"If we find ways to harness the power of technology together, our learners will excel and be able to work, write, and think beyond what they are capable of right now." - Andreina Bloom Parisi-Amon, Ph.D
Changing technology is a constant in our lives - new tools are always being developed to automate tasks and make our lives easier. Yet, every time there is a new tool, we need to take pause, evaluate what it means, and think about how it might change the way we operate. It is easy to have an immediate gut reaction to a new piece of technology because it makes us rethink the truths we hold. This has been true with technology from the dawn of time, from the wheel to MOOCs; there is always someone who thinks innovation to be THE thing to solve everything and others who are sure it will be THE thing to ruin everything. The reality is usually in the middle and primarily dependent on how it’s used. The new AI tool ChatGPT is no different.
What is ChatGPT?
If you aren’t familiar with ChatGPT, it is a chatbot built to mimic a human conversationalist - with a simple prompt, it can generate long responses that collate information and produce a written output - an essay, a poem, an email, a snippet of code, or another form of written text. ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, people from all industries and stages of life are trying it out, seeing how it can help them, and worrying about how it might hurt them. Educators are asking questions about how ChatGPT will impact academic honesty and if it should be considered cheating to use ChatGPT to complete essays and assignments. Rightfully so, educators are worried about how this will impact their teaching and their student's learning - these are important questions to consider.
How has technology impacted teaching and learning in the past?
As a former educator and before that, student, I am reflecting on how technology has impacted my learning and teaching throughout the years. One whose memory is so vivid for me is when Google Search was newly released Remembering pieces of information no longer held the same weight as before. First came the lockdown - no technology was permissible anywhere near an exam. Then, as Google became ubiquitous in our lives (lmgtfy, anyone?), we reconsidered how to teach and assess with this tool as a given. Gone are the days we had to ensure learners would not find themselves stuck in the wild, unable to remember Plank’s constant, and instead can focus on confirming they know when and how to use it properly. Educators now have open-book and open internet exams where learners can access all the resources they need, and those are notoriously harder because you can’t rely on memorization for a good grade. However, new skills were to be taught, such as how to evaluate sources and deem search results trustworthy - a skill critical beyond just search engines. Search changed the way we teach and learn and, for those who thoughtfully embraced it, empowered them to go beyond the confines of what they previously knew and use their memory, time, and energy more effectively.
So what about ChatGPT?
So when it comes to ChatGPT, I look forward to how it might help us evolve. Our role as educators again is evolving to help learners recognize how and when it makes sense to use such a tool to make them more efficient, and know enough to be able to effectively input their request into chatGPT and understand the impact that how they phrase the question or task can hugely impact what they get out (isn’t that true in so much of life!?), analyze what comes out of chatGPT to see how much it actually meets their need, how they can improve it, etc.
I’m eager to see the development of, and results from, new assignments like the following:
- Edit outputs from ChatGPT: Imagine your learners can be challenged with editing output from ChatGPT to take it to the next level. They can start with a ChatGPT output and see how to edit it to make it more impactful, concise, or relevant. Those who struggle with starting to get their thoughts on paper will now have the opportunity to thrive in a new way.
- Analyze different prompts from ChatGPT: Help learners build their analytical brains as they explore how a different prompt can yield a different result from ChatGPT. Equip learners with the skills to make the most of the technology that they have at their fingertips.
- Write about current events: ChatGPT is only as accurate as the information it is based on, and ChatGPT is not always updated with the most current information. You can have learners write about and analyze current events in a way that no AI tool can do. They can still get guidance and support from ChatGPT, but they will have to do their own analysis and writing.
Technology is ever-evolving, and so are all of us. We do not need to have all the answers right now about how ChatGPT and other AI tools will impact learning, we do not have to figure it out all at once, but instead, this is a collective process, an evolution that we are all a part of together. If we find ways to harness the power of technology together, our learners will excel and be able to work, write, and think beyond what they are capable of right now.
If you are interested in learning about how to harness the power of Engageli to empower your learners, visit engageli.com/getting-started.