- Some of the nation’s largest school districts are restricting San Francisco-based OpenAI’s new ChatGPT tool to school networks and devices.
- Education technology experts are urging schools to train teachers and students on how to use ChatGPT and artificial intelligence instead of banning it outright.
- OpenAI told USA TODAY that it is working to create a way for teachers to catch students using text generators to answer questions on tests or assignments.
Since ChatGPT launched in November, the nation’s largest school districts have banned artificial intelligence chatbots, concerned students will use the quick text generator to cheat or plagiarize.
Teachers and professors are concerned that the technology makes it too easy for students to use it as a shortcut for essays or other writing assignments and exams, and that it generates content in a way that can bypass software that detects when students use information that isn’t theirs. work
Jumping to ban the device may not be the right course of action, however, education technology experts say: because AI will be a part of young people’s future, it must be a part of the classroom now.
“Everybody’s talking about cheating. If you’re worried about that, your assessment probably isn’t good to begin with,” said Richard Culata, CEO of the nonprofit International Society for Technology in Education. “Kids in school today go to work where they’re not all human.”
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What is ChatGPT?
Anyone using the ChatGPT website can ask the chatbot a question on any topic and receive a quick, detailed response in paragraph form. (GPT stands for generative pre-trend transformer.)
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A spokesperson for San Francisco-based software company OpenAI, which owns the tool, said the company “made ChatGPT available as a research preview to learn from real-world use, which we believe is a critical part of developing and deploying capable, secure AI systems.”
On the website, it lists positive features of ChatGPT as its ability to “remember what the user said earlier in the conversation” and “allow the user to provide follow-up corrections” and “how it is trained to reject inappropriate requests”.
The company is upfront about some of the technology’s flaws.
According to OpenAI’s website, chatbots sometimes “generate false information” and “produce(s) harmful instructions or biased content.” It lists a third issue: “Having limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021.”
USA TODAY asked the chatbot this month, “Why are schools banning ChatGPT?”
The chatbot replied, “I’m not aware of any schools that have specifically banned ChatGPT.” “However, it is possible that some schools or educational institutions may have policies prohibiting the use of certain technology in the classroom or during exams, especially if it is considered a potential aid to deception or cheating. In addition, the use of AI models such as ChatGPT, the technology’s potential Raises ethical concerns about misuse, such as impersonation or spreading misinformation.
“Therefore, some schools may restrict or ban the use of such technologies as a precautionary measure.”
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Why are schools banning ChatGPT?
In the recent past, school officials’ concerns about technology have included students tapping sites including Wikipedia and SparkNotes to gather information without doing their own research or reading.
With access to artificial intelligence platforms that help with grammar, writing and more, teachers and children must learn how to work together to prepare for the future, said Kalatta, whose organization trains teachers to use AI in the classroom.
More training is planned in the Los Angeles Unified School District, spokeswoman Shannon Hebert said. LAUSD temporarily blocked access to ChatGPT and the OpenAI website in December “to protect academic dishonesty while a risk/benefit assessment is conducted.”
of New York City The Department of Education this month banned ChatGPT from school-owned devices and networks across the state. The department cited local school teachers’ concerns about student success. Oakland Unified and in California Seattle Public Schools has moved to block ChatGPT for now, in part because it creates human-like responses that can be difficult to detect.
Seattle Public Schools spokesman Tim Robinson said despite the ban, the district is working to allow teachers to use it as a lesson. The district also blocks several other AI generators on school tools, including Rytr, ArticleForge and WriteSonic, he said.
In Oakland, the district wants to use artificial intelligence in schools, spokesman John Sasaki said, but only until teachers and educators are “trained about the ethical use of AI to avoid an overall negative impact on student learning.”
Other large school systems, including Miami-Dade and Houston, have not banned ChatGPT — yet.
“The district is looking into it,” said Miami-Dade district spokeswoman Jacqueline Calzadilla Diaz. “At this point, the decision has not been made yet.”
Culatta said many of the districts he works with are also not blocking the platforms.
How are colleges and universities handling ChatGPT?
A recent survey of 1,000 college students conducted by the online magazine Intelligent shows that nearly 60% of students used a chatbot on more than half of all their assignments and 30% of them used ChatGPT on written assignments.
While some universities are concerned about how ChatGPT affects student work and grades, the text generator has passed graduate-level tests at the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, CNN reported.
But unlike K-12 schools, restrictions are far and few between. Universities including Princeton are refusing to ban chatbots, instead advising professors to set their own policies. And NYU professors are advising students not to use ChatGPT, reported Vice.
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What should schools consider when it comes to ChatGPT?
Blocking a particular platform may be far less effective than schools think.
“If they don’t use it in their class, they can use it at home and they can use it on their personal devices,” Adam Fial said. Education technology specialist and director of professional education and leadership from All4Ed, a national nonprofit that advocates for traditionally underserved students.
OpenAI’s platform is the first of its kind to successfully generate paragraphs in response to user questions, but there are others out there. On TikTok, students are sharing how similar AI-based tools made by other companies help with school work.
“Are we going to have a conversation about how to unblock it? Or is it going to be: if we’re scared, block it and move on to something else?” Fyal said.
Instead, schools can use ChatGPT to teach kids how to improve their writing, for example, he said.
Culatta’s organization recommends that schools create rules about using ChatGPT.
However, schools should already be preparing teachers before AI arrives, he said. Other types of AI now used in the classroom include math tutoring assistant Thinkster Math, virtual teaching assistant Jill Watson, and transcription service Nuance.
“We’ve been seeing this trend for years,” Kulata said. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.”
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What does ChatGPT creator OpenAI say?
An OpenAI spokesperson said the company wants to help schools with their concerns and that users should be upfront about using their AI-generated text. The company is working on a system for teachers to check whether students have cheated or plagiarized using ChatGPT, the spokesperson said.
“We don’t want ChatGPT to be used for misleading purposes in schools or elsewhere,” the spokesperson said in an email, “so we are already developing mitigations to help identify text generated by that system.”
Contact Kayla Jimenez at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @kaylajjimenez.