For the first time, Chat GPT has democratised AI. It is now accessible to everyone at your fingertips and no cost. And its developments are moving at breakneck speeds!
Does ChatGPT herald the end of critical thinking that exacerbates lazy academic habits, or is it a powerful tool that will revolutionise our classrooms and democratise educational access? How does it impact different stakeholders - teachers, students, parents, policymakers, exam boards etc?
In our parenting webinar, we asked Sandra Davie, Senior Writer from The Straits Times, and Richard Whitrock, a Teacher from EtonHouse International School Orchard to explore the ChatGPT in education. Bipasha Minocha, Group CMO of EtonHouse International Education Group, moderated this webinar.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was created by Open AI, a company based in the US. Open AI uses a technique called natural language processing to understand and respond to tech space conversations. It analyses the words and phrases user inputs and then uses algorithms to generate relevant and coherent responses.
ChatGPT can understand your questions and respond to them on a broader range of topics as it has access to books, articles, websites and a lot of data. So it can have much more complex conversations with the person using it. And that’s the reason people are suddenly impressed with what AI can achieve.
How has ChatGPT changed teaching and learning in the classroom?
Educators must be more aware of how easy it is to cheat with AI tools. We have to adjust some of our assignments to ensure the students are developing the skills they need to develop. So there’s an increased emphasis on handwritten essays done in front of the teacher during class time. Or oral examinations to get students to defend their work and demonstrate that they’ve done the research and know what they’re talking about.
Because it is generative, it can’t use judgment regarding what is an answer or what is truth and what is false. Hence, you might get inaccurate information or information that is outdated. Students are encountering this tool and want to use it, but we need to teach them to develop the skills to use it effectively.
Ultimately, ChatGPT relies on your ability to ask something specific, and you are responsible for checking that information to ensure accuracy.
Should ChatGPT be available to children of specific age groups? Is the use of AI tools linked to the competency and age appropriateness of it's users?
As an educator and a parent, I don’t think ChatGPT is appropriate for youth unsupervised below Year 10. There’s a significant amount of danger involved with ChatGPT because it isn’t another person on the other end of the line.
Children don’t have the capability to understand healthy or unhealthy interactions, nor have they honed the skills to ensure they’re getting the correct information they need. They don’t have the knowledge base to determine what information is accurate, which requires a lot of our interaction as parents and adults to ensure that we’re protecting them and giving them the skills to know what the technology is suitable for and what it is not.
Is ChatGPT the ultimate cheating weapon? How do we use ChatGPT for a positive learning experience?
We don’t want students to think that they can pass work off as their own that wasn’t theirs. It is academic dishonesty, but we also can’t expect them to know what that looks like and how it functions without instruction.
So they need a guide to show them how to use it effectively. As parents or teachers, one of the things that we can do is, we can understand the AI tool and how we can support our child in accessing it. For example, students motivated to do well in Mathematics can generate more practice questions using ChatGPT. Or in my IB History classes, students can use it to get essay prompts.
Remember, the machine isn’t thinking; it’s doing statistical calculations and generating what it thinks is the most likely best response, word by word. And putting those together to make sense does not necessarily mean the information is true or accurate. So monitored use becomes crucial to make it a positive learning experience rather than one frankly full of danger.
What is the Singapore MOE stance, and how are our parents and academics in Singapore reacting to this technology?
In the case of Singapore, they will allow the use of ChatGPT but under supervision and guidance by teachers. And it’s because AI is going to become quite pervasive. Over time, we will have to learn how to use them as tools to enhance whatever we are doing right in various aspects. We will have to adjust, adapt, pivot, and think differently about things. But you know AI is not going anywhere.
We have to manage it because technology will only get better, and if we don’t use it to our advantage, we'll lose out. We can’t stop the advancement of technologies such as AI.
How are the exam boards responding to students using ChatGPT? Are there any guidelines from the IB?
A lot of the universities started to change the exam questions, so it is not something that you can type into ChatGPT and get a response. Or they split the same question into different parts, and it becomes very specific and a lot more complex.
Numerous universities have also returned to having an oral presentation when students submit an essay. During the oral presentation, you have to show that you did your research to defend your point of view.
For IB, they allow the use of ChatGPT, but students have to quote it like any other source. It will not be considered a student's work if the content by ChatGPT makes up a large portion of the work they are submitting.
But this is one of those instances where technology has progressed faster than our ability to legislate or prepare for it. So the college board and the IB program have been making this up as they go along, which is not necessarily negative. You have to adapt to the world as it changes.
How will it change how teachers teach?
One of the questions is, do teachers need to teach content anymore, or should we be cutting down on it? Because we have the content available from a variety of different sources. But it is like using a calculator for math. When the calculator comes on, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn the basic concepts in maths, you still need the fundamental knowledge. We should look at how we can use ChatGPT to educate our young people better.
It’s no longer about content. It’s about knowing how to apply the content. The information you can get from all these various tools, and at the end of the day, you need teachers who can teach you how to apply that.
View the webinar recording to listen to our speakers addressing the top concerns on ChatGPT.