ChatGPT has been on everyone’s lips—or rather fingertips—for a while now. The sophisticated technology is an AI language model that can answer prompts and questions from humans with an impressive level of natural fluency. The bot is so popular that to date, it receives more than 10 million queries per day.
But ChatGPT isn’t just reserved for tech companies and AI enthusiasts, it’s quickly been integrated into everyday spaces, including schools. And while concerns have been raised about the ethics of artificial intelligence in education, there’s no denying that ChatGPT can be a powerful, practical tool for teachers. Here’s how ChatGPT can help teachers and their lesson plans, and ultimately the next generation of students.
ChatGPT and Education
ChatGPT launched in late 2022 and allows users to have human-sounding conversations with a chatbot; it can also support tasks like writing emails, essays, and code. Shortly after it went live, some school districts chose to ban the software due to worries that it could assist students in cheating. However, in recent months, conversations have taken place about how ChatGPT can benefit teachers and classrooms.
Duolingo and Quizlet—edtech companies that are used by more than half of students in the United States—have already integrated ChatGPT into their apps. Meanwhile, one survey found that more than half of teachers in the States have used ChatGPT, and 10% say they use it every day.
Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in Classrooms
AI can be thought of as the modern teaching assistant in schools—it supports educators, helps develop curriculums, and offers personalized feedback to students. Not only is it like a second pair of hands for teachers, it’s powering more optimized, at-scale teaching strategies.
For example, some AI solutions are driving more in-depth feedback for students by focusing on specific areas of improvement, and automatically suggesting steps to advance. AI can also grade assessments, and recognize patterns in students’ performance, as well as produce reports about trends and historical data.
Additionally, Chatbots—which are typically powered by AI—are having a profound effect on how students learn. Chatbots can deliver tailored guidance to individuals and reduce the gap between students and teachers. Because most chatbots are available around the clock, students don’t have to wait for a response from teachers, they can pose a question and receive an answer about a task at any moment: in the remote setting, that results in truly on-demand learning.
A word of caution though. ChatGPT and other AI services are not flawless. ChatGPT is not up to date on factual information beyond 2021 and there are plenty of stories of the AI feeding its users incorrect facts. So as teachers, it will be important to advise students to highlight or site statistics they receive from AI.
ChatGPT and Lesson Planning
Teachers spend approximately 50% of their time on lesson planning, and existing AI tech could free up as much as 20-40% of teachers’ time to focus specifically on student success rather than planning or searching for materials. With ChatGPT, teachers can streamline their planning, as well as tap into ways to curate more creative, engaging lessons.
For one, ChatGPT can inspire teachers who struggle with creating an activity from scratch. Rather than feel overwhelmed by a blank page, teachers can use ChatGPT to generate a story or text that they can devise a more specific direction from. For example, a teacher could use ChatGPT to summarize the code of ethics in engineering, they could then ask students to find real-world cases of when these ethics have been applied and to consider what challenges the ethics face in the changing tech world.
Alternatively, teachers could use ChatGPT in real time with students as a way to provide more context or feedback for a previous assignment. Teachers enter a prompt that relates to the activity, then encourage students to ask further questions based on the responses. The idea is to let students follow their own line of thought, while also being able to identify broader areas of thought they hadn’t considered or alternative answers that they may have missed.
Likewise, ChatGPT can produce interactive content like quizzes to appeal to a wider range of students. If teachers fed the bot an article about robotics in medicine, the tech could then create a multiple-choice quiz to test students’ understanding of the content.
Another fun application of ChatGPT is to line up two essays side by side and ask students to identify which one has been produced by AI. The task could involve looking at vocabulary, semantics, and what kinds of resources have been quoted. Students then have to make a final decision and explain why they have reached that conclusion. This process is important for learners to really comprehend the nuances of AI, as well as to understand why some scenarios will always require human input over technology.
A good spin-off activity is to get students to come up with their own ethical guidelines for ChatGPT relative to the subject they’re concentrating on. For example, in STEAM fields, what kind of STEAM jobs could benefit from ChatGPT? When would ChatGPT pose moral issues in STEAM? Could ChatGPT support greater diversity and equality in STEAM?
Like many new technologies, there remains an air of fear around ChatGPT, especially in education where people assume it will be used for unfair advantages. But moving forward, it’s worthwhile to see the many perks of ChatGPT in the classroom and how it can evolve learning for teachers and students. Particularly in STEAM, which prides itself on being at the forefront of innovation in the world, ChatGPT can be another tool that nurtures both the engineers and educators of tomorrow.
Curious to discover the even bigger potential of AI? Take a look at Sphero’s robots for schools.