevate student learning experiences.

Through the connection with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Ravenswood formed a research partnership with leading academics and researchers in the AI field to further understand how the use of AI can support teacher practice, upskill teaching staff in GenAI methodology in the future, and contribute to the broader educational context.

AI Policy Development

‘Teaching is evolving as we recognise new ways in which technology can form an exciting springboard for enriching learning, deepening student analysis and engagement, and supporting academic rigour,’ says Jennifer Richardson, Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning.

To support staff, students and parents, Ravenswood commenced the development of guidelines on the use of GenAI in teaching and learning. This is a collaborative process which includes staff, students and parents. ‘Our focus has been on improving our understanding of the AI space so that we can give guidance, directly upskill teaching staff and also provide opportunity for open discussion and collaboration between teachers,’ says Elizabeth Westley, Ravenswood Director of ICT.

At the end of 2023 the Australian Government released the ‘Australian Framework for generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Schools’ which seeks to guide the responsible and ethical use of generative AI tools in ways that benefit students, schools and society. These guidelines continue to evolve as the technology evolves and as our understanding of the benefits and implications of GenAI tools progresses.

Through a collaborative process with the Teaching and Learning team and Senior School teachers, the Ravenswood Academic Honesty and Ethics policy was updated to reflect the school’s position on the use of GenAI tools in assessment, specifying these are to be used solely as a source of information that should be acknowledged and referenced accordingly. Generative AI tools are viewed as another source of information and, just as with any other source, before using any material produced by a generative AI tool, students are required to critically analyse, evaluate and verify the information for accuracy.

Senior School Departments also spent time reflecting on how we are assessing and the different ways in which we are providing opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding.

Academic dishonesty is not a new concept – there have always been students who have copied others’ work, whether from peers or, more recently, from google. Although technology has increased the speed and ease at which content can be generated, quality teaching and learning does not rely on content alone – information serves as a base platform for Socratic learning. A quality education involves a student’s reasoning and analytical skills to be tested through open-ended collaborative dialogue and exposure to different human perspectives within a learning community – one that is led by an experienced though-provoker.

AI Literacy Training

‘The AI Professional Learning group that was formed has been an effective way for staff to share their experiences of different AI tools with each other,’ says Elizabeth. ‘As a result, they have taken up different strategies to enhance their teaching through, for example, the use of ChatGPT as a way to generate examples for students to compare and critique. They have also used it to create marking rubrics, or to generate creative writing prompts and mind maps.’

The Ravenswood Library Resource Centre, in collaboration with the Ravenswood Digital Learning Leader, has created a micro credential course focusing on Information Fluency Foundations. This online interactive course assists students to understand and engage in the iterative research process, apply this to topics in every class, identify ethical information use and develop the skills to be critical when deciding which information sources are appropriate. All Year 7 students have undertaken this course which is now being rolled out to other year groups.

AI In Teaching and Learning

‘The emergence of these tools in the past 18 months has prompted educators to reflect on current pedagogical approaches, assessment practices and the skills and dispositions our young people will require as they move into the workforce and community,’ says Jennifer.

Rather than prioritising knowledge retention, learning has increasingly become about assuring understanding. Skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity will increasingly be required in a society where information is readily accessible – and these skills are best honed with the guidance of a teacher.

‘Sophisticated content offers the potential to spark sophisticated thinking if it forms the springboard for thought-provoking questions, interpreting facts, weighing up evidence and constructing original arguments through collaborative, shared dialogue,’ says Anne.

Ravenswood teaching staff are selectively integrating GenAI tools into the classroom to educate students about its benefits and limitations. The English Department, for example, use ChatGPT to develop sample work for analysis through demonstrating effective prompt construction, with teachers supporting students to examine content for potential bias and inaccuracy.

‘We are actively working on helping both students and teachers understand how generative AI tools can enhance the learning process so that they are able to critically analyse the information provided by these tools as well as understand the importance of the ethical use of information,’ explains Jennifer.

The Future of AI in Education

‘Ultimately, technology should enhance, not hinder, teaching and learning,’ says Anne, who acknowledges that, because GenAI has the power to take over routine tasks, it also has the potential to unlock more space for creativity, innovation and robust debate.

‘At Ravenswood we are closely looking at GenAI through the lens of maintaining human agency. Our job as educators is to develop young adults that will go out into the world and make a positive difference. As well as knowledge and understanding, they also need to develop character strengths – a strong understanding of human nature, a solid moral compass, social cognition and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively in a community. These are things AI simply cannot teach because, right now, it does not think or feel like a human.’

‘Education is the backbone of a flourishing society, and as educators we must successfully navigate the delicate balance between harnessing the benefits of automation while enhancing human agency, fostering intellectual curiosity and encouraging collaborative learning, reflection and personal growth. Our teaching practices will continually evolve, but our mission and vision remain the same: to support our students to find their passion and purpose and to ignite their potential.’

Key Learning

Positive AI adoption: Ravenswood views GenAI as a complementary tool, not a replacement for human creativity.

Teacher upskilling: They prioritise educating teachers about GenAI's benefits and limitations.

Collaborative strategy: An AI in Education Professional Learning Plan team was formed, and partnerships with academics at University of Technology Sydney were established.

Policy development: Guidelines for ethical AI use were created collaboratively.

AI literacy training: Teachers share AI tool experiences, and students learn critical analysis skills.

Enhanced Socratic learning: AI-generated content is used to spark sophisticated thinking and dialogue.

Shift in focus: From knowledge retention to understanding, problem-solving, and creativity.


Academic dishonesty: Students might use AI to write homework.

Rapid change: AI's advancement outpaces government advice.

Over-reliance: Students might neglect human creativity and expression.

AI inaccuracies: Content may contain biases or errors.

Human agency: Need to maintain human-centred education, as AI can't teach character strengths.