In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been rapidly transforming various aspects of our lives, and education is no exception. One of the more exciting developments in AI is the rise of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, which has been met with mixed opinions.
Essentially, ChatGPT is an AI language model that allows the user to communicate in human-like conversations, assist with tasks, compose emails, write code, and even write an article for The Bite. As the technology behind conversational AI continues to improve at a rapid rate, there are many potential applications for this technology in the education sector.
Recently The Bite gave an overview of ChatGPT, and now we hope to gather more information on how the teachers of AISB are taking advantage of, or not paying attention to, the recent boom in AI chatbots.
It is important to explore ways in which ChatGPT can affect how students learn and teachers teach in positive or negative ways and how students might incorporate AI into their daily lives in the near future.
What are the Fears and Hopes Surrounding ChatGTP at AISB?
The Bite surveyed faculty and staff of AISB on how they feel about ChatGPT as well as how they might be currently using it in classrooms. Fourteen secondary staff members responded. Answers suggest almost 80% had discussed ChatGPT in department meetings and 38% of teachers actively use it.
An MYP Science teacher struck a cautionary tone: “Like all new tech, it can be both beneficial and detrimental. However, unlike a machine that is created to make work easier, this removes all human thought and ingenuity. Can you really claim a writing piece to be your own if you did not write it? What is the point of learning if AI is going to do everything for you? Would you allow a doctor to perform life-saving surgery on you knowing they came from a university that allowed the use of AI?”
DP English and History teacher Ian Edwards took a pragmatical approach: “Each new technological innovation seems to bring with it extremist reactions. In my parents’ generation, TV was going to ‘transform’ education, and in mine, the Internet was supposedly going to do the same. The reality was more like a modification than a transformation.”
AISB’s Secondary counselor, Scott Langston, says that, in combination with embracing this technology, “we also need to push the notion of intrinsic motivation to learn—yes, AI might scrape you through on some assignments.”
When it comes to high stakes final written examinations, students who have not been through the journey of grappling with ideas, crafting them and defending them will be at a severe disadvantage.—Scott Langston
Here, Langston provides the interesting point that relying on AI to complete assignments may lead to a disadvantage in higher-stakes final exams and hinder creativity.
Langston also mentions how universities are responding to students using AI for help with tests by returning to pen and paper. Students who would usually rely on AI in their early years of high school may struggle to adapt to environments where relying on AI for ideas or help is not an option.
Therefore, the journey of grappling with ideas, crafting them, and defending them is crucial for academic success and adaptability in the later academic years.
How are Students Best Served by ChatGTP?
In an opinion piece by Kevin Roose for The New York Times titled, “Don’t Ban ChatGPT in Schools. Teach with It,” the author thinks ChatGPT should be used as a learning tool because Roose believes students will be using AI tools throughout their lives.
Roose says, “The first reason not to ban ChatGPT in schools is that, to be blunt, it won’t work.”
Roose then explains that while schools may try to block access within local school networks, “students have phones, laptops and any number of other ways of accessing it outside of class. (Just for kicks, I asked ChatGPT how a student who was intent on using the app might evade a schoolwide ban. It came up with five answers, all totally plausible, including using a VPN to disguise the student’s web traffic).”
To conclude the article, Roose argues that banning ChatGPT from classrooms is not the right choice.
The Bite asked ChatGPT how it could be used as an educational tool at school and it replied with five answers:
- Writing assistance
- Language learning
- Test preparation
This response is interesting because these are all traits of help a traditional tutor could offer. However, now ChatGPT could “act” like a tutor. Indeed, online education enterprise Khan Academy already has spent billions on developing its own chatbot tutor, dubbed “Khanmigo,” and they are deploying it in real school settings.
Even AISB teachers are using it as a tutor.
A DP Language & Literature Teacher mentions in the survey that they have asked ChatGPT to “extract significant quotes from a literary text. Or to write a model body paragraph or a model introduction paragraph. For language acquisition, it’s possible to ask ChatGPT to produce a dialogue in which two friends discuss school-related topics. It works quite well.”
What Ethical Concerns Arise from AI?
Odds are that you have already read something published by AISB that used AI, but is more transparency needed?
For example, according to Athletics & Activities Coordinator, Alex Sota, the department uses it for “newsletter announcements about sports and activities events advertising.”
Many educational institutions are grappling with when and how to identify the use of AI in community messaging in an ethical fashion. One thing is clear: Don’t use it to express condolences for a tragedy, when the human touch is priceless.
In an interview, AISB’s Digital Learning Coordinator Gitane Reveilleau expressed concern about the bias inherent to ChatGPT. A recent edition of “TechBytes,” the schoolwide newsletter published for teachers, is, according to Reveilleau, “all about bias.”
I really think [teachers] are doing a disservice if they are not teaching their students how to use it and think critically about it, so that [the students] can spot biases and misinformation.—Gitane Reveilleau
Evidently, Reveilleau wants teachers to teach with AI, as well as teach their students how to best take advantage of AI applications. She added that recently the Technology Team “has worked to update its Responsible Use Policies and related documents over the last few months to reflect these changes, but as with any new technology, there are schoolwide data privacy and safety measures in place that may hinder the use of such tools by students and teachers.”
In any case, nobody wants to be that lawyer who used ChatGPT to write his legal briefs, only to find out it cited court verdicts that were pure fiction. “I did not comprehend that ChatGPT could fabricate cases,” he told the judge. He should have known that ChatGPT does not even pass the CRAAP test for evaluating sources.
Nevertheless, many teachers at AISB are already applying ChatGPT to their lessons and planning. For example, French teacher Ana Sánchez Rollon says that “ChatGPT has helped me in designing a unit that I had never taught for French Phase 3. The unit was called ‘Stories through Movies.’ Amongst other things, I asked ChatGPT to recommend the best movies to transmit French language culture and values.”
Another example can be seen with a DP Biology teacher who uses ChatGPT to “inform [their] understanding of certain topics [and to] generate multiple choice questions.”
Other responses to our survey indicated ChatGPT was most beneficial when used for generating ideas, extracting quotes from texts, Google Slide generating, planning units, and more.
However, with the positives, there are drawbacks to this technology if it becomes too pervasive. Says one anonymous English teacher: “It feels like I’m no longer assessing whether students successfully wrote an imaginative work of creative fiction or poetry anymore; I’m just assessing their digital footprint, TurnItIn.com AI reports, and their overall academic honesty. Will we only be writing creative things on paper in the future? That’s kind of lame.”
To Use AI or Not to Use AI: That is the Question
While teachers seemed to have embraced this new technology to make their work easier, the message sent to students seems to be to avoid using ChatGPT unless directly authorized, or risk penalties leading up to Academic Integrity violations.
Recently TurnItIn instituted an AI detector which flags passages composed by a chatbot, making it difficult, but not impossible, for students to cheat with this technology.
Currently, based on anecdotal evidence, some teachers allow it to be used—such as its use as a copyediting tool in Journalism 9—while other teachers forbid it entirely.
In addition, the IB requires students to cite passages generated by AI the same way they would cite a Wikipedia article using MLA Style. Since quoting large passages in a research paper would lead to low marks, the implied message sent is: Don’t use this tool for research.
Where does this leave students? Somewhere between a rock and a…uh, ChatGPT, what’s a metaphor for a hard place?
So, how should students proceed? How can they navigate the mixed messages and contradictions of adults and professionals freely using a tool they mostly are forbidden to use? If you have suggestions, please comment below!
Editor’s Note: This article did not use AI to produce any of its text. Like most of the high-quality journalism you read on The Bite, it relied on hours and hours of copyedits and revisions from real, human writers and editors in order to bring it to the level you have read today.