ChatGPT: What is it, and how does it fit into education?

09/03/20234 minute read
ChatGPT: What is it, and how does it fit into education?

ChatGPT was launched in late November last year, and only two months into its launch it had amassed over 100 million, monthly active users.  To put this into context it took social media giants TikTok nine months and Instagram two and a half years to reach this level. But what is ChatGPT exactly, and how does it fit into education?

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI-powered computer program created by OpenAI. It has been trained on vast amounts of text to understand and communicate in human language and delivers responses based on patterns.

To demonstrate ChatGPT’s abilities, we asked ChatGPT to persuade us, why this tool should be used to write a newsletter article, and this is what it answered:

There are several reasons why you should consider using me to write a newsletter article:

  1. Quality of Writing: As a language model trained by OpenAI, I have been trained on a massive amount of data, allowing me to generate high-quality writing in a variety of styles and tones.
  2. Time-Saving: Writing a newsletter article can be time-consuming, especially if you're not confident in your writing abilities. By using me, you can save time and focus on other important aspects of your business or organisation.
  3. Versatility: Whether you need a formal, informative article or a more lighthearted, conversational piece, I can adjust my writing style to suit your needs.
  4. Consistency: With me, you can ensure consistency in your newsletter articles. You don't have to worry about variations in tone, style, or grammar across different articles.
  5. Customizability: I can be customized to fit your specific needs. You can provide me with guidelines, keywords, or any other specific requirements, and I will incorporate them into the article.

Overall, using me to write a newsletter article can help you save time, ensure high-quality writing, and achieve consistency in your newsletter's content.

All very persuasive and compelling reasons, however, ChatGPT is simply trained to generate words based on a given input. It can spit out long-form answers, meaning its responses are likely to be shallow, lacking depth and insight.  What we could do now, for example, is to ask ChatGPT to improve the content by rewriting and making it more engaging for a specific audience, and not assume it can provide accurate facts.  This will change, however, as the tool increases in sophistication.

According to Jamie Beaton, Founder of Crimson Education and CGA, ChatGPT is particularly disruptive for persuasive essays as it can quickly generate a range of arguments but is less effective at generating creative essay responses with novel ideas.

How will ChatGPT impact education?

This leads us to ask how will ChatGPT impact our online schooling environment and our students.

ChatGPT can help our students:

  • Access information quickly, provide study tips, or for example, fact-check their maths homework after completion and provide step-by-step solutions to problems or assist in checking if the code they have written for their computer science class looks functional. It can also be used to assist with their writing skills and critical thinking development.

ChatGPT can hinder our students:

  • It does not replace the need for a student to develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, research, synthesising, writing and communication skills.
  • Students should not use ChatGPT to write their assignments or to complete their essays or term papers as this means they will have developed little knowledge of what they are studying.
  • ChatGPT does not know if an answer is correct as it is prediction based.

Ensuring academic integrity:

  • Educators are already adjusting ways of ensuring students are continually learning with the arrival of ChatGPT.

  • Plagiarism tools are being developed to detect the use of ChatGPT, such as ZeroGPT and TurnItIn has also recently made changes.

    Jamie Beaton shares this:

At CGA, we have coursework focused on AI, and emphasize rapid math acceleration so students can get exposure to this early.

Plagiarism detection will evolve like the cyber security industry where hackers and companies continually duelling for supremacy. Existing plagiarism detection software will need to quickly incorporate AI screening or be rendered irrelevant.

The future of ChatGPT

Technology can be a tool for positive things and good social change. ChatGPT and similar language models will increase in capability and prevalence. However, they are not a replacement for human expertise and should be seen as tools that augment and enhance it.

We are teaching our students for an unknown future and must be thoughtful about the phasing in of these technologies.  ChatGPT and other AI tools will increase personalisation in learning, eventually becoming an integral part of the learning process.  It is important we equip students with the ability to harness its power to help prepare them for their future.