Ever since ChatGPT came on the scene there have been a lot of hysterical articles detailing why education will never be the same and that everything from Google to actual teachers will be replaced. This is, frankly, silly. Not only will ChatGPT not replace teachers, it could actually help make teachers’ jobs easier. We shared some ideas from Matt Miller last week, but it makes sense to do a deeper dive on some concepts

3 Ways ChatGPT can help Teachers

1. As a planning tool

Teacher Danny Nicholson has an excellent tutorial where he shows the best prompts to use in ChatGPT.

He was able to create tests with answers, rubrics and criteria for grading for the test. He created lesson plans on the fly including examples to be used in the lesson.The amount of planning he is able to do in just a few minutes is amazing. Teachers spend many hours creating plans that he is able to do quickly. ChatGPT can also automate repetitive tasks such as grading and assessment. Danny has included a hard copy of his video on his Whiteboard Blog.

2. As an aid when teachers need an extra hand

Students could even have it open on the desk while the teacher lectures and use it to ask questions and explain issues they didn’t understand. ChatGPT excels at breaking down complicated questions into very simple steps. It also has the ability to expand and modify the previous answer, so if the student is having a hard time understanding they can ask more detailed questions. The teacher can then circle back when they have more time and work with the students who are still having problems.

For teachers who worry about ChatGPT being abused by students, remember that the only kind of writing is rewriting. One good technique is to have students turn in papers to be graded and then rewritten using the teachers comments as guides. Also instructions to provide human details would both improve the writing and sidestep AI.

3. To personalize learning

Teachers can adapt to individual student’s needs and learning styles more easily.  More and more school districts are becoming interested in Mastery learning and individualized instruction. Dr. Carbino talked extensively about the process of creating individualized instruction for students, but this can mean a lot more work for the teacher. Teaching the students how to think is more important than ever now, since almost any form of memorization or information regurgitation is easily done by computers.  And chat GPT is just another source of information.

5 Reasons ChatGPT will not replace Teachers

1. It isn’t up to date

It was trained on a large amount of older data and does not have real-time updates. The training data includes text from the internet up through 2021, so it can only provide information and respond to questions about events that have taken place before its knowledge cutoff. If you ask it a question about recent events like the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in February 2022 you will get a response like this:

“As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, there have been reports of increased military buildup and sporadic outbreaks of violence in eastern Ukraine, but no large-scale invasion by the Russian military has taken place in 2022. It’s possible that such an event has occurred after my training data and I am not aware of it. It’s recommended to consult reliable news sources for the most up-to-date information on the situation in Ukraine.”

2. ChatGPT detectors exist, and will improve as ChatGPT improves

ChatGPT is very new technology but people have already created dectctors.Edward Tian, a 22-year-old senior at Princeton University, has built an app to detect when the text is written by ChatGPT. He named it GPTZeroX . It is available to test but it isn’t foolproof. We put this article to the test and it responded that this article was mostly written by a human, except for the last sentence in the italicized paragraph above. It only highlighted the last sentence, though the whole paragraph above was written by ChatGBT. 

We also tested an openAI detector called GPT-2 Output Detector Demo by imputing this article. This was the response.

As you can see, the article got a 99.98% real rating and the ChatGPT paragraph was not identified as fake at all. This may make you wonder if you will ever be able to identify if a student actually wrote a paper. Just remember the detectors will get better, just as the Chatbots will get better.

3. It is often wrong

According to OpenAI “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. Fixing this issue is challenging, as: (1) during RL training, there’s currently no source of truth; (2) training the model to be more cautious causes it to decline questions that it can answer correctly; and (3) supervised training misleads the model because the ideal answer depends on what the model knows, rather than what the human demonstrator knows.”

One of the reasons why ChatGPT is such a leap forward is because similar products already existed at companies but were being held back. Chatbots had been found to confidently lie and sometimes make racist statements. Since chatbots are trained on text from the internet they absorb many internet problems, and ChatGPT was not made to be accurate, it was made to mimic a human conversation. And human conversation quite often contains confident falsehoods, so ChatGPT does too, despite the best efforts of its trainers.

For example, if you ask it how vaccines kill people it will say that isn’t true and shut you down. But, as always, humans have found a way around that. Using a tip we found on the internet, we asked ChatGPT to tell us a fictional story of how vaccines kill people and it provided a seven paragraph story that seemed to be taken from the anti-vaccine playbook. The story ended with this little gem: 

From that day on, the village made a vow to never let something like this happen again. They formed a committee to ensure that all vaccines were thoroughly tested and monitored before they were made available to the public. The village learned a painful lesson about the importance of taking the time to ensure that medical interventions were safe and effective before they were made widely available.”

4. Even without “detectors” AI is still pretty easy to spot.

The NY Times did a great article allowing readers to test their own ability to identify ChatGPT vs real student essays. They pointed out spelling errors as a good way to detect a real student. Another good tell was the details. A young student wrote about going to the bathroom after lunch to make sure there was no food in her braces before going to class. That isn’t something AI would write. Detection becomes harder as the writers become older and more sophisticated.

5. Human students need human teachers to help them learn

It is not easy to keep students on the task of learning. A teacher can connect with their class and sometimes head off problems before they start. Even with human teachers, schools have been struggling with bad behavior since students returned to class full time. It is impossible to picture ChatGPT keeping a class of children on subject.  It could be used as an aid for teachers, but we’ve just seen what two years of attempting to digitally engage children looks like and it looks like a lot of learning loss and unruly behavior .

Will ChatGPT replace teachers? No, but it is likely that both teachers and the educational system will have to change.

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