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  • Writer's pictureNishtha Sehgal

“Mobile, Chat GPT, & other electronic items are not allowed inside the examination center.”

ChatGPT has taken the world by storm- from schools moving to ban it, to educators welcoming it into their classrooms. If students can get a chatbot to answer a number of factual questions in a test, is it a truly valid way to assess their learning? Could schools grant students more liberty and design assessments in a manner that compels them to express their thoughts and make them more authentic? In this article, we look at ChatGPT as a way to redesign how schools teach, and how students learn.

Recently, I visited my school to collect my 10th grade Board Exam Admit Card. I was glancing through the guidelines when this particular sentence caught my eye,

Mobile, Chat GPT, & other electronic items are not allowed inside the examination center.”

Yes, the latest boon to human creativity, ChatGPT successfully managed to wriggle its way into our educational systems and assessments. This buzzy AI chatbot, ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 by Open AI and quickly became a popular tool for helping students with their assignments and research. It is trained on a massive dataset of text, allowing it to write eloquent essays, solve science and math problems, and converse with the user in a manner that is surprisingly human.

One has to simply feed a prompt to the bot like, “Write me a 150 words essay on the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte”, and it would generate a comprehensive and complete answer, with dates and key events.

The image is a screengrab from ChatGPT, where the author has asked ChatGPT to generate a 150 word essy on the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
ChatGPT's write-up on Napoleon Bonaparte

It's quite astonishing to see how much technology has developed and how conveniently it can be accessed. However, what's even more alarming (and quite concerning too!) is the sheer extent to which it is misused. This survey, conducted with 100 educators and 1000 students found that 89% of students have used ChatGPT to help with a homework assignment.

  • 48% of students admitted to using ChatGPT for an at-home test or quiz, 53% had it write an essay, and 22% had it write an outline for a paper.

  • 72% of college professors who are aware of ChatGPT are concerned about its impact on cheating

  • Over a third (34%) of all educators believe that ChatGPT should be banned in schools and universities, while 66% support students having access to it.

The last statistic was interesting, especially because many universities and schools in India are concerned about ChatGPT’s ability to render pitch perfect essays (in fact, it has also managed to pass some tests!). In response, they’ve blocked student’s access to ChatGPT (like my hall ticket states for me!). Schools in New York are moving to do the same.

However, if you think about it, like any advanced technology, ChatGPT is just a tool, like a knife - you can use it for good, like cutting fruit and staying healthy or to hurt somebody. There is massive global research in advanced AI and who knows what more ‘alarming’ applications are in store for us. The question is - how can we leverage these technologies for our learning and growth? Here are a few areas that came to my mind:

AI Literacy

Instead of blocking access, can we teach students to use AI responsibly? Integrating these technologies into the syllabus could be a way to teach students about its benefits, limitations, and negatives as well. John Villasenor- a professor of electrical engineering, law, public policy, and management at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) has an interesting approach towards ChatGPT. In an article he authored, he mentioned,

"This semester, I am telling the students in my class at the UCLA School of Law that they are free to use ChatGPT in their writing assignments. The time when a person had to be a good writer to produce good writing ended in late 2022, and we need to adapt. Rather than banning students from using labor-saving and time-saving AI writing tools, we should teach students to use them ethically and productively.”

Personalized self-paced learning

AI is all about personalizing the offering as per your taste, requirements, learning abilities, and medium of delivery. It can be used to customise learning and assessment to bring out true differentiation as per the aptitude of the pupils. For example, schools can use it to design lesson plans according to the learning needs of the student, by using prompts like “Design a lesson plan to teach the Archimedes principal to a kinesthetic learner” or “Explain the rise of the Ashoka empire to a visual learner”. Even students can use such prompts to learn any concept themselves! Tools such as ChatGPT can truly democratize learning.

Creative expansion

We are all limited by our surroundings, experiences, and exposure. There are things that we know, we know; there are things that we know, we don’t know; but there are things that we don’t even know, we don’t know. Technologies such as ChatGPT can make us aware of this last sphere, which we perhaps wouldn't have imagined otherwise, and hence help us increase our knowledge & creativity. Some teachers encouraged students to use ChatGPT to design the outlines of their essays. They instructed students to ask ChatGPT to “Analyse any two 20th century paintings which hold historical and social significance, "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso and "Campbell's Soup Cans" by Andy Warhol.” Once ChatGPT created the outlines, students were asked to put their devices away and write the entire essay by themselves. This way, the students not only managed to enhance their knowledge over the topic but also learned how to interact with AI and extract useful information.

There could be many more uses that would come out in the near future, but I took the opportunity to ask ChatGPT how we could benefit from it. This is what it had to say for itself!

ChatGPT's response to how it can benefit the education system

Written by Nishtha Sehgal

Nishtha is a curious and compassionate student with keen interest in astrophysics and a knack for researching, designing, and painting. Her zest for adventure is only matched by her drive to learn about new cultures, landscapes, and ways of life. She finds joy in both the written word and melodic sounds. Whether lost in a novel or jamming out to her favorite tunes, Nishtha is always seeking new experiences and knowledge to enrich her life.

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