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Lucubrate Magazine, February 1st, 2023
ChatGPT is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool taking the world by storm. The biggest lesson about the real world and the future of work is that technological change is not looming over a distant horizon – but now – and many in education are already late.
Students return to their school.
In the coming weeks, students in Australia will return to their school campuses across all levels – primary, secondary, university and TAFE.
Joining them will be their hard-working teachers and professors, who have prepared for the first areas of study, including comprehensive instructional lessons, subject-based resources, and assessment tasks.
However, returning to school in 2023 will be a new challenge. Not another wave of Covid-19 but a new pandemic nonetheless, one I suspect will have even greater implications for learning and learners than the health imperative of the past three years.
Enter ChatGPT. ChatGPT is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool taking the world by storm.
ChatGPT is a Game Changer.
ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot developed by OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company. ChatGPT has a remarkable ability to interact in conversational dialogue form and provide responses that can appear surprisingly human. Trained to follow human-like directions and generate responses using massive amounts of data, ChatGPT can accurately predict what word comes next in a sentence. Think predictive text on your mobile but on serious steroids and a scale previously unseen.
Humans are “generally” intelligent and can learn to do anything from writing poetry to drafting copies to file tax returns. ChatGPT is a game changer, in contrast to most current AI systems, because it is edging closer to such general intelligence.
These are some reasons for the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools to have a profound impact on learning and schooling moving forward:
- Personalised learning: Chatbots are an efficient use of time and could provide instant feedback and support to students, allowing them to progress at their own pace and learn in a way that is tailored to their individual needs and interests.
- Automation: AI tools could be used to automate certain aspects of the learning process, such as grading and assessment, freeing up teachers to focus on other areas of the curriculum.
- Engagement: Okonkwo and Ade-Ibijola (2021) found that by using chatbot tools to create games, quizzes, and other interactive activities, teachers could improve student engagement and motivation.
- Flexibility: AI tools could be used to create improved convenience and flexible learning environments that allow students to learn anytime, anywhere.
- Accessibility: Wollny et al. (2021) argue that chatbots could be used to create accessible learning experiences for students, particularly those with disabilities or learning challenges, providing alternative ways for students to engage with course material and participate in class discussions.
The program has its limitations for education, too, including a knowledge base that ends in 2021. ChatGPT and other AI tools may only partially replicate human interaction’s depth and complexity. Additionally, students need to learn how to think for themselves and solve problems independently. Relying too heavily on tools like ChatGPT could lead to a dependence on technology and a lack of critical thinking skills.
To mitigate concerns around privacy, it’ll be important for all learning communities and educators to be transparent about how they use these tools and ensure that student data is handled responsibly and ethically. And the perennial issue of equity could become more pronounced, as not all schools and students may have the resources or infrastructure to use them effectively. This could lead to a digital divide and further widen the gap between disadvantaged and more privileged students.
I don’t believe AI technology is going to bring an end to education, it only offers great potential to accelerate the long overdue transformation of schools and education systems.Adriano Di Prato
Without Technology, Schools will Become Irrelevant.
I’m curious about what level of revolutionary technological advancement ChatGPT is for education and society, although it feels like the Gutenberg Press level. Without technology like ChatGPT, schools will quickly become irrelevant. The use of technology in education is still an evolving field, and it still needs to be clarified exactly how these AI tools will be used and what their ultimate impact will be.
Undoubtedly, many educators and education systems will quickly denounce any technology that disrupts and arrests control away from the teacher and empowers the learner’s voice, agency, and advocacy. We saw this with mobile phones being banned in public schools across Victoria and New South Wales. I’ve also seen some teachers say they’ll do in-class essay assessments to avoid the possibility of plagiarism, preferring to ignore the relevance of technology in our lives over holding on to a nostalgic learning paradigm.
Should we Ban a Tool Like ChatGPT?
Barely a month after ChatGPT first launched when New York City’s Department of Education announced a ban on the tool for all New York public schools. “Due to concerns about negative impacts on student learning… access to ChatGPT is restricted on New York City Public Schools’ networks and devices,” Jenna Lyle, the deputy press secretary for the New York public schools, said in a statement.
The biggest lesson about the real world and the future of work is that technological change is not looming over a distant horizon – but now – and many in education are already late. Banning swift advancements in technology like ChatGPT may be well-intentioned, but it’s not going to be effective and will certainly not prepare students for the real world. In December 2021, the National Skills Commission released a report, The state of Australia’s skills 2021: now and into the future, that offers markers to help inform the development of education.
The National Skills Commission report illustrates that people need the right mix of technical knowledge and human and digital skills to thrive. Although literacy and numeracy will continue to be the building blocks, more is required to foster thoughtful, productive, connected, inventive, and ethical global citizens.
As routine manual and administrative activities are increasingly automated, jobs will require a higher level of care, computing, cognitive and communication skills. School leavers will need human skills that are not easily replicated by machines, such as creativity, problem-solving, adaptability, ethical awareness, emotional self-regulation, teamwork, and critical thinking. The reality is that AI tools like ChatGPT will change the relative value of these human skills and, therefore, what students should know and be able to do.
Personalised and Holistic Schooling
Although the software is still in its incubation phase, AI tools like ChatGPT may signify the eventual demise of our outmoded educational system, one rooted in the industrial revolution. This previous industrial era demanded a one-size-fits-all mass education. The fourth industrial revolution requires personalised, holistic schooling that will prepare humans to identify and develop their talent and competencies, manage their wellness and foster character strengths to thrive in a world driven by automation, machines, and technology.
I don’t believe AI technology will end education; it only offers great potential to accelerate the long-overdue transformation of our schools and educational systems.
If schools or systems ban ChatGPT and similar AI tools, they’ll say that they value yesterday’s thinking over the human advancement of now and tomorrow. How we respond today in embracing and utilising AI-powered tools like ChatGPT will determine the type of workforce, leaders, society, and nation we aspire for in our ever-changing world.
New Learning Potential
Educators have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. Harnessing the value of tools like ChatGPT to unlock powerful new learning capabilities and all learner possibility has the potential to prepare students to navigate a world in which artificial intelligence becomes the curve and our inherent human skills the important threads of a bold ecosystem for schooling, society, and all future human endeavour.
Okonkwo, C.W., & Ade-Ibijola, A. (2021). Chatbots applications in education: A systematic review. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 2, 100033.
Wollny, S., Schneider, J., Di Mitri, D., Weidlich, J., Rittberger, M., & Drachsler, H. (2021). Are we there yet?-a systematic literature review on chatbots in education. Frontiers in artificial intelligence 4.
Adriano Di Prato is an influential educational thought leader, former Deputy Principal, co-host of one of Australia’s leading educational podcasts, Game Changers and co-author of the Hawker Brownlow Education best seller, Game Changers: Leading Today’s Learning for Tomorrow’s World.
Lucubrate Magazine February 2023
The photo on the top of the article: Adobe Stock