ChatGPT: a pedagogical opportunity, a hazard or both?
ChatGPT 1 is an artificial intelligence-based real-time conversation tool developed by OpenAI. Think of it as a more complex source of information than Google. It can simulate a human conversation convincingly, using a pre-trained language model called GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3). To use ChatGPT, simply type a phrase or question into the chat window, and the platform generates a response using its language model. Its language model is trained on vast amounts of text data, allowing it to understand the meaning of sentences and generate consistent and relevant responses.
How could this tool affect education?
It is common knowledge that students nowadays are tech-savvy and often discover new trends through a variety of social media platforms, while professors and academic staff may be slower to follow these trends or unwilling to modernise their ways. The question on the mind of all is how this could affect education as a whole. And who better to answer this question than ChatGPT itself?
This is what we got back in less than 20 seconds:
A quick answer to a big question. The AI took into account not only those receiving the education but also those delivering it, indeed, this tool can be used by students to save time thanks to the speedy text generation and help to learn languages, as well as by educators who need to generate prompts and questions to facilitate discussions or even to automate tasks such as grading. The opportunities are numerous to lighten the burden of smaller tasks however doubt comes to mind: why can’t we simply carry on doing the work as we have been for the last few decades?
ChatGPT is like a calculator in math
We have been leaning on technology for many years now and the evolution of learning techniques is a natural phenomenon. In math, we have had the equivalent with the increasingly 'intelligent' calculators that solve all types of mathematical riddles. ChatGPT is in some ways, the calculator for essay writing - bypassing the tedious “solving” hours and allowing students to work faster and more efficiently.
While it is true that this AI is revolutionary for educational purposes, it must be used with precaution. Many will say that it could democratise plagiarism and cheating as anyone can use the platform as a quick fix to their school tasks and homework. Fake news is also an issue that users need to be aware of as many sources cited through ChatGPT are not correct and require fact-checking.
Academic staff are encouraged to discuss the AI guidelines and code of ethics to hold users accountable for potential menaces 2 . The heart of the issue is not the technology but rather who uses it and how. You can have the best car in the world but if you don’t have a responsible driver then it can be dangerous and cause damage to others.
How will ChatGPT affect the future of learning?
The debate of what is to gain and to lose from AI becoming a part of daily life is only just beginning as people question the concept of “job automation”, that AI is putting at risk certain professions 3 . However, it is essential to remember that AI and in this case, ChatGPT has its limitations in the realm of education. While e-learning is a promising tool for online teaching and learning, it cannot replace human interaction and face-to-face teaching. Learning is a complex process that requires direct communication with a teacher and other students to be effective.
Again, we asked ChatGPT for its input on the matter:
The conclusion was unbiased, outlining the opportunity for educational innovation as well as the challenges to prepare for. ChatGPT can be a valuable educational tool by providing quick access to information and facilitating language learning, but it can also present potential hazards such as spreading misinformation or oversimplifying complex concepts. It is important to use it in conjunction with critical thinking and additional sources. With its potential for constant growth and evolution, ChatGPT will certainly continue to play a significant role in future education.
Overall, the positives and negatives of ChatGPT in education should be carefully considered and weighed before making any decisions about its use in the classroom. Do the positives genuinely outweigh the negatives? That’s for you to decide!
If tech trends are not your strong suit or if you want to learn new ways to modernise your classroom, Euromentor provides ICT training to introduce teachers, educators and school staff to the fundamentals of technology. Check out more information and the calendar for this course here.