ChatGPT, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, has caught the attention of US K-12 schools — for the wrong reasons.
One representative from Seattle Public Schools shared that the district banned ChatGPT from all school devices.
“Like all school districts, Seattle Public Schools do not allow cheating and requires original thought and work from students,” the representative told Geekwire.
Los Angeles Unified School District was one of the first districts to block the site on Dec. 12, 2023 — a move to “protect academic honesty,” says a spokesperson to the Washington Post.
It’s not surprising, considering ChatGPT can write college essays, translate and produce working computer code.
For example, a Midwestern high school senior told the Washington Post that he used the chatbot for two homework assignments: a computer science quiz and a coding assignment.
A Twitter user even used the chatbot to take an SAT exam.
If you have no idea of what you just read, let us break down how this AI chatbot works:
Try talking with ChatGPT, our new AI system which is optimized for dialogue. Your feedback will help us improve it. https://t.co/sHDm57g3Kr
— OpenAI (@OpenAI) November 30, 2022
How does ChatGPT works?
What makes this chatbot unique is its ability to learn quickly.
It is “fed” hundreds of billions of words in the form of books, conversations and web articles based on a model known as a large language model.
ChatGPT’s ability to produce entire sentences comes from its “learnings” of the model.
To use this chatbot, follow these four simple steps:
- Click here to go to their website
- Create a free account
- Type in a question
- Wait for a response
Do note that the servers might be down when there is a huge amount of users on the website.
Why banning ChatGPT in US K-12 schools isn’t the way to go
While a school can block the AI chatbot tool on its network and school-owned devices, students still have phones, laptops, and other ways to access ChatGPT outside of class.
One author from the New York Times tried to ask ChatGPT how students — who intend to use the tool — might evade a schoolwide ban.
The chatbot gave five different answers, including using a virtual private network to disguise the student’s web traffic.
Now you might wonder: “What about GPTZero?”
This tool, built by a Princeton student, claims to be able to detect AI-generated writing.
Still, these tools aren’t reliable. Students can get away by changing a few words or using another AI programme to paraphrase specific sentences.
How ChatGPT can help teachers at US K-12 schools
While ChatGPT isn’t perfect, one high school English teacher in Oregon has found a way to use this AI chatbot in her classes.
She “assigned students in one of her classes to use ChatGPT to create outlines for their essays comparing and contrasting two 19th-century short stories (“The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman”) that touch on themes of gender and mental health,” says Kevin Roose, a technology columnist at New York Times.
Once the outline is generated, her students will put their laptops aside and write their essays.
“They have to understand, ‘I need this to produce an outline about X, Y and Z,’ and they have to think very carefully about it,” Ms. Shields tells the New York Times.
“And if they don’t get the result that they want, they can always revise it.”
Jon Gold, an eighth-grade history teacher at Moses Brown School, a K-12 Quaker school in Providence, Rhode Island, shares with Roose that he has experimented with using ChatGPT to generate quizzes.
Roose also suggests some useful prompts teachers can use:
- “Explain Newton’s laws of motion to a visual-spatial learner”: This helps teachers write personalised lesson plans for each student according to their learning needs.
- “Write a script for a ‘Friends’ episode that takes place at the Constitutional Convention”: This is a fun way for teachers to generate ideas for classroom activities.
- “Convince me that animal testing should be allowed”: If teachers need a debate sparring partner, they have ChatGPT to fill that role.