The artificial intelligence or AI based chatbot ChatGPT has enraged the entire world with its accuracy in text generation. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken into account the increasing use among students and has banned its use in the forthcoming Grade 10 and 12 board exams. Using ChatGPT would amount to using unfair means in the exam, the board officials said.
ChatGPT is a large language model and generates human-like text based on a specific prompt or context. It can do most text generation tasks that involve natural language for communication.
The tool compiles information available online to form an answer to a specific prompt. With its open-source interface, experts have raised questions about its impact on the education industry, especially among school kids who can access the app to get their assignments done. “The app can also hamper students’ creative thinking and research skills,” argue several experts.
However, not all educators believe that ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) threatens students’ creativity and observational skills
AI tools are here to stay
Vishnu Karthik, director of the Heritage Group of Schools, believes that the use of internet tools in school education is not new. “Students have been using online resources to cut corners on homework for years. In response, educators have had to adapt to these challenges and develop assessments that can circumvent the use of such tools. ChatGPT is just an advanced version of these tools that reduces search time. Rather than looking for a limitation on its use, we should guide students to use it in a productive way,” Karthik said.
Heritage Xperiential Learning School, Gurugram, is running a month-long workshop allowing students to make the best use of ChatGPT. The school also encourages its faculty to get their hands on this tool to understand its capabilities.
“After a month we will conduct a feedback survey with students and teachers and based on that students will be guided on how to use it. It is important to familiarize the younger generation with new technologies and to let them explore them. AI tools are here to stay. They will improve and become increasingly important across disciplines. In the long term, schools may therefore need to reassess their teaching mission,” he added.
Alleviating the impact of Covid on student learning
Covid-19 impacted students’ learning and communication skills given the extended school closure of around two years and online classes. The teachers believe this has created a communication gap between them and the students. Many children shy away from contact with the teachers. For such students, ChatGPT helps them learn without interaction.
dr Nehal Sharma, the parent of an 11-year-old boy, shared that his son enjoys learning with this tool and also improves his English writing skills.
“Given the pandemic, my son spent most of his time alone using computers as me and my husband, who is also a doctor, had to leave for Covid duties. This limited his interactions with people and also affected his learning once he entered school. Even if he had doubts about the lesson, he would avoid taking her to the teacher. With ChatGPT, he can now ask for an explanation in plain language. Informed use of this tool can help students, but it cannot be considered a substitute for a teacher,” said Dr. Sharma.
Juhi Dabra, an English teacher at MRG School, also supports Rohini’s idea. “ChatGPT is a double-edged sword. When used wisely, it can help students with research and brainstorming. For students facing trust and communication issues in the post-Covid period, this tool can be of great help. At our school, we encourage students to use this tool in an informed and limited manner,” said Dabra.
Effects on students’ creative thinking skills
While it can be a savior for pandemic-hit kids, the bigger threat teachers believe is the damage it can do to a student’s creative writing skills.
“In the subject of English, essays have been the center of humanistic pedagogy for generations. In this way we teach children to research, think and write. This whole tradition is about to be destroyed from the ground up. With its accuracy and creativity in text generation, students can refer to ChatGPT for an easy way out. Therefore, as teachers, we need to look for better ways to transform our assignments,” said Sanchita, PGT English at Pacific World School.
Several teachers have now identified their students using the tool to do their homework and how, given the accuracy of the language, it could pose a challenge to identify in the future.
“One of my 9th grade students wrote a homework essay that I could tell was definitely not his own doing. When questioned, the student admitted that he used ChatGPT to create an essay. What amused me was the accuracy of the language this tool offered, and on command it can also write an essay from a 12-year-old’s perspective. It is amazing but also alarming if more students in the class would use this tool to complete assignments,” said Doreen Catherine Batra, English teacher at Global Indian International School, Bengaluru.
ChatGPT – a benefit for teachers?
While educators fear the use of ChatGPT for students, many teachers believe ChatGPT has the potential to significantly impact the way instruction is conducted, using its advanced capabilities in the same way computers and the internet have done in the past.
Deepa Sharma, HOD, Computer Science at Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad said that a basic understanding of the subject is crucial to using its skills effectively.
“In a course like computers, where students have to work with data and code, ChatGPT can be particularly beneficial. It allows a reduction in the time spent on tedious tasks like troubleshooting, which can be a source of frustration for students. This allows me as a teacher to focus more on the critical analysis models and reports, leading to a deeper understanding of the topic for the students,” said Sharma.
“As a teacher, this tool is an added asset for us as it can bring any complex topic into the simplest of language. It becomes easier to teach complex topics in a class by citing ChatGPT-generating texts. It is easier for English teachers to create questionnaires and/or summaries for students. However, it is not well-suited for tasks that require logic, expertise, or up-to-date information. Therefore, teachers can easily distinguish between correct information and incorrect information that students may not be able to.” Doreen Catherine Batra from the Global Indian International School in Bengaluru.