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  • Writer's pictureNivrrithi Arvindkumar

ChatGPT in Classrooms: A grave error or the right endeavour?

Will artificial intelligence one day surpass human thinking? With the rapid progress of AI there are concerns that its abilities will one day lead it to take over the world- and our jobs. Yes, it is an efficacious and beneficial tool and is so entwined in our lives, but can it really thrive in a human-dominating environment? Perhaps, in a classroom, where tons of future pioneers and change-makers seek expertise and knowledge?

There is a heated, yet inconclusive debate whether ChatGPT- an AI software setting the Internet ablaze and its users amazed at its output- can be functional in a classroom.

Olya Kudina, an Assistant Professor of Ethics Philosophy in Technology from Delft University, Netherlands is an ethicist of technology focusing on the dynamic interaction between values and technologies. I had the opportunity to interview her and gather her thoughts on ChatGPT and how she’s incorporated it in her classroom.

She says, “I have dual perspectives about using ChatGPT in class. On the one hand, I want my students to not miss out on these technological developments that are taking place around them. On the other hand, I'm very realistic as to what it takes to introduce a commercial technology, of which the source code and the training database is behind locked doors, and essentially, it is a black box. Now, I do not make the results of the students’ educational process contingent on this. We use it as a case study, and as an object of critical reflection in itself. So that way, I think that is a plausible way to use it in class that I could recommend.”

Arguably, many have stated that ChatGPT in the classroom could be the reboot education desperately needs. However, the paramount question remains: How?

Olya says, “I integrated it as part of a debate style exercise. In the first part of the class, I separated the students into groups and those groups were to debate within themselves about the use of AI in society. In the second part, students had to introduce ChatGPT to their arguments. So we let ChatGPT weigh in on their positions and give a judgement basically, on itself. What was important was the students, because they were the experts on that opinion. They were evaluating the output that ChatGPT was generating- how believable, how trustworthy it was.”

Now we’ve answered the crucial “how”, what about the students? How do we ensure a collaborative and integrative learning system, when the target audience is ‘students’?

Olya shares how ChatGPT didn’t hinder her from maintaining a good tutor-student relationship- a relationship with no policing involved.

“What it calls for me as an educator is being proactive in designing my assessment tools in a way that accommodates the students potentially using this technology. I also changed, I designed a new academic integrity policy in my class that does not emphasise me being a police force, you know, spying on students or trying to detect whether they used ChatGPT or not. I call on their proactive attitude, their responsibility in trying to acknowledge whether and how they use ChatGPT in producing certain parts of the essay”, she says.

Although ChatGPT’s a powerful tool, we must be cautious when it comes to students involving themselves in the whirlpool of artificial intelligence. Olya also employs this caution.

“I’m wary about what introducing it in class means for the environmental costs of running this model, because I'm essentially, you know, lending credibility to this technology and to the huge environmental costs of running this model that I'm promoting by giving it in class. So it's a trade off that I'm very aware and cautious of. The way I'm implementing it is a very proportional and balanced way.”

While it is beneficial to utilise this growing AI platform and embrace it, rather than shunning it completely, Olya advises educators to not entirely put their faith into ChatGPT.

“I think my number one message is, be wary of what you're buying into when you're using this technology, because by using a corporate tool that is behind closed doors, you aren't abiding by an agenda of somebody else, that you're not able to verify, but certain political messages about certain preferences and also a belief that you might not share the answer.”

In conclusion, while ChatGPT was not designed specifically for classroom use, it has the potential to thrive in educational settings. With its ability to provide instant feedback, personalize learning, and a wealth of knowledge, ChatGPT can enhance the learning experience and help students achieve their academic goals. But do keep in mind that technology is a double-edged sword; it can bring in numerous benefits and disasters.

Written by Nivrrithi Arvindkumar

Nivrrithi is a seventh-grader from Chennai who strongly believes that words are revolutionary, if exploited to their fullest potential. She is a ballet and tap dancer who firmly believes that it transports one into a world of reverie. She greatly enjoys public-speaking and writing powerful pieces that centers around intense emotion. She hopes to publish a short story and a photography blog which is currently in the making and is a part of her school's Newsletter Team. Her main drive is fascination that keeps her ardent about the generalized idea of learning.

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