Chat GPT ushers in new era

Chat GPT is a new artificial intelligence chatbot that has recently caught the attention of many people in education. With the ability to generate responses to nearly any prompt, it has been praised for its benefits, while others worry about its potential for misuse.

The AI launched in November of 2022, and information quickly spread. Daniel Cohen, an English teacher of 13 years, started to hear social media concerns about it over winter break and knew it would change learning and teaching forever. Many students such as senior Jay Kane heard about it from peers, who were saying it was very helpful.

During this time, many people began experimenting with it and found it was far from perfect and potentially dangerous. Lesley Stahl, a reporter for CBS, found that it would present false information as truth, since it registers all information as fact. On top of this, the AI would always generate a response, even if people were trying to have it generate harmful information such as creating fake news articles or providing dangerous information like how to make rudimentary weapons.

In March of 2023, GPT-4 was released and is still the version available to the public. It made improvements to the accuracy and security of the AI, but it is unclear to what exact extent. With its growing effectiveness and popularity, it has managed to become a major issue in education.

Both students and teachers have been using AI to widely varying degrees. Perhaps most notably, students are using it for help with assignments. Senior Liam Lesiowski said, “I’ve used it just messing around trying to get interesting ideas out of it for English assignments, but I wouldn’t copy anything. Just for ideas.”

Lesiowski said, “It’s OK for students to use it for ideas but not copy it and change a few words.” Similarly, Kane said, “It’s fine to use it for a little bit of help but if you use it too much it might not be better at what it’s being used for.”

Cohen has not outright detected exploitation of the AI, but said, “If they’re using it, they’re using it.” He compared it to the calculator. Now everyone can do the basics, so teachers will have to reevaluate what’s the most important thing about teaching. “Is it the skills of writing,” Cohen asked, “or is it what reading and writing kind of does to you as a person and like, the artistic and humanistic aspects of humanities?”

He went on to say, “I think [AI is] a really valuable tool. I think we can use it…it expands [our capabilities] instead of becoming an us-versus-them, cheating not cheating.”

Students are not the only ones integrating the AI. Teachers are also using it to get their work done. Cohen said, “Teachers were using it as a way to write quizzes, like a basic reading quiz.” Some teachers elsewhere are using it in the classroom. They give it a prompt and have the students improve what it writes. He also said they’ve done things where when the student is done writing, they compare the students’ writing and what ChatGPT generates.

Kane and Leisowski were asked about teachers’ usage. Kane said, “Chat GPT has access to infinitely more information than they can teach us. At least double check it only goes over things they covered.” Leisowski said, “It’s fair for teachers to use it as long as the questions are accurate, because it’s just a tool they are using to get a result they can do themselves anyways.”

When asked if ChatGPT should assist students, the AI replied, “It’s important to note that while I can be a valuable tool, students should also engage in active learning, critical thinking, and independent problem-solving. Using me as a tool should be complemented with other educational resources and guidance from teachers to foster a well-rounded learning experience.”