The arrival of CHATGPT and technologies like it was inevitable and their continued sophistication is certain.
There are many such services around but this one seems to have lit a fire in people’s imaginations.
To pretend technologies such as CHATGPT will be a passing phase is unrealistic. They are becoming embedded in our society and the line between technological and human generated output will increasingly become blurred.
They will challenge the way we teach students and encourage us to focus on the process of writing rather than on the outcome. CHATGPT delivers the outcome not the creative process.
In the face of technologies like CHATGPT questions will arise such as, how do we validate that essays are written by a real live student and not artificial intelligence? This is a reasonable concern, given the quality of CHATGPT’S output.
One suggestion I have heard is to insist that students write in pen and paper. Not only is this unrealistic, it is failing to acknowledge that education is preparing students for the ‘real’ world. The ‘real’ world is no longer a pen and paper world. It has not been for many years.
The reality is that educators may need to reconsider the premise underlying education especially when it comes to writing. The key lies in how well students are engaged with education. Why would they want to cheat if they enjoy the experience of learning?
CHATGPT has done Stylefit a real favour because students will need to think about concepts and ideas rather than regurgitating unquestioned facts when they use Stylefit. Creative writing, whether it is creative non-fiction or fiction, will take on new significance in the classroom.
Feedback will guide students and encourage them to revise and re-work their writing. This process validates that the work is that of the students and not of artificial intelligence.
In previous centuries the purpose of education was to provide workers for the industrial age. They had to be trained to complete repetitive tasks in factories or work in clerical roles. Over the years the breadth of jobs has greatly broadened.
However, what is of greater significance is that the skills employers are looking for now have dramatically changed.
This means there must be a fundamental shift in what we teach students and how we teach them.
The dictionary definition of teach is to instruct someone. In other words, the teacher is the active deliverer of information, and the student passively receives it.
In today’s world students can find any information they need on the Internet.
What they actually need are the skills to know what questions to ask, where to find the information and who to ask for it. This approach actively engages the student and the teacher in a collaborative learning process.
However, it is too much to ask a teacher to engage so intensely with every student in the 30-student classroom. This is where interactive technology can be invaluable. The teacher sets the project and the majority of students get on with formulating their narrative, allowing the teacher to work with any students who are struggling.
As in the case of Stylefit, interactive technology engages the student with relevant feedback without giving them the answers or solutions. In this way the learning process continues.
We need students who are curious, unafraid to express themselves and above all we need them to be creative. If they are creatively engaged, they will learn. CHATGPT is a tool that searches the Internet and collates pre-existing information into a format determined by the user. If key information does not exist, it will not be included in the output.
How to think independently is not what technologies like CHATGPT deliver. Technologies that engage students in the process of learning will encourage independent, creative thinking and that requires interactivity.
CHATGPT is a great thing, but it continues to be the engine and not the driver.