Everyone’s talking about AI, and most recently, ChatGPT has been trending on every possible platform. Whilst some are excited by the progress being made, some are concerned that “robots are taking over the world” – and more importantly, our jobs!
Technological developments have always been at the forefront of the education system. From the first SMART boards (remember how exciting those were?!), to full fleets of Mac laptops, technology has certainly provided a helping hand in making lessons more effective and accessible. But what is ChatGPT, and how will it affect the future of education? Can we find an ideal balance between traditional and tech savvy teaching?
What is ChatGPT?
Did you know that the AI market is predicted to grow 120% per year? It’s safe to say that all industries – not just education – are feeling the force of Artificial Intelligence. But first things first, let’s delve into the latest AI obsession. ChatGPT first made an entrance in November 2022, and has been making significant waves ever since. This ‘chat app’ does what it says on the tin: it is a powerful, data-fuelled tool designed to generate realistic human language. Accurately replicating human language seems like no easy feat, but this conversational app seamlessly achieves this by absorbing infinite amounts of data from multiple online sources. It can, therefore, be utilised for essays, articles and emails – and even answer your burning questions! But how can ChatGPT enhance the classroom experience?
ChatGPT’s Role in Education
There is no denying that ChatGPT’s role in education is controversial. Whilst some educators embrace its ability to elevate learning – not to mention reducing teachers’ workload! – others are sceptical about its threat to the traditional integrity of the education system. For one, ChatGPT runs the risk of increasing plagiarism. Put simply, ChatGPT is powerful assistive technology. Its ability to instantaneously produce personalised answers, tips and learning resources makes it the ultimate classroom assistant for teachers and pupils alike. However, ChatGPT goes beyond being a ‘study buddy’; it can assist teachers in creating lesson plans, vocabulary lists and writing prompts – to name but a few! Many teachers claim that there are simply not enough hours in the day, and ChatGPT’s ability to lend a hand on some of the most time-consuming tasks is nothing short of a blessing.
Chat GPT: Fad or the Future?
The role of ChatGPT in education is a nuanced debate. Educational Researcher Steve Watson speaks of the pros of this technology, whilst drawing on his own experiences as a student: “My problem at school was that I had all the ideas about what I wanted to say, but didn’t always know how to express it in the right form. This technology can help students present ideas in a clear and organised manner and in the right form, allowing teachers to focus on the ideas themselves.
In the process, it could shift the focus of education towards critical thinking and big questions. Because it can also summarise an argument, knowledge and concepts, there is real potential to help with formative assessment, especially in situations where teachers have limited time.”
However, not everyone agrees with this; some are rightfully concerned about whether ChatGPT will consistently be used in the right way, and for the right reasons. Like any advanced technology, its use needs to be regulated and monitored – particularly when taking centre stage in children’s education.
Steve Watson further stressed the importance of perceiving ChatGPT as an assistive technology: a trusty side-kick, as opposed to “main character energy”. The tool is not without its limitations as a knowledge source, and there is only a certain extent to which a robot can replicate authentic human thought and voice. Frankly, ChatGPT should be a helpful addition, rather than a replacement – and should certainly not be a plagiaristic tool! Students themselves have expressed concern that ChatGPT could provide “a shortcut to their education, lest this undermine their learning”, and are keen to be part of the conversation.
What’s more, ChatGPT is a key example of our inability to predict risks on a ‘top-down basis’; teachers and students need to be actively involved in the experimentation phase of this technology, rather than executives simply signing off on decisions. We need to refine our usage of ChatGPT and other similar technologies through experience, not assumption. As with the introduction of any new technology (after all, even the calculator was ground-breaking once!), adapting takes time – but we’ll get there!
Finally, let’s circle back to the ever-growing concern that robots are “stealing our jobs”. Don’t fret – ChatGPT is certainly not going to be replacing teachers any time soon! In fact, here are 20 ways that teachers can use ChatGPT to make their lives easier! If implemented responsibly, ChatGPT has the potential to reshape education as we know it – not eradicate it.
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