As we grapple with the implications of AI for education, AEU research officer KIRSTEN SADLER has gathered some advice on navigating the challenges.
With OpenAI’s recent release of the ChatGPT tool, artificial intelligence is making waves in the media and in education, as governments across Australia ban the tool in classrooms and scramble to work out how it can be appropriately used by students and staff.
In essence, ChatGPT can draw on huge amounts of the data and information available on the internet to provide a detailed, conversational response to a human prompt. This has implications for many subject areas, but particularly those in which written assignments are the main form of student assessment.
In response to concerns about plagiarism, OpenAI is developing a ‘digital watermark’ – a digital signal that would identify the content as AI-generated. However, in this fast-moving space, people will likely find workarounds, and we are already seeing similar AI models on the horizon. See further articles on this topic by Jeff Sparrow (page 30) and Travis Mackenzie (page 49) in this edition of AEU News.
AEU Victoria’s position is that AI developments and their implementation should be influenced at all stages by the teaching profession – and that government must fund timely and relevant professional learning for staff. Further details can be found in the AEU’s Technology and Teaching policy, developed by the AEU Education Committee and endorsed by the AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Council in October 2021.
Outline expectations about how students will use AI responsibly and help them see how and why the technology can fall short.
Five ways to navigate emerging challenges posed by ChatGPT
Be transparent and outline expectations – Let students know that teachers recognise that they may be using AI to produce their written work. Outline expectations about how they will use AI responsibly and help them see how and why the technology can fall short. For example, explain the ways in which AI-generated writing is identifiable and issues with source attribution and authenticity.
Establish conditions for learning – Explain the ways that in-class learning is based on more than final pieces of written text. Examples include face-to-face discussions with teachers and peers, in-class note-taking and verbal and written reflection. Encourage students to consider and discuss how this instructional design affects their AI use.
Talk often with students as you get to know them – While initially getting to know students, authenticate their learning by creating opportunities for them to write without technology in-class and speaking regularly with them. Take notes about these conversations to help you plan for teaching and reflect on their progress.
Grade writing processes, not just products – Assess students not just on a final product but on their progress and writing processes along the way. Redesign assessments to accommodate AI, for example by focusing on what students need to know for the future, or assigning work that asks students to draw from personal experiences. Or you may decide to ditch the home-based assignment altogether.
The real-time assessment of students’ writing includes talking with them about their work and listening to their thinking processes. Give graded feedback that evolves as students’ work improves and which contributes to their final grades. Consider any implications for students with disability in whatever new approach you take to assessment.
Dedicate time to instructional design – Plan ways of assessing your students’ writing and other assignments during class time. This may include which students you will meet with and in what way (e.g. one-to-one, small groups), setting meeting goals, and identifying materials needed.
While it may seem that concerns about widespread cheating and radical disruptions to education are dominating debate for now, there is a growing online voice emerging about the potential benefits that ChatGPT could bring to school staff – if bans are lifted. These include, but are not limited to, novel ways of using AI to make teachers’ work easier, to creatively boost student learning and engagement under teachers’ expert guidance, and to teach students about the ramifications of AI for the future.
This article draws on three sources: Kara Douma, ‘How to Keep Students Writing in the Age of AI Tools’ at edutopia.org; Vitomir Kovanovic, ‘The dawn of AI has come, and its implications for education couldn’t be more significant’ on theconversation.com; and Pia Ceres, ‘ChatGPT is Coming for Classrooms. Don’t Panic’ at wired.com, which provide useful overviews of ChatGPT, its potential impacts on education, and ideas about how educators can respond to artificial intelligence.