ChatGPT usage by students has educators talking

Launched by OpenAI in late 2022, ChatGPT has been a hot topic of conversation lately nationwide in the education community regarding students’ usage of the software program in completing assignments.

“ChatGPT will not displace the root motive for writing: our human capacity for questioning,” said Brett Vogelsinger, a ninth-grade English teacher in Pennsylvania, responding to an Education Week query about how ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence will affect K-12 schools and the practical strategies teachers can use in response. “Excellent writing starts with questions, and my hope is that pervasive AI moves us away from teacher-created prompts and toward student inquiry.”

He added, “Many teachers are planning more writing for the classroom and more writing by hand. These can be beneficial moves, unless we regress to lots of on-demand writing sessions where students get that ‘major theme’ prompt at the opening bell and a single class period to create an essay for a grade.”

“While I do share the concern about academic honesty … I think that the advent of this tool, and whatever else is coming along after it, give us an opportunity to reflect on how and why we’re teaching writing,” said Gina Parnaby, who teaches 12th-grade English in the Atlanta area, responding to the same EW question. “When I’ve looked at pieces of writing that are generated by AI, that human element — the sense that the writer thought and cared about what they said — feels missing. Too often, it’s also missing from our students’ work. Navigating these new tools in our classrooms will require us to slow down, work through the process of drafting and revising, and make space for us and our students to think and care about the craft of writing.”

Elsewhere, Kaleidoscope founder Sarah Dillard sees plenty of positives, writing in an opinion piece for The 74 that ChatGPT has the potential “to unlock powerful new learning capabilities” and “to be a tool that finally enables robust personalized learning at scale.”

Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Education on Jan. 3 confirmed it has blocked student and teacher access to ChatGPT, reports Chalkbeat New York. “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,” said Jenna Lyle, a spokeswoman for the education department.