Saturday, April 1, 2023

What do we do with ChatGPT in the classroom: ban it, oppose it or critically engage it?

Anyone who thinks ChatGPT is just another digital tool is because they haven’t tried it yet or haven’t thought carefully about its potential. On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to conduct conversations through written text.

Its operation is very simple. The person asks and ChatGPT answers. What makes this tool fundamentally different from other chatbots available is the degree of detail and realism of the responses it provides. He is able to make up stories, write essays, and perform many other tasks related to language, similar to a human. The social implications of this are still unknown, although many are already talking of a real revolution.

alarm in universities

Since its launch only two months ago, ChatGPT’s popularity has grown exponentially. The educational context is one of the realities where this phenomenon has become more pronounced.

Recently, some Australian universities have acted on the first indications that some students were using AI systems to prepare for academic essays. His proposal: “Return to pencil and paper”. Other educational centers have restricted their students from downloading the application.

change in rating

ChatGPT, currently a free and open access tool, presents several challenges for education. The first and most obvious refers to the assessment system used to determine whether a student has acquired the expected knowledge and skills.

ChatGPT can not only answer questions that only require getting information (such as getting a list of rivers in Spain); Can also relate and integrate information reaching new conclusions. Or, at least, to reliable conclusions.

No matter how complex a question a student is asked, with the help of ChatGPT they can potentially answer any.

Furthermore, traditional plagiarism detection tools, such as Turnitin, are useless because the answers provided by ChatGPT are new.

form vs content

The credibility of the information provided is another challenge. The answers put together by ChatGPT always seem reliable, but they are not always accurate or verified. Excessive reliance on this tool can lead to errors and unwanted biases.

With the presence of this and other similar tools, the acquisition of skills related to critical thinking becomes even more essential. Compare information, visit original sources, evaluate potential interests associated with a certain piece of information, etc. They are practices that should be part of our intellectual routine.

technological dependence and cognitive impairment

Another challenge to education may be its potential impact on students’ creativity and effort. Who’s going to struggle to answer a question when ChatGPT can answer it quickly and confidently? Who would struggle to find new and creative solutions if a chatbot already provides them?

As some authors have already warned, the risk of increasing technological dependence and reducing cognitive effort are real possibilities.

Other challenges, no less important, relate to the protection of confidentiality or academic integrity when preparing new writing. Thinking about the possibility of including this tool as part of educational practice requires answering these and many other challenges that we have not yet been able to identify.

i go back or forward

Often, the speed at which changes and technological advances occur prevents the sober reflection that allows for the best decisions to be made. Reality often prevails. As noted above, some institutions have decided to revert to the traditional “paper and pencil” exam or oral exam.

Other proposals consider banning ChatGPT meaningless. Its use should be allowed while digital identification tools are being developed, in a kind of “academic AI arms race”. Some initiatives that are already being worked on include watermarking all text generated by this type of technology, or identification programs such as GPT Zero.

A third approach would be to consider the possibilities that ChatGPT offers to promote meaningful learning. Can this tool be used to learn more and better? Could its use encourage the creativity of students rather than stunt it? Can it be used to improve thinking, a type of cognition or by extension the mind?

Yes, it is possible, and the example is an extension of this article. Its preparation has been the result of an ongoing dialogue with ChatGPT, where I have been exploring and eliciting ideas through questions and answers, selecting and improving some, discarding and deleting others.

If you are still not convinced of the possibilities ChatGPT offers, it can be a useful exercise to find out which parts of this article are written by this chatbot and which are not. It may not be the last device, but there will be others. It is up to us whether we want to be a part of the change or try in vain to stop it.

Carlos de Aldama, professor and researcher specializing in the psychology of thought and learning, Complutense University of Madrid

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.

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