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.