The current community buzz is about something called Chat GPT — a powerful AI bot that can engage in human-like conversation. It launched on Nov 30, 2022 — so, it’s been around for about 7 weeks — 7 weeks and it has already topped out at 1 million users. And, yes, it has stirred up a hornet’s nest of concern about how it will destroy education.
Breathe. Everybody breathe.
Here’s how Chat GPT works. It responds to user prompts based on a very large archive of information. It then uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate coherent responses to these prompts.
I’ve seen a few examples of its work and it’s pretty cool. Ironically, one of these examples was generated from a local teacher request asking it to write a ‘Seasonal message to all staff from the Superintendent’. It was pretty good — made me giggle. It was almost as good as my message (#wink).
Chat GPT still makes factual errors (especially because it is pulling from historical and not real-time data) but it can certainly string some coherent sentences and paragraphs together. Without a doubt, there will be future AI bots that build on the Chat GPT experience and they will all get better at what they do.
Remember to breathe.
None of the technology innovations that have come about have decimated education. Why? Because we have learned to leverage them. By teaching students HOW to use them correctly, these innovations have become part of a more accessible and equitable learning environment.
I’m guessing that when I mentioned Wolfram Alpha many of you likely had no idea what I was talking about. Yet, when it launched in May 2009, it sent shock waves through the education system. I never hear about this particular website today –never. And it is still on the web.
We learn how to accommodate these new tools.
You already use AI in your home with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. AI currently surrounds us in our daily lives and will continue to grow in its applications. It’s not disappearing — so, we might as well figure out how to use it properly.
My point is this … with each of these innovations, including Chat GPT, there have been tremors sent throughout education that we need to do something drastic like banning them. That doesn’t work. Technologies become ubiquitous in a short amount of time. Trying to ban them in schools is like trying to stop a river by throwing a rock in the middle — you may slow the river down for a split second, but it soon finds its way around the obstacle.
Banning an innovation also misses golden opportunities to build awareness and expectations about its use as well as reinforcing the importance of personal honesty and integrity.
Using the education system to teach about technologies seems like a WIN to me.
The sky has not fallen.
Chat GPT is simply another tool in our growing toolbox. Now that it’s here, we need to read the owner’s manual to learn how to use it correctly.
(A good friend of mine, and fellow Superintendent blogger Chris Kennedy, has also written a post on the same topic — just before I published mine. I’ve copied it here for your interest. It’s a fun read: “Can We Please Not Jump to Banning Stuff!”)