There have been many articles recently published about the threat of students using Chat GPT and similar tools to write papers and cheat on homework assignments. Teachers and parents have legitimate concerns about Chat GPT and how AI will evolve in the educational system.
We explore some of these concerns and explore what the future of education could look like.
AI Can Provide Students with One-on-One Attention
Many people may be familiar with Computer Adaptive Testing or CAT. These are tests that students take on a computer. Students are asked to answer several baseline questions and the computer adjusts the difficulty of the following questions based on the accuracy of their response.
Advancements in machine learning have improved on these early testing systems by being able to identify specific knowledge gaps. Topics like math require a sequential understanding of basic principles. Students who don’t fully understand one of the base principles will often fall behind in a traditional learning environment. Teachers are an increasingly limited resource in the United States and unfortunately do not have the time to individually coach every student to fill these knowledge gaps.
Artificial Intelligence like Chat GPT can help fill in knowledge gaps for students. The capability to ask questions, and follow-up questions at different reading levels makes Chat GPT a very useful tool to improve learning. As this technology is integrated with an increasing number of learning platforms, AI can assist students that otherwise may have been left behind.
Using Chat GPT to Correct Grammar to Improve Writing
Some teachers fear that students will use AI tools to write and plagiarize papers. What they may not realize is that Chat GPT can also explain grammatical errors to students. In the following example, we used Chat GPT to explain the difference between a common mix up between there and their.
AI tools could be used to help students become better writers and understand each individual error with a level of depth that goes beyond what a teach may have time for when they need to get through hundreds of papers in a short period of time.
Can Teachers Tell if You Use Chat GPT?
Yes, there are tools available that can detect if your writing was generated by an AI model such as Chat GPT. The tools used to detect AI generated content are new and will continue to improve over time. The example below is from zerogpt.com. It is just one of many new tools that have launched to detect AI writing.
We fully expect that AI text generation and the tools used to detect it will become a game of cat and mouse. This cycle occurs in many industries like computer hacking and cyber security, Ad-Blocking and Online Advertising, and advances in military weaponry leading to the advancement of improved defensive capabilities.
In addition to AI plagiarism detection tools, it’s important to remember that teachers have read hundreds if not thousands of papers similar to the ones that students are asked to write. It will be fairly obvious if one student is writing well above and beyond the writing level of their peers. After reading enough AI generated papers, teachers will have an intuitive understanding of what was and wasn’t written by a human.
Working Alongside AI Will be a Necessary Skill
While some schools have outright banned Chat GPT, we consider it a temporary solution that buys educators a brief amount of time to make sense of the upcoming technological revolution.
The use of artificial intelligence will continue to grow. People are discovering new ways to use Chat GPT every day. Even with as easy as the tools are to use, there is till some nuance to getting the most out of them efficiently. New career paths like prompt engineering are emerging already where people are specializing in writing better prompts to get the best results that they can out of language models like Chat GPT.
It’s too soon to tell if the career field will last, or if it will become less necessary as Chat GPT and competitors continue to improve. Answers that are difficult or too complex to get on the first try today may be much easier to get in a future update. Alternatively, as chat models get more complicated the need for prompt engineering could increase. At the time it’s too early to say, but knowing how to interact with AI assistants efficiently will be a needed skillset in the future.
AI will Become Unavoidable in the Workplace
Google Bard and Bing Chat are already being integrated into people’s daily online search experiences. The technology is also part of Google Workplace and Microsoft Office 365 Suite of products. It will soon be impossible to write an e-mail with AI suggesting the completion of words, sentences, paragraphs and pages. These products may have the option to turn off AI powered features but using them will be commonplace in the near future.
Due to the unavoidable nature of AI, we recommend that people begin investing time to learn how to best leverage technology like Chat GPT. It will be similar to personal computers becoming commonplace in the workplace. A younger generation that grows up using the technology will have a better understanding of how to leverage it than an older generation for whom its more foreign.
The Value of College isn’t the Memorization of Facts
As you get older and think back at what you learned in school, the specific facts and details get fuzzy over time. Many of the facts and techniques we learned in school never find a practical application in your day-to-day life or career. For example, an economics student may go on to have a career as a financial analyst where the skillset of analytical thinking will be used every day but they may never have to draw shifts in the IS-LM model.
In the example above, the ability to think like an economist is more valuable than the actual details and textbook work that was done at the time you were in school. The exercises and coursework help people develop the ability to think in a way that is much more valuable than being able to repeat facts.
Chat GPT and similar tools are able to reconfigure and repeat facts. They can even provide in-depth explanations of the why. These are very valuable tools, but if students lean on them too much and do not put in the work ultimately, they will not be receiving the long-term value of investing in education.
How will Teachers adapt to AI and Chat GPT?
Educators are going to have to learn to coexist with AI and Chat GPT. In some ways, embracing the new technology could help them get some time back into their day. AI could be used to check papers for grammatical errors, assist in personalizing teaching plans and assist in the creation of lesson plans.
As an alternative to relying on homework assignments for students to write papers, they may have to become assignments that are completed during class time where students can be more closely supervised. If a student comes to rely too heavily on AI tools for assistance it will become very difficult for them to pass exams when the tools are not available.
Is it Cheating to use Chat GPT for School Papers?
Yes, it’s cheating to copy and paste information from Chat GPT and take credit for it as your own writing. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for Chat GPT in writing. It’s a useful research tool for both broad topics and to drill down into deeper sub-topics.
The ability to ask follow-up questions give it a level of usefulness that goes beyond websites such as Wikipedia, but like Wikipedia the information provided should be validated and verified with other reliable sources. Tools like Bing Chat and Google Bard use information direct from the internet to summarize and provide information on current events. These tools are big time savers and foreshadow the future of searching the internet. It will be important to know how to use them in conjunction with other sources of information.
As AI and Chat GPT become commonplace in everyday life, students and teachers will have to adapt. It is impractical for educators to ban Chat GPT and other AI tools in the classroom. Students will benefit from understanding how to responsibly use AI as an assistant and has the potential to become a necessary job skill in the future.
We hope that teachers will find ways to utilize Chat GPT to get some time back into their already hectic days. We may also find a time in the future where students perform more class assignments with the assistance of AI to supplement individual learning but are expected to take tests with a pen and paper to ensure that they have internalized necessary skills and can complete tasks without the assistance of a computer.