April 17, 2023
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
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This week, in continuing to explore the important topic of school connectedness, I’m taking on the hot topic of AI and chatbots in the classroom. And I’m wondering how that pesky presence that writes our students’ papers might actually be able to promote school connectedness.
On the one hand, a tool like ChatGPT can do the work, and even do the thinking, for our students – essentially removing the opportunity for them to engage authentically with an assignment. Having a bot write your paper does not make a student feel more connected to, or engaged in, school.
On the other hand, centering our discussions and remodeling our teaching and learning around this game changing tool (as Kevin Roose recommends in this New York Times article) can make school feel relevant again for our students, and that could actually build relationships and strengthen school connectedness.
Start with Big Questions
Before you get into the mechanics of how these AI platforms work and what they can do, spend time with your students delving into the big questions that humans must wrestle with in the face of this technological advancement.
- What is intelligence?
- What does artificial mean?
- What makes something authentic?
Consider the answers you and your students arrive at alongside those provided by tools like ChatGPT. Here is what I got back when asking the first question: “Intelligence is a complex and multifaceted concept that can be difficult to define precisely. Generally speaking, intelligence refers to the ability to think, reason, and learn in a way that allows an individual to adapt to their environment and solve problems effectively.”
As a next step in this exploration, challenge your students to bring three items to share that represent each of these categories, something intelligent, artificial, and authentic. As a class, study and discuss the artifacts shared. What do they have in common? What makes them stand apart? In addition to sparking a fascinating discussion, these kinds of questions could be the catalyst for a vast array of writing projects, cultural studies on how intelligence is defined in different contexts, vocabulary building, and much more.
Students feel connected both to their learning and to one another when they have the opportunity to discuss things that matter to them. AI matters to all of us. When we discuss, debate, and problem-solve together, we strengthen our connections to one another. And of course, we learn a great deal along the way.
What We’re Curious About
This week we asked ChatGPT what it is curious about. The first answer was a little underwhelming so we added a follow-up question.
ChatGPT, a large language model developed by OpenAI
As an AI language model, I don’t have personal curiosity or emotions like humans do, but I can tell you some of the topics that I am programmed to be knowledgeable about and can generate responses to. Some of the areas I can assist with include science, technology, business, finance, education, history, literature, art, philosophy, and more. I am always eager to learn and update my knowledge to provide the most accurate and helpful responses to users.
Okay, then what are people who use ChatGPT most curious about?
As an AI language model, I don’t have access to specific information on what individual users are most curious about. However, based on the interactions that I have had with users, I can tell you that people tend to be curious about a wide range of topics. Some common themes include:
- Personal development: People often ask for advice on how to improve their skills, build self-confidence, and achieve their goals.
- Science and technology: Many users are interested in learning about the latest developments in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology.
- Health and wellness: People often seek information on topics like nutrition, exercise, mental health, and stress management.
- Relationships: Users frequently ask for guidance on how to navigate romantic, familial, and social relationships.
- Pop culture: Many people are curious about the latest movies, music, TV shows, and celebrity news.
These are just a few examples of the topics that people are curious about when interacting with AI language models like me.
In this New York Times article, Kevin Roose argues that while “OpenAI’s new chatbot is raising fears of cheating on homework … its potential as an educational tool outweighs its risks.”
In this Edutopia article Todd Finley offers ways "teachers can use the artificial intelligence tool to effectively automate some routine tasks." It's worth pondering whether you'd actually want ChatGPT to do these things for you, but the ideas are intriguing.
In this Chalkbeat article Ben Talsma offers a hopeful vision of what's possible if teachers embrace rather than fear ChatGPT's potential. "Banning something just increases the likelihood that students will use it in ways that don’t help them learn."