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Will ChatGPT up end education?

A colleague, Steve Kahl, also a teaching professor, sent me an article on ChatGPT, published just a few months ago in November, (link below), which prompted me to think more about the “Rights and Responsibilities Agreement” my co-instructor, Rachelle Lyons, facilitated with our students in the first class of the spring ’23 semester.

The article is the first I have heard of ChatGPT. The claims are this new artificial intelligence tool will change the way students pursue learning. Anyone can interact with ChatGPT by typing in questions which the program addresses, sounds like Siri, our private digital assistant, but ChatGPT can supposedly write “flawless looking” essays. There are concerns however, as some material has proven to be factually incorrect. The analogy for ChatGPT is it is “like free ghostwriting,” for others, it is like having a private tutor.

All kinds of questions are raised for me about ChatGPT, including how is it different from Google or Wikipedia? How will this technology impact my teaching and learning and that of my students?

Debarka Sengupta, head of the Infosys Centre for Artificial Intelligence at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, reminds us that plagiarism has always existed, but the author of the article, Stock, is hopeful, reminding us that students’ motivation to learn should not be underestimated.

Another view expressed by Bernadette Mathew, an experimental biologist, one of Sengupta’s students, claims the tool empowers her to work independently. She uses the tool to help her code, freeing her to focus on her research.

Dorris Wessels, based at Kiel University of Applied Sciences ChatGPT, believes ChatGPT can help students get past writing blocks by generating opening lines of essays.

In Lyon’s and my Foundations in Environmental Policy class, we want students to feel some ownership in the course and recognize student engagement, meaning contributions to discussions is critical to their success and that of all members of the class. Not surprising when asked to help generate a Rights and Responsibilities agreement as one of our first class exercises, one of the first items generated by students was the “right to learn” and also the “right to make mistakes.” In our course, students mostly work in teams and give presentations to peers to explain their ideas and written products. So they will need to understand any material generated by ChatGPT.

As a faculty member, I feel I should acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of the tool since I don’t believe I can stop students from using ChatGPT. My co-instructor and I can emphasize that students need to examine and analyze any content offered and be able to orally defend any product they produce with the tool’s assistance. Maybe we need to ask students to write annotations about how they edit and improve the text generated by ChatGPT. Afterall, as the article relates, like with all AI, the system is only as good as the material input into the system, “artificial intelligence is not all-intelligent.”

I feel I should stay on top of this kind of technology if I am going to continue to teach and I was naturally curious and wanted to put the tool to the test. Unfortunately, when I went to the site, I found a message that ChatGPT was “at capacity,” The site is engaging, even when you can’t try it out, if you decide to wait, you are prompted to write something clever about your notions of ChatPGT.

I was foiled in my attempt to have ChatGPT assist me with my upcoming presentation for my environmental policy course on The Antiquities Act, so I could evaluate and discuss with my students’ its potential and pitfalls. In the meantime, while I wait for ChatGPT to email me saying there is finally space to operate on the site, I will have to work on my presentation without the use of this AI tool, but stay tuned, I will report back when I finally am able to try it out.

(I plan to check in with the science librarian who we have invited as a guest speaker to our course to present on the use of Creative Commons, citations and related matters.”

(This is the second post about pedagogy involving my Foundations in Environmental Policy Class, spring ’23. I migrate most of my posts to my blog,

Stock, Lukas, Nov. 22, “ChatGPT is changing education, AI experts say- but how? Science Global Issues, DW (DeutscheWelle) made for minds,…/chatgpt-is-changing…/a-64454752.

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