Can ChatGPT write my essays, AND do my homework?
Do we really need the views of children and teenagers? This question comes up many times, when it comes to student innovation, action taken up by students, and yes, in student journalism. But when it comes to AI and technology in India, student’s views rarely come to the forefront. In this article, we’re exploring student’s views on the double-edged software that’s influenced people in a good way, and in a bad way- ChatGPT.
ChatGPT, Open AI’s most popular chatbot, has been making headlines since its inception in November 2022. It gained 100 million users in January and became the fastest-growing consumer app in history, according to reports. But what even is ChatGPT? In order to delve into the many ups and downs of this platform, we need to know about it, so here is what ChatGPT really is-
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is a language model developed by OpenAI, designed to generate human-like text. It is also used for answering questions, translating languages, composing music, generating stories and poems, summarising, writing code, and much more. In simpler terms, just a software that does whatever you tell it to do, as long as it’s ethical.
I asked ChatGPT- “write a 20 word essay on Abraham Lincoln, and here’s what it said- “Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, known for his leadership during the Civil War and abolishing slavery.”
I was shocked to see that the text that ChatGPT was able to produce was quite understandable and easily written, as if an 11 year old had done the work. For example,
this meant anyone could ask ChatGPT to generate information, copy the texts generated and apply them anywhere, from an essay to an article! (and no, i did not use ChatGPT to write this article!)
ChatGPT has caused some stir in schools and colleges, with some schools even banning it. I talked to some students to understand their thoughts on ChatGPT.
“I think it could (encourage plagiarism), because people could use it to generate content that can be copied, and therefore plagiarised.”, says Gatik, a student from Grade 5.
Along with Gatik, many educators, school administrators, and even the CEO of Open AI, Sam Altman agree that it could encourage plagiarism or cheating. In his words, “ChatGPT is incredibly limited but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It's a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now.”
Other than cheating as the immediate, practical fear for this AI, it also has the propensity to spit out wrong or misleading answers.
But, maybe we are also driving towards a new future where ChatGPT can advance learning. As Deeksha, a student in higher education said-
“When new technology comes to the forefront, it always has the potential for negative and positive impact. To say that it by itself encourages cheating and plagiarism is erroneous - I think academic misconduct has always existed and will continue to exist till the underlying 'issues' surrounding what challenges academic integrity are addressed (namely, time management or course load management, etc).”
Even though it has the potential to give misinformation or plagiarised content, and can cause malware, it can be used (with caution) to create better learning experiences. Here is what this article from the New York Times had to say-
“Cherie Shields, a high school English teacher in Oregon, said that she had recently assigned students in one of her classes to use ChatGPT to create outlines for their essays comparing and contrasting two 19th-century short stories that touch on themes of gender and mental health: “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin, and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Once the outlines were generated, her students put their laptops away and wrote their essays longhand.”
Even ChatGPT’s flaws — such as the fact that its answers to factual questions are often wrong — can become a critical thinking exercise. Teachers can ask students to figure out what the chatbot did which was incorrect, or to evaluate its responses. As Deeksha says,
"I can see educators who need more interesting ways to frame their material using something like ChatGPT to create interesting prompts and ideas for their students.”
So, to conclude, students don’t have to dread that English home assignment, or that 100 word book report, they can just ask ChatGPT to write it for them, which can be a big downside in their learning abilities. However, ChatGPT can be used in classrooms as an additional learning tool, as well as the fact that both teachers and students need to be cautious in using this software and applying it in classwork. But, as said by students and articles, it can all come together as an amazing tool for learning. And as for the ways to use it in the education sector, the sky's the limit!
Written by Vaidehi Pant
Vaidehi is an enthusiastic study-lover by day, and an author/reader by night. She loves to dance, draw, write, swim and do internships :). She lives in Greater Noida with her family.