With the rise of AI programs like ChatGPT, some teachers are concerned about plagiarism and cheating among students, leading some school districts to ban them.
Other teachers like Donnie Piercey, who teaches fifth graders in Lexington, Kentucky, are taking a different approach and turning to the online tool to help in the classroom.
“Like any other educator, I had that concern. Is this something that students are going to use just to cheat? So I started thinking, ‘Okay, what role is AI — artificial intelligence — going to play in the classroom?’ Piercey, the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, told “Good Morning America.” “And the more I thought about it, I realized there’s a lot more good that can come about through AI as opposed to the negative things that can come about in the classroom.”
ChatGPT, short for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, refers to an online chatbot service developed by artificial intelligence company OpenAI. Users can type complex questions and queries, similar to a search engine, and have the computer program generate answers, information, and even poetry.
Piercey decided to give ChatGPT a try and now uses the chatbot to create prompts and exercises for students. For example, Piercey welcomed “GMA” into his classroom and showed how he used ChatGPT to create paragraphs that he then used in a grammar exercise with students, asking them to determine whether the text was written by ChatGPT or their classmates. She has also used ChatGPT to create personalized projects, which she then turned into reading exercises for students.
The veteran teacher said that ChatGPT has its advantages and has also helped bring out students’ interest and creativity.
“The big thing I’ve looked for as a teacher over the last 17 years is what things can I bring to my lessons that inspire my students to be creative. With artificial intelligence, with ChatGPT, I’ve always looked for a way I can use this tool to to inspire my students to be better students, to really master the content,” Piercey said.
Some of Piercey’s students say they believe ChatGPT is here to stay and are open to embracing the tool.
“If it continues to expand, that’s basically typical of what this generation is doing right now,” fifth-grader Isabella Whitice told “GMA.”
“If you keep the AI safe, it’s going to be really helpful,” added fellow fifth grader Caleb Roberts.
Across the country in Oregon, Tobin and Cherie Shields teach high school and college students and also use ChatGPT in their teaching.
“It’s going to make our education system more accurate and it’s going to make it more interesting and more accessible and more creative, where I think a lot of educators think it’s going to do the opposite,” Tobin Shields told GMA.
Cherie Shields recently wrote an opinion piece for “Education Week” defending the use of the AI tool.
“I think employers in the future will be asking employees to work with artificial intelligence,” he told “GMA.” “It’s just a life skill that we’re going to have to perpetuate moving forward if we want our students to be sustainable in the workplace.”
Some schools, teachers express concern about ChatGPT
One of the hallmarks of ChatGPT and other similar services is its ability to find answers and perform simple tasks — compose an email or outline in seconds, for example — but that usability and convenience factor worries some educators who say that artificial intelligence technology could lead to more cheating among students.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers unions in the country, previously told “GMA” that she is concerned about the rise of ChatGPT and AI tools in schools.
“It’s scary because as teachers, we want kids to write full paragraphs, but we want it to be their original work,” Weingarten said.
Some have already tried to restrict the use of ChatGPT in schools, including public school districts in New York and Los Angeles.
Seattle Public Schools, meanwhile, banned ChatGPT in December, but later reversed course and allowed teachers to use ChatGPT as a teaching tool.
“We can’t afford to ignore it,” district spokesman Tim Robinson told The Associated Press in late January.
Speaking to Axios earlier in January, Robinson said the district was concerned that students could generate answers and content using the AI system instead of thinking things through themselves. “It requires original thinking and original work from students, and the concern here is that sites like this can produce content that is not original,” he said at the time.