ChatGPT, Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in Education

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Saturday, December 17, 2022

ChatGPT, Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in Education

AI just stormed into the classroom with the emergence of ChatGPT. How do we teach now that it exists? How can we use it? Here are some ideas.

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ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot. Drawing on tons and tons of data and massive processing power, it uses GPT3 technology to let users talk to the AI about practically anything.

It'll write you a song. Tell you a story. Make you a list of gifts to buy or reasons to do something. 

It'll write your lesson plans. (Go ahead and try it!)

It'll even do your students' homework for them.

ChatGPT (chat.openai.com/chat) was released on November 30, 2022, the first very notable public AI chatbot. (It certainly won't be the last.)

Immediately, students were thinking ...

"Can this write my English essays for me? Write speeches for class? Do my math homework?"

Immediately, teachers were thinking ...

"How will I run class when students can ask a chatbot to do everything for them?"

Meanwhile, the IT staff was thinking ...

"We've got to get this blocked immediately." (Of course, we know that won't stop students from using it, right?)

Now, we're wondering ...

  • What is ChatGPT? And, more broadly, what are chatbots and AI?
  • How is this going to impact education?
  • How can I teach tomorrow knowing that this exists?
  • Can I use this as a tool for teaching and learning?
  • Should we block it through the school internet filter -- or try to ban it?

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Define: ChatGPT, GPT3, chatbots, and artificial intelligence.

These are some of the important things to understand as we wrap our brains around what this is and how to navigate it in the classroom.

I'll do plenty of my own human thinking and reasoning, but for the purposes of information, I'm going to let ChatGPT give us working definitions to use:

1. ChatGPT, what are you? 

I am an artificial intelligence assistant trained by OpenAI to help answer questions and provide information on a wide variety of topics. I am not a physical being, but rather a program that is designed to process and generate text based on the input I receive. My primary function is to assist users like you by providing information and answering questions to the best of my ability. I have been designed to have a conversational style and can understand and respond to natural language input. I do not have personal experiences or feelings, and my responses are based solely on the information and knowledge that has been programmed into me. Is there anything else you would like to know?

2. What is GPT3?

GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is a language generation model developed by OpenAI. It is a neural network-based machine learning model that is trained on a large dataset of text data to generate human-like text. GPT-3 has the ability to perform a wide range of language tasks, including translation, summarization, question answering, and text generation. It can be fine-tuned on specific tasks or used to generate text in a more general sense. GPT-3 has received a lot of attention due to its impressive performance on various language tasks and its ability to generate human-like text.

3. What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. Chatbots are often used in customer service, marketing, and other areas where being able to communicate with customers or users in a natural, human-like way is important. Chatbots can be programmed to understand and respond to specific commands or questions, or they can be more general and able to hold a conversation with users on a wide range of topics. They can be integrated into websites, messaging apps, and other digital platforms, and they can be programmed to use natural language processing (NLP) techniques to understand and respond to user input. Chatbots can be very useful for automating tasks and providing quick responses to frequently asked questions, but they are not as advanced as some other artificial intelligence (AI) systems and may not be able to hold more complex or nuanced conversations.

4. What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of a computer or machine to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, decision-making, and more. There are several different approaches to building AI systems, including machine learning, where a system is trained on a dataset and can improve its performance over time, and rule-based systems, where the system follows a set of predetermined rules to make decisions. AI can be applied to a wide range of areas, including natural language processing, image and video recognition, robotics, and more. The goal of AI research is to create systems that can perform tasks at least as well as, or ideally better than, humans. AI has the potential to revolutionize many industries and transform the way we live and work, but it also raises important ethical and social questions.

Panel discussion: Navigating ChatGPT, Chatbots, and Artificial Intelligence in Education

Want to make sense of the world of artificial intelligence and its impact on education? Sit in on the panel discussion  in the video above, featuring: 

  • Victoria Thompson, Microsoft education executive and former classroom teacher
  • Donnie Piercey, fifth grade teacher and 2021 Kentucky State Teacher of the Year
  • Holly Clark, education consultant and National Board Certified Teacher (formerly in the classroom)
  • Dee Lanier, author, speaker, and former classroom teacher
  • Matt Miller, author/creator of Ditch That Textbook and former classroom teacher

What are the implications for the classroom?

As soon as the genie was out of the lamp, so to speak, there were effects of ChatGPT and AI on teaching and learning. Whether we felt those impacts right away or not, as soon as it was released, things have the potential to change. Below, we'll talk about ChatGPT in particular, but know that this is just the first one ... and we're thinking long-term about new products to come later.

1. Students can use ChatGPT to do their assignments.

There. I'll just say it clearly and plainly since we're all thinking it. For lots of assignment types (not all of them!), students can ask ChatGPT to do the work for them. They can copy/paste the work into a document or your learning management system and submit it.

2. TurnItIn and other plagiarism checkers can't catch it.

What ChatGPT creates is an original work each time you ask it. It creates something new every time you ask, and its responses are not in the databases of plagiarism checkers. ChatGPT doesn't keep a log of responses it creates, and even if it did, I'm thinking OpenAI (creator of ChatGPT) has no incentive to make all of that available to plagiarism checkers. (Even if it did, the processing power necessary to query that database would be enormous.)

Some people will, undoubtedly, try to find ChatGPT detectors to track down students using it (in a similar way to plagiarism checkers). You may find them. I found one on social media called GPT-2 Output Detector Demo. It's a demo, so it's not a finished product. It's based on GPT2 technology (which is a predecessor to the GPT3 technology that ChatGPT is using as of the writing of this post).

Also, it can be wildly inaccurate. I copied a blog post I wrote into it and it identified it as 92.54% chance of being real. I copied something out of ChatGPT and it identified it as 99.98% chance of being fake. ("Fake," being the term for "written by a bot.") A poem ChatGPT created for a friend, however, was flagged as real.

Beware of using detectors as your way of dealing with this.

They're not reliable. And this approach isn't the long-term solution to helping your students become modern learners.

3. Schools and districts will try to block it, but that won't stop much.

Immediately, IT admins are going to have to decide if they want to block ChatGPT with their internet firewalls. And lots of them will indeed block it. If they do, I hope they don't think that they've solved the "problem" they think they have on their hands.

First of all, blocking ChatGPT on the school's network won't do much. Sure, students won't be able to access it with their school devices on the school network. But did you know that students have cell phones? Phones that operate on a cellular network that the school can't control? They can run to the bathroom, sit in a stall, ask ChatGPT for answers, copy them to a document, come back to class, and transfer the text on that document into their assignment and turn it in. (They can do that at home, too. Or on the bus. Or quietly under the desk in the classroom.)

Whether to block ChatGPT school-wide is still a decision schools and districts have to make.

The bigger decision is: what will teaching and learning look like going forward now that this technology is available?

(Check out the section below called, "Should we block it or try to ban it?")

4. ChatGPT and forthcoming chatbots like it have their limitations.

When you load ChatGPT for the first time, it even tells you what some of its limitations are. Here are a few that it states -- and some others to be aware of for schools/classrooms:

  • It may occasionally generate incorrect information. As of publication of this post, it's still in "free research preview." That means it's an imperfect product that they're trying to improve.
  • It may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content. Any artificial intelligence is as good as the dataset it's drawing from -- and how it uses it. It has to make judgment calls just like humans do. Bias exists in judgments. It's still learning how to work with and eliminate its bias.
  • It has limited knowledge of world and events after 2021. Think of its dataset in a sealed box. It isn't drawing from current events. It can't pull anything from social media. It can't even search the active internet. 
  • It won't make ethical decisions for you. I've asked it a few things where it has to make decisions based on morals, ethics and personal values. It has declined, explaining that that's beyond the scope of what it's trained to do.
  • I've heard that it struggles to do math sometimes. I admit this is a really, really subjective thing to include with very little to back it up. I keep seeing posts on social media about this. Take this for what it's worth to you.

5. School/class uses of ChatGPT, chatbots, and AI aren't all bad.

Lots of teachers are making judgment calls about the use of this new technology, and many are concerned about its immediate impacts. Here's the truth: it'll make lots of teachers reconsider some types of assignments they'll assign going forward. Hey, they don't want to know how a bot will respond to their prompts, questions, and assignments. They want to use it to gauge learning in a human being. It makes sense.

But let's put it this way. There are some really, really mindless, terrible writing prompts out there ... and math worksheets ... and project assignments. If we're looking long-term, this technology will eventually start to push some of those terrible assignments out and force us to come up with something new. It'll probably be painful, and many of us will probably hate parts of the process. But in the end, we will evolve to something better.j

AI isn't going away. But if we ask students to write on paper right now -- as a stopgap, we know it's coming from their own brains. But please don't long-term plan like this.

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Also -- just like we did with the calculator, Wikipedia and Google searches -- students and teachers will find productive, meaningful ways to use this new technology for teaching and learning. (More on that below.)

6. Students will have to learn how to navigate life with AI.

Big picture, this is a shift students will deal with for the rest of their lives. Artificial intelligence will continue to get better and better. This version of ChatGPT is the weakest, most rudimentary artificial intelligence of its kind our students will ever use. My friend Holly Clark called it the "Commodore 64 of AI" -- a technology that was revolutionary at the time but is now seen as antiquated and obsolete.

Students will have to wrestle with questions of humanity -- what sets us apart as humans? When should AI be used, and when shouldn't it be? 

They'll wrestle with questions of obsolescence -- what can I do that AI can't do? How can I do my best to be sure my work, my passions, my place in this world isn't replaced by artificial intelligence?

They'll wrestle with ethical questions -- how can AI use be fair, equitable, unbiased, good? What happens if it gets in the hands of bad actors? How can I make sure I'm using it in an ethical way?

Big-picture, AI will cause a shift students will deal with for the rest of their lives. They'll wrestle with questions of humanity, questions of obsolescence, ethical questions. Let's help them with this.

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How do I teach class tomorrow knowing this exists?

Now we know there's an AI product that students can use to do their assignments. And we can't block it. And maybe we feel powerless.

What do we do tomorrow? How do we write lesson plans knowing that this exists -- so that students continue learning right now and don't just turn in answers from a bot?

Consider this your "break glass in case of emergency" section.

1. There's no shame in using paper and pencil -- for now.

I don't think this is the right answer long-term. But in this section of this article with the green background, we're talking about how to weather the storm TODAY until we understand what to do next.

If we close up the computers and ask students to write something on paper, we know it's being generated by their own brains. If you have a crucial essay that needs to be written -- and you're not ready to re-imagine the education system and innovate teaching today -- this can help you survive tomorrow.

But please ... please, please, please ... please do not plan for the long-term like this. This AI technology isn't going away, and its effects will be sprawling and widespread.

I don't think this is the long-term answer to AI & ChatGPT. But if we ask students to write on paper right now, we know it's coming from their own brains. But please don't long-term plan like this. AI isn't going away. -- @jmattmiller More: ditch.link/ai

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2. Make use of collaborative learning and discussions.

When Google Translate started growing, it made people ask questions like we are with ChatGPT. Do I need to learn a language? Then, we learned, if we want to have a true conversation with another human and build relationships, we can't do that effectively by typing everything into Translate. (Even though 90 Day Fiance tried to prove otherwise.)

When students discuss, they do so from their own working and long-term memory. Sure, they can look up quick answers, but to carry on a conversation, most of the work comes from their own thinking. After a discussion, students can recap the discussion and share their reflections about it ... and that's much harder to do with a bot.

Collaborative learning can have these kinds of benefits, too. When students work together, even if they're pulling information from Google or Wikipedia or ChatGPT, they're still talking about what they got, if it fits, how to organize it, how to communicate it effectively, etc.

3. Have students make creative demonstrations of learning.

There's so much benefit from classroom creativity that goes beyond trying to beat an AI chatbot. Creativity in learning can help students with motivation. It can help them make use of their own unique talents and skills. It can help them feel seen and heard and noticed.

When students take what they've learned -- or information they've found from other sources -- they're engaging in elaboration. And that's a good thing. 

"Elaboration in learning involves meaning-enhancing additions, constructions, or generations that improve one's memory for what is being learned." (via ScienceDirect)

Take what you've learned (or gathered). Organize it. Make something with it. And while you do that, you're better understanding what you have.

4. Use retrieval practice, brain dumps, and other memory strategies.

Retrieval practice is the idea of strengthening your long-term memory by recalling everything you can about a specific topic. It seems too easy and too good to be true, but it's been backed by cognitive science for decades. This is a study strategy that helps students strengthen what they've already learned and reflect on what they are learning.

Students can do a "brain dump," where they recall (on paper, verbally, in a document, etc.) everything they know about topics like:

  • What do you remember from class yesterday?
  • What do you remember about (this topic) we studied a week ago?
  • What do you remember about (this topic) we studied last semester?
  • What do you know about (this topic) we haven't studied yet?
  • What do you know about (this person)?
  • What do you know about (this very broad topic)?
  • What do you know about (this narrow subtopic)?

Brain science (much of which can be found at RetrievalPractice.org) tells us at that these brain dumps build long-term memory the best when they are ungraded. They're a study skill, not a formative assessment.

These memory strategies focus on what students have already learned, and they're pulled from student memory -- not from an AI bot.

If teachers aren't ready to embrace AI, how can they teach without students using AI to cheat?

It is important for teachers to be aware of the potential for students to use AI to cheat and to take steps to prevent it. One way to do this is to use methods of assessment that cannot be easily cheated, such as open-ended questions or projects that require original thought and creativity. Teachers can also use tools such as plagiarism detection software to check for copied content in student work.

In addition to preventing cheating, it is also important for teachers to educate their students about the appropriate and ethical use of AI. This can include discussing the potential risks and consequences of using AI to cheat, as well as the importance of honesty and integrity in academic work.

Ultimately, it is important for teachers to stay up to date with the latest technologies, including AI, and to be proactive in addressing any potential issues that may arise in the classroom. This may require teachers to seek professional development opportunities or to collaborate with others who are more familiar with AI.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

Can I use this as a tool for teaching and learning?

The answer here, I believe is: ABSOLUTELY. The longer that AI and tools like ChatGPT are around, the more that teachers will try new teaching and learning strategies with it. 

The more that teachers try new things and share them widely, the more that the educator community will move forward with new ideas. In short: we will figure this out together, even though it will take some time.

But ... what will it look like?

Here are some ideas, brainstormed by me (a human), by others (with citations provided) and by the bot (because, why not ask it too?).

1. Use it as a more complex, nuanced source of information than Google.

During conversations with students and in-class discussions, we can ask ChatGPT (and other tools like it) to provide us the information we need to drive a conversation forward. The bot's response isn't the first and last word in the conversation. Rather, it just provides details that we can use to discuss a topic.

2. Use it to provide students access to lots of good examples.

Think about how musicians and artists develop their style. They copy their mentors. They take their favorite influences and emulate them. Artists take a canvas to an art gallery or the park, and they paint what they see.

I keep remembering this quote from fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, which I learned about through Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist:

"Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself." -- Yohji Yamamoto

This is also the benefit of being well-read. When students see enough good examples, they start to know what to expect of good writing. Good reasoning. Good logic. They see the hallmarks of it and they can emulate it ... much like a writer or painter emulates the greats.

Artificial intelligence can give students unlimited good examples. (Note that I didn't say "great" examples, but "good.") Ask it for an essay about a certain topic. Then ask it again and it'll give you something different. Then ask it again. Then ask for a slightly different version, specifying something you'd like to see.

When it's time for the student to create something of their own, much like an artist or musician studying the greats, the student will draw from the examples they've seen.

3. Use it to remix student work.

Students create something for class: a story, an essay, a poem, a recap of something they've learned. Then, they can ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to remix it for them.

My favorite example to date of this comes from Donnie Piercey, a fifth grade teacher and the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. He took a student story and asked ChatGPT to remix it as a nursery rhyme, a soap opera, a sea shanty, and a children's book -- with suggested illustrations! Listen as he tells the story in the video below.

When students see how their work has been remixed, it can open them up to new opportunities.

4. Ask it for definitions (on a variety of levels).

If you need a concept explained or defined, ChatGPT (or a similar tool) can provide that explanation -- and do it in as detailed or simple a manner as you'd like. 

On episode 99 of the Partial Credit Podcast, Jesse Lubinsky shared that he asked for a definition of "faith" in terms a child would understand. That helped me realize that it can give definitions, descriptions, and explanations -- we expected that -- or it can level them up or down in complexity however we ask.

5. Ask it for feedback for student work.

We know that one key aspect to effective feedback is that it's timely. With traditional paper-based work, students turn it in and must wait for teachers to grade it -- and return it! -- before they can see feedback. Lots of edtech tools are letting us get feedback to students more quickly -- whether automated or through direct communication with a teacher or classmate.

ChatGPT (or a similar tool) can be another source of feedback. When students finish a written work, they can copy/paste their work into ChatGPT and ask how they can improve their writing. For example, I copied one of my blog posts into ChatGPT and simply asked how I could improve it. It gave me a list of five suggestions, including transitional phrases, adding more examples, and breaking it up into shorter paragraphs. (Better start a new paragraph now ...)

Of course, it's up to the student -- and based on what the student has learned about writing -- to decide whether to implement the advice and how.

6. Ask it to do some teacher tasks for you.

Ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to write some lesson plans for you. Or some questions for a quiz. Ask it for some jokes about your content so you can slip those into class. Of course, you don't have to use everything that it provides you verbatim. But it might give you a starting point you can modify -- or if you already have something, it can give you ideas to improve.

7. Add it to the "think pair share" thinking routine.

I love this line of thinking from Sarah Dillard (Twitter: @dillardsarah), and if you click on it and look at the whole thread, she explains it more. Students think about a prompt, then discuss it with a classmate. Then they do any searches they want on ChatGPT. They pair back up to discuss what they've found. Then they share with the class.

Using ChatGPT and AI doesn't have to be THE way we teach certain things, but it can add important steps to existing frameworks.

8. Grade the bot.

Jen Giffen (Twitter: @virtualgiff) talked with her high school-aged students about the use of AI and tools like ChatGPT. (We talked on the phone. You'll see that the phone call sparked lots of ideas!) After that conversation, she suggested this idea:

Give a writing prompt to ChatGPT (or a similar tool). It could be a different writing prompt than you'll give your students. Read the essay that the bot creates for you.

Then, give the students the rubric you'll use to grade them and ask them to grade the response from the artificial intelligence.

This helps students to be reflective about the grading process -- and about their own writing process. When students get grades on their own work, it's easy to take it personally -- or to dismiss it because it makes them feel like they've messed up a lot. But when they critique the work of a bot that doesn't have feelings, it eliminates a lot of those emotions. 

9. Debate the bot.

This came from that conversation with Jen, too, and she said she's seen this one shared on social media a lot.

Let students (as individuals, in pairs or small groups, or even as a whole-group activity) debate ChatGPT (or a similar tool). 

Students take one side of a debate. The AI takes the other. Students plug their points in and ask the bot to rebut. 

It gives them low-stakes practice -- and as much practice as they want -- to hone their debate skills. Plus, they may see talking points for their own stance (or that their opponent may use) so they can strengthen their argument.

10. Ask the bot for advice.

One more takeaway from this conversation with Jen! (Although several of the ideas below were sparked during that conversation ... so, you know, credit where credit is due.)

Jen asked ChatGPT very generally, "Give me some advice." It gave her some general (yet very good) ideas on managing stress and relationships and mental wellbeing.

A bot can't be a replacement for counseling or medical help. But we do take advice from friends, family ... even strangers sometimes. If students are struggling with just about anything, they can get advice from this artificial intelligence -- an AI that's working with much of the entirety of the internet as its dataset.

11. Use it to summarize texts.

If a text that your students are reading is in the dataset of ChatGPT (or a similar tool), they could always try to ask it for a summary of the whole thing -- or of certain chapters, sections, acts, scenes, etc. This is what we used SparkNotes and Cliff's Notes for years ago. Of course, SparkNotes and Cliff's Notes were controversial in the past -- "if they read those, they'll never read the text!" -- but eventually we found ways that they could support learning, too.

Seeing a summary of a text that you've just read can help you process what you've read. It's similar in nature to a book club. You hear what other people think and observe about the text and it helps inform your view of it.

This could also be a helpful strategy for reviewing before a quiz or a test.

12. Use it for insight into big, difficult-to-solve problems.

Before you read this one, just remember ... I taught high school Spanish for 10+ years. I'm not a math or science teacher, and I kind of struggled with those during school. That said ...

If you -- or your students -- come up with a math or science problem bigger than you know how to solve (or don't want to take the time to solve), ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool).

If it can solve it, it'll show you an answer. But, more importantly, you'll gain some insight into the process of solving it. And even if it can't solve it, it'll tell you why.

You could also ask it bigger societal questions to see what it would say. I asked it how to solve world hunger, and here's what I got:

Eliminating world hunger is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires the efforts of governments, international organizations, and individuals around the world. Some strategies that have been proposed to address this issue include:

  1. Increasing agricultural productivity: This can be done through the use of advanced technologies such as precision farming and genetically modified crops, as well as by improving infrastructure and access to education and training for farmers.
  2. Reducing food waste: Up to one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted, which represents a significant opportunity to increase food availability. Reducing food waste can be achieved through better storage and transportation systems, as well as by increasing awareness about the issue.
  3. Improving distribution systems: In many cases, food is available, but it is not distributed effectively to those who need it most. Improving distribution systems, including supply chains and transportation networks, can help get food to the people who need it.
  4. Promoting economic development: Economic growth can lead to increased food production and greater access to food, as well as the resources and infrastructure needed to address food insecurity.
  5. Providing emergency food aid: In times of crisis, such as during natural disasters or armed conflict, providing emergency food aid can help prevent starvation and malnutrition.

Ultimately, addressing world hunger will require a combination of these and other approaches, as well as strong political will and sustained commitment from governments and other organizations.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

14. Anticipate the response you'd expect from AI.

If your students have been studying a topic, this could be a great retrieval / brain dump activity -- and a way of ranking the importance of all the things they've learned about the topic.

Tell them that you're going to ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to summarize what they've been studying. Ask them what they think the bot will say. It'll prompt them to recall knowledge from their memory (which strengthens long-term memory). Plus, when they rank them in importance (because the bot won't list everything it knows), they'll have to give a justification.

All of this leads to deeper understanding of the material -- and strengthened long-term memory.

15. Take several responses and make a better product.

ChatGPT often has a button at the bottom of a response that says "regenerate response." That's because each time you ask it a question, it generates something original, doing the work from scratch every time.

If you were asked to pick a movie as your favorite, describe it, and tell why you like it in 60 seconds, your response each time would be a little different. (For me, the movie would probably be different every time!) It's an original, unique work each time. ChatGPT works kind of like that every time.

Ask it to answer a question or write something for you. Then ask it again ... and again ... and again. Get five (or more!) versions of the same prompt.

Have students (individually, in pairs/small groups, or even ask a class) take the best parts from those versions and turn it into a better final product.

This can be a scaffolding strategy for students who struggle to write essays or papers. It introduces them to some of the strategy of crafting a written work without all of the taxing effort of doing the whole thing.

16. Create personalized learning experiences.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can AI be used to help teach in the classroom?"

AI can be used to create personalized learning experiences for students by adapting the content and pace of instruction to each student's needs and abilities. This can be achieved through the use of adaptive learning software, which adjusts the material based on the student's performance.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

17. Provide tutoring or coaching.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can AI be used to help teach in the classroom?"

AI can be used to provide one-on-one tutoring or coaching to students, either in person or remotely. This can be particularly useful for students who may not have access to human tutors, or for subjects that are difficult to teach in a traditional classroom setting.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

18. Generate prompts and questions to facilitate discussions.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to facilitate discussions among students by posing questions and prompts that encourage critical thinking and encourage students to engage with the material in a deeper way.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

19. Provide information and answer questions.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to provide students with information on a wide range of topics, and to answer their questions on those topics. This can be particularly useful for subjects that may be difficult to understand or that require a lot of background knowledge.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

20. Supplement in-person instruction.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to supplement in-person instruction by providing additional resources and materials for students to explore on their own, or by offering additional support and assistance outside of the classroom.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

What else? How could ChatGPT and artificial intelligence be used as a classroom tool? Share your ideas in a comment below -- and check out what others say!

How to define "cheating" and "plagiarism" with AI

What is cheating? What is plagiarism?

We thought we had a pretty clear idea of how we'd define both of these.

As more and more artificial intelligence (AI) come on the scene, we're going to have to update our definitions.

That is ... if we want our education to be relevant to our students' future.

If AI tools are everywhere -- and they're only going to get better -- they'll be a vital part of the workforce when students progress through school and graduate. 

So our definitions will have to morph.

The question is ... where will we draw the line?

Here's a slide I shared during a conference presentation about ChatGPT and AI in education. It was the most-shared slide on social media from that presentation.

We're going to have to draw a line -- as educators, as schools, even as school districts -- to determine what we're going to allow and what we aren't.

First, let's make sure we're clear on these two words. Here are my best definitions for these terms ...

Cheating: When a student does something dishonest in academic work that misrepresents what they understand or are able to do for an unfair advantage.

Plagiarism: When a student represents some type of work to be their own creation when, in reality, it isn't their own work.

Those definitions might not be perfect, but they highlight an important reality.

There's LOTS of gray area. It's fuzzy and unclear.

Which of these would you consider "cheating" or "plagiarism"? (From the image above ...)

  • Student plugged prompt into AI, copied response and submitted it to the teacher.
  • AI created a response. Student read, edited, adjusted, and submitted.
  • Student created multiple AI responses, used the best parts, edited, and submitted.
  • Student wrote main ideas. AI generated a draft and offered feedback to improve.
  • Student consulted the internet/AI for ideas, then wrote and submitted.
  • Student wrote all assignment content without consulting AI or the internet.

There's a good chance your gut reaction -- your visceral answer to this question -- relates to how our current education system operates or how you've taught in the past.

Of course, things are changing.

The artificial intelligence available today is some of the least powerful our students will see in their lifetime. (ChatGPT is like the MySpace of artificial intelligences. We'll look back on it and laugh at how powerful we thought it was.)

Think of a 10-year-old in school right now. She graduates high school in eight years. She graduates college in four years. 

By the time she enters the workforce, artificial intelligence has improved and evolved for 12 years. 

As we consider our answer to the question, "What is plagiarism/cheating?," our answer has to be relevant to that student in 12 years

Also, if we want to be fair, we have to ask ourselves this question:

Which of the above options would we use in our work as adults? If we're willing to use AI in our work right now, it's only going to become more commonplace in the future.

Of course, as educators, we're still trying to grasp AI and its place in the world.

We don't have to have the perfect answer right now.

But now is the time to start trying to get it right.

Should we block it or try to ban it?

If we block ChatGPT (or tools like it) and think we're solving a problem, we're deluding ourselves.

There are two decisions that need to be addressed since ChatGPT was released.

A big, systemic decision that needs to be made is: What will teaching and learning look like with ChatGPT and AI in existence?

We've started unpacking that above (and in conversations all over the globe). 

But there's a more pressing question, and it's one that requires a bit of nuance ...

Do we block it at school?

Immediately, schools and districts must decide whether to block access to it on school networks and devices.

That decision, however, won't solve "the problem." (I use quotes because I'm not convinced that the proliferation of AI is a problem. It really does disrupt how we have done -- and are doing -- school, though.)

Students still will have access to it. It's like social media. It can be blocked at school. But students can access it (as I mentioned above) on their phones under a desk, in the restroom, on a bus, at home ... anywhere. They'll get access.

But someone has to decide. Should it be blocked at school?

What educators in my social media circles are saying ...

The resounding answer has been, "No, don't block it." 

Their rationale: This is the future. It's not going anywhere. Students must have access to it. It'll prepare them for the future. Why would we want to keep students from accessing something so powerful?

There's something to know about these social media circles, though. Lots of people in them aren't in the classroom and don't have a good perspective on what full-time teachers go through.

(Full disclosure: I don't teach full time anymore either. I'm in my wife's and kids' schools a lot, but I don't teach full time.)

The ones in these social media circles that are in the classroom? They're dreamers (like me). They've seen the ways the system is broken. They're ready for change.

In the end -- if we're playing the long game (and I think we are), I side with them. 

Generally.

What regular teachers in regular classrooms are saying ...

If you walk into any given classroom in schools across the United States (and some parts of the world)? 

The resounding answer has been, "Please block it. Right now!"

These are the teachers who write lesson plans. Every single day.

They grade student work. Every single day.

They teach and supervise and facilitate class. Every single day.

They never have enough time to do what they need. Their checklist is never complete.

There's a level of survival in these classrooms.

Reinventing their teaching methods and assignments at the drop of a hat because a new AI bot came out?

They just don't have time for that. (And they don't have the capacity in their already fractured personal wellness to do that.)

I understand.

I think, deep down inside, these teachers know the potential of AI and tools like ChatGPT. They know that it's going to change how teaching and learning looks. 

They just need to survive the day. The week.

They need to survive until break.

They're on the front lines, dealing with all sorts of difficult situations and a lack of resources and a lack of respect for the classroom and the teaching profession.

They also just did this. Do you remember? (If you don't, you probably haven't taught in a classroom for a few years.)

Teachers are just starting to feel a sense of normality after pandemic-induced remote teaching. They had to reinvent the way they teach -- immediately! -- to a remote format, one that most weren't prepared for, technologically or pedagogically or logistically.

As teacher wellness expert Mandy Froehlich (Twitter: @froehlichm) said, they're trying to get out of emergency mode. And when you finally get out of emergency mode, there's a let-down ... an emotional, sometimes physical, response to the trauma you've dealt with.

So to those that look down their noses at teachers who are begging for this to be blocked, let's just remember the recent past. And let's also remember that they likely understand the impact of this.

They just want to survive the week. Survive until break. 

Survive until we get a spare moment to think about this. Learn about it. Brainstorm some ways to change our assignments so that they can't 

A proposal for schools/districts that's a middle ground

(Hear my justification for this proposal in the video)

Let's not make a long-term decision to block ChatGPT (and tools like it) forever.

Let's also not make a long-term decision to leave it open forever.

Let's block it until the end of the school year.

(I'm not totally confident that this is the right answer. But I haven't heard anyone argue for the middle ground yet, so I want to add this voice.)

Let's agree to block it on student devices and networks (and allow it on teachers devices/networks if possible) just until the end of the school year.

Here's why ...

Teachers need some time to regroup ...

  • To look at their assignments and consider how they'd like to change them in light of this new technology.
  • To look at how they teach and how this might be incorporated in it.
  • To look at how technology like this might augment classroom discussions

... and on and on.

We need some space. Some time. A little room to ponder, to sit with all of this. To talk to other educators about what they think. To talk to students and to parents.

Let's just give teachers a little space.

However, let's also make a few things clear.

1. This isn't the long-term answer. This is a stopgap to help struggling teachers to survive this sudden change.

2. Students still will have access to this. Just because we block this on student networks and devices doesn't mean they won't plug your writing prompts and questions into this technology. This just buys you a little time to finish the year with your traditional assignment types to come up with something new.

A faculty-wide discussion and brainstorming session about best ways to teach and learn is in order at the end of the year. Everyone shares their best ideas and prepares for their implementation. (And let's pay the teachers for this extra meeting, OK?)

Then, at the beginning of next school year, let's open the ChatGPT floodgates.

Even if this isn't the solution you (or your school/district) comes to, there are two decisions that need to be made:

1. Will this technology be blocked on school networks and devices?

2. How will we evolve our teaching practice now that these technologies exist?

What other resources can help me learn about this?

Below is a list (albeit incomplete!) of resources I've found in the weeks after ChatGPT came into existence. I'll share links along with why I like them as resources. Please add other resources -- even your own! -- in the comments below!

ChatGPT in Classrooms: What to Know (U.S. News and World Report) -- Students, teachers and others in education weigh in on this new AI tool and the implications it has in the classroom.

What can English teachers do about ChatGPT (Learning in Room 213) -- This post explores what ChatGPT is, the problems with blocking it, and suggestions: entice personal engagement, avoid formulaic assignments, build critical thinking, etc.

No, Artificial Intelligence Won't Destroy High School English (or Any Other Subject) (John Spencer, Spencer Author) -- I've waited to read this because I wanted to create my own piece of content without copying anyone, but I've been excited to see John's thoughts on it. Hang on a second, let me read it ... Yep, it's as fantastic as I expected. Some of John's points include: "Almost any task can be automated, but what's the joy in that?"; "If we outsources every task, we might short-circuit the learning"; and "AI can't replace your voice." This is really, really good.

Human Skills in a World of Artificial Intelligence (John Spencer, Spencer Author) -- In this post (which dovetails wonderfully with the one above), John outlines the problems with a couple approaches to AI and advocates for another one: "the human approach."

The conversation about how much we care (Twitter thread by Evan Weinberg @emwdx) -- This thread doesn't seem to have gotten much attention, but I really like where Evan's going with it. He introduces it with: "As we see start to see how easy it is for a tool like #ChatGPT to generate text that sounds convincingly like us, it is starting the conversation about how much we care. We care a lot more than we might initially admit."

Ideas for using ChatGPT in the Classroom (IB English Guys) -- They opened up this collaborative Google Doc to share ideas. There are 10+ ideas with rationale and comments from educators.

AI Homework (Stratechery) -- This is an interesting, thoughtful, nuanced look at the intersection of homework and artificial intelligence. He talks about the struggles that ChatGPT has with math, and he even runs a virtual machine (like a Linux terminal) inside ChatGPT.

Yes, Teachers, You Should Be Panicking About AI (The Broken Copier) -- This post provides six reasons why we should be concerned about ChatGPT and AI (in light of the condition of education in many classrooms right now), helping us make sense of how we move forward.

The College Essay is Dead (The Atlantic) -- This was one of the first posts I saw (that was circulated widely) about the impact of ChatGPT in education. It's a paid article on The Atlantic. I subscribed so I could read it so that I could tell you ... it's talking points and not much else. If you'd like to read commentary about it and you're a subscribers to The Atlantic, go for it. I wouldn't pay for it ... especially since I'm focused on what we can actually do with this technology.

No, ChatGPT is Not the End of High School English. But Here's the Useful Tool It Offers Teachers (Forbes) -- Here's the best point in this whole article (so you don't have to read it): ChatGPT is an excellent prompt tester. Think you’ve come up with a good writing prompt? Feed it to the chatbot. If it can come up with an essay that you would consider a good piece of work, then that prompt should be refined, reworked, or simply scrapped.

Learning More about Chat GPT in Education (Jennifer Casa-Todd) -- Jen has written books about social media, digital literacy, and technology's impact on children's lives. She shares some of the best things she's found about the topic.

Education is about to radically change: AI for the masses (Nate McClennen and Rachelle Dené Poth for Getting Smart) -- AI already does and will continue to impact education – along with every other sector. Innovative education leaders have an opportunity to build the foundation for the most personalized learning system we have ever seen.

Let's Chat: OpenAI and ChatGPT (THRIVEinEDU podcast by Rachelle Dené Poth) -- Have you tried OpenAI yet? What has your experience been? Rachelle shares some background info, insights, questions and more in this episode. She also shares at her blog: www.Rdene915.com.

Chatbots in Education: Middle School and High School (Heather Olvey and Terri Files) -- These teachers pulled together slide decks with ideas for implementing chatbots in the classroom.

Have a resource to add -- yours or from someone else? Share it in the comments below!

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  • I used ChatGPT AI to have generate story ideas. These are prompts. Yes, AI could potentially write the story too, but these are creative, fun ideas your students want to write! Have them generate their own ideas in class.

  • Jen says:

    Hi, Matt! Still processing how AI and ChatGPT will work in the classroom, but I 100% agree that we can’t ignore it! https://creativetechteacher.com/we-need-to-talk-about-ai-in-education/

  • Tolli says:

    One solution might be if someone produces a new “old” machine, almost like an oldfashioned typewriter, that students can use on graded tests, and which can only be connected to a printer, since some may complain hand-writing is difficult. Then source material must be brought in paper version. This would also teach pre-planning and thorough preparation.

  • BigMoney says:

    ChatGPT is really helpful is most cases. Sometimes though, it could lead to errors for someone that is new to that specific topic if they need help.

  • Carson Carmicheal says:

    I am somewhat skeptical of the dark side of this type of AI application, in that someone could train the AI with certain bias. Example: conservative bias, religious bias, liberal bias, woke bias, environmental bias. then when it is used in education with these underlying biases the students are actually being indoctrinated. If all of the content that students get is AI generated (all the content that was fed to the AI to train it) then that bias embedded in the AI will transfer. To be a critical thinker you have to have a knowledge foundation of your own, you cannot rely AI to be your only knowledge foundation (source) because without it you would really know nothing.

  • Kerry Seip says:

    As a band / choir / journalism / manufacturing / technology teacher AND mother of a comp sci college student, AI and ChatBOTS are interesting to me. Watching Mr. Piercey and what he did with his students has my gears turning for use in my own classes. My son has talked about AI/ChatBOT a lot and has taken a few classes as well. Just because it’s new and the potential of use could be used poorly by students doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Bring on the AI!

  • Really nice and informative post

  • Thanks so much for sharing my post! Jackie, Room 213

  • Jen McVeity says:

    Awesome exploration of GPT3 and AI and the ramifications in the classroom. I have been squirreling away learning about this, but this is the best one stop resource I’ve found. Such a super exciting major breakthrough. Students will be empowered if we can implement some of these strategies.

    As an author (of 20 boooks) I can see so many amazing applications to help creators. And no, I’m not afraid I’ll be obsolete! 🙂

  • Kellie Mallon says:

    Super helpful for all aspects of the AI universe. Love all the pro ideas and the limitations. Thank you so much for being on top of this and getting us resources, commenters, and ideas right now as we navigate this new normal.

  • Ron Rogers says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. Students need to learn about everything happening in technology advancement.

  • I have created a slide deck that I’m using as a takeaway resource for admin, faculty, etc. as we have discussions here at school. “AI – A Discussion for Education” https://bit.ly/AI-EDU-Discussion

  • These are all great resources and ideas! In this first in a series about AI in education, I discuss some potentially great (but in a surprising way) ramifications of AI for education. My guest on this episode of Overthrowing Education is a pretty entertaining AI site. https://tinyurl.com/AIonOE1

  • Lots of great comments and resources shared. thanks!

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