By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe
You’ve probably read the headlines about ChatGPT both in mainstream and education media. From the January 12, 2023, New York Times: “Don’t Ban ChatGPT in Schools. Teach With It.” or Education Week on January 4, 2023: “New York City Blocks ChatGPT at Schools. Should Other Districts Follow?”
Launched in November 2022, ChatGPT, its possibilities and pitfalls, are being debated seemingly everywhere in just the first two weeks of the new year. But do you know what it is, what it does, and what its potential is for K-12 edtech?
ChatGPT is a powerful language model that has the potential to revolutionize K-12 education. One of the main benefits of using ChatGPT in education is its ability to understand and respond to natural language input. This means that students can ask questions and receive answers in a way that mimics a conversation with a teacher or tutor. Additionally, ChatGPT has the ability to generate text, which can be used to create engaging and interactive learning materials.
On the other hand, there are also some potential drawbacks to using ChatGPT in K-12 education. One concern is that students may become too reliant on the model and may not develop the critical thinking skills necessary for problem-solving. Additionally, ChatGPT is not able to provide the personalization and feedback that a human teacher can provide.
Another limitation of ChatGPT is that it is not able to fully understand the context and nuances of the conversation and may provide wrong answers or information. Furthermore, there is a risk that students may not be able to identify credible sources of information and could be misled by the information provided by the model.
Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to be a valuable tool in K-12 education, but it should be used in conjunction with human teachers and other resources to provide a well-rounded education for students.
I did not write the four paragraphs in italics. I gave the AI tool the simple command, “Write a few paragraphs about ChatGPT’s potential and downside for K-12 education,” and that is what it produced.
Pretty impressive, huh? (And kind of frightening for someone who makes part of their living writing).
ChatGPT may have the potential to revolutionize K-12 education—it told us so itself. But, as always with new and emerging technologies, the onus will be on the edtech market and creative educators to think carefully about the best ways to use it to improve learning opportunities for all students.
Some have said that teachers should treat ChatGPT like a calculator in the classroom—as a teaching tool rather than an intrusion. Others have suggested that teachers could use the chatbot to create lesson plans or examples of essays or other writing assignments to share with students. The New York Times article cites an example of a teacher who has her students use ChatGPT to create outlines for their essays and then put their laptops away and write longhand.
It’s happened before. Think back decades. 16mm film wasn’t invented for schools, but for some of us of a certain generation it was a core part of our school experience. Computers weren’t invented for schools, but the education community quickly saw their potential and now who can imagine a classroom without them? More recently, robotics has been integrated into education to support assistive learning and STEM education. VR supports learning exploration in both K-12 and higher ed and 3D printers are used in everything from history to chemistry classes.
It will be exciting to see how teachers and edtech companies harness the potential of ChatGPT over the months and years to come. I predict that by ISTE 2023 in June we will already start to see some of those applications—maybe even by SXSWedu in March?
Want to play with it? Go here and ask it to write your write your next blog post: https://openai.com/.
Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications
Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.