AI and ChatGPT: the Future of Education?

I was initially introduced to Chat GPT by my brother Dr. Matthew Barrett in early December. He sent me an email with screenshots of his prompts and the corresponding responses. He provided a cursory explanation of how it worked, but I was most intrigued by the speed and general accuracy of results. Naturally, with my curiosity peeked, I gave it a whirl. I married my love of Seinfeld and Shakespeare and asked the generator to produce, “an episode of Seinfeld but Shakespearean”. While a fairly rudimentary prompt, the result yielded an episode entitled “The Taming of the Shrewd” in which the characters speak Early Modern English and Kramer declares his new found hobby of Shakespearean acting, but the premise follows the story arc of Taming of the Shrew (not perfectly, but pretty well). I was impressed with the quick response and the layers of meta humour that were embedded.

In the weeks since my exploration, news outlets and education forums have been abuzz with talk of the benefits and the drawbacks of AI in educational spheres. Interestingly, as I write this post, my phone notified me of a Globe and Mail op-ed discussing ChatGPT’s capabilities while evaluating its limitations. Regardless of where people stand on the debate, there is little evidence suggesting AI driven technology will go away. In fact, societally, we have to find ways to embrace it for good.

For as much as educators want to believe they are forward-thinking classroom leaders, it is very easy to fall back on tried and true pedagogical practices. While we have every intention of producing engaging lessons that embed technology, the reality is, many find it daunting or are skeptical of its benefit. In recent weeks, the paradigm shifting effect of ChatGPT has left many educators feeling even more wary of technology with many suggesting that the comprehensive AI platform will completely undermine the authenticity of student work. A recent CNN article explained how ChatGPT managed to pass law and business school exams. The initial response, rightfully so, is condemnation. However, upon further consideration, is it as problematic as appears?

I believe that the AI technology driving ChatGPT will only strengthen and will become more intuitive as it becomes more widely adopted. It is understandable that teachers will raise an eyebrow when students can seemingly produce unauthentic work so quickly and easily. However, as discussed in class this week, early adopters are incorporating AI technology into the classroom and are using it to reverse engineer argumentative essays. AI is a powerful tool, akin to a calculator or a translator. Teachers must not resist AI because students have an opportunity to explore in an ethical and honest way. The results yielded from ChatGPT are only as good as the prompts and questions offered by the user. The ensuing results are not flawless and do not replace the insight of human intuition and emotion. However, the results are a starting point for discussion and debate, and provide students a stronger depth of knowledge in subject areas and argumentative competencies.



Introducing Myself

Hi everyone, and welcome to my blog for EC&I 830. My name is Jeff Barrett, I employed by Living Sky School Division, and I am the principal of Cut Knife Community School. This is my third course in the Teaching, Learning, and Leading program through the University of Regina. I serve as an executive member for the Battle West Athletic Association, coach volleyball, basketball, badminton, and track, and officiate.

I consider myself comfortable with technology and have adopted it in my practice since I entered the profession in 2013. I completed my Bachelor of Education at Ontario Tech University. The focus of my B.Ed centred on emerging trends in educational technology, how to best apply technology to pedagogical practice, and how to utilize technology to reimagine educational institutions. While I found technology in the classroom an interesting topic, it was not until the pandemic when I used this time to explore the capacity for technology in the classroom. However, advancements in assistive technology, the universal reliance upon social media, and AI technology the landscape of EdTech has complicated the educational environment. Whereas, Google Classroom and its suite of collaborative tools has made it easier to engage students and close learning gaps, the aforementioned technology also presents issues around equity, privacy, and authenticity. A recent New York Times article outlines the steps that some universities in the United States have taken to combat the ease of which students can create essays and work.

As a 21st century learning practitioner, I strive to engage students and staff in technology trends. As a school leader, I find collaborative tools like shared folders, document templates, and Teams the most accessible tools that allow for idea generation and problem solving. I use social media, but not to the extend that I would necessarily like. I am amazed at the content creators in education like John Spencer who utilize social media and virtual spaces to engage students, parents, and staff.

I look forward as we use our blog spaces and class meetings to enrichen our collective understanding of issues related to educational technology.



Continuing my Journey

I’d like to start by thanking you for taking the time to visit my blog. #eci830 is my third graduate level course and second in digital and online learning spaces. I am excited to continue this journey by exploring the contemporary issues that enhance (and hinder) student learning and engagement as we navigate new technologies in the 21st century. I will be posting weekly as I reflect on my learning and hope to engage with colleagues through insightful discourse.