It has been a while since my last post. It delved into the topic of education and the ownership of learning, and now, five years later, the subject remains pertinent and has motivated me to return to writing. Reflecting on the fact that educational systems continue to fail students, it seems that every 4-5 years, I find myself revisiting the subject of learning, though from different angles. Despite this, it appears that fundamental issues persist and outdated mindsets continue to prevail.
The spark for this writing came from the recent release of ChatGPT and the decision by some educational institutions to reject what could potentially be a powerful tool. I will not delve into the ethical considerations surrounding the use of such technology, as the morality of a tool is ultimately determined by the user. But I believe it’s worth exploring various potential applications and institutional reactions through a multi-variable testing approach, akin to A/B testing, but with a greater number of variables, not morality police or outright banning.
Are the actual threats worth banning for or should educational institutions be the drivers of specific use cases for this type of technology such as: student usage for educational activities (research, tasks, homework, projects), customizing learning paths, automating the tutoring process, and providing language translation and accessibility features for students with special needs might? Should institutions focus on how to mitigate the dependence on technology which may lead to lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills then outright banning it? Should…
At this point the author realized he had a choice: either keep it brief and get straight to the point, or start working on a novel. Guess we’re sticking with the short and sweet option!
If we take a step back and think about the problem at its core, we’ll see that there’s more to it than that… or less, depending if you’re first principles thinking. For example, consider a task assigned to a group of students that employed one of the latest publicly available software tools to solve the assignment. Where’s the cheating in that? Did the first printers cheat? Did Alexander Graham Bell cheat by not using pigeons? Did DeepMind cheat when it used AlphaFold to solve protein folding? It’s ironic that the institutions meant to teach our next generations how to solve problems optimally are banning the use of what could be a disruptive tool.
This type of thinking is short-sighted and fails to take into account the potential benefits that ChatGPT and other similar technologies can bring to education. By focusing solely on the potential for cheating, institutions are missing out on the opportunities to improve and enhance the learning experience for students.
One of the most obvious benefits of ChatGPT is its ability to automate the tutoring process. This technology can provide personalized feedback and guidance to students, helping them to better understand the material and improve their performance. Additionally, ChatGPT can assist with language translation and provide additional context, making education more accessible to students with limited language proficiency.
Furthermore, ChatGPT can help to customize learning paths, allowing students to progress at their own pace and focus on the areas they need the most help with. This can be especially beneficial for students with special needs, who may require more individualized instruction.
In order to mitigate the dependence on technology and ensure that students are not losing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, it is essential that institutions take a thoughtful and nuanced approach to the implementation of ChatGPT and other similar technologies. This includes developing appropriate curriculum, assignments, and testing practices that take advantage of the technology while also addressing the potential risks.
One group that is also impacted by the ChatGPT in their education is non-students who are looking to learn and improve their skills. These individuals do not have access to the resources and support provided by educational institutions, and were in the past at a disadvantage when it comes to learning and personal development. But, the availability of ChatGPT to non-students provides an opportunity to level the playing field.
With ChatGPT, non-students can access the same personalized feedback and guidance as students in educational institutions, and can also take advantage of the technology’s ability to automate the tutoring process, customize learning paths, and assist in various educational activities such as research, tasks, homework, and projects.
In addition, companies and organizations may prefer to hire non-students who have had access to ChatGPT over students who have been educated in institutions where the technology is banned. This is because these non-students may have had a better and more personalized learning experience, and may have developed more advanced problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities as a result of using ChatGPT.
In conclusion, the decision to reject ChatGPT and other similar technologies in education is a missed opportunity. Instead of focusing solely on the potential for cheating, institutions should take a more holistic approach and consider the many benefits that this technology can bring to the learning experience. With the right approach, ChatGPT and other similar technologies can be powerful tools that can help to improve the education system and better prepare our next generation for the future.
P.S. It’s possible that some or all of this text was generated by ChatGPT. Can you spot where the model’s input begins? Feel free to try and find out for yourself!
P.S.S. It’s possible that some or all of this text was generated with the assistance of a human. Inconsistencies can be directly attributed.