ChatGPT, an AI chatbot powered by Open AI is causing a stir in academia. This new technology has the potential to upend how educators teach and students learn. It also opens up endless possibilities for cheating. Educators are grappling with how to engage with this new technology, but need parents to help kids understand how to use this tool ethically.
What is Chat GPT and How Does it Work?
According to Common Sense Media, “ChatGPT is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate text… it gathers large amounts of data from the internet to create responses on demand. ChatGPT is unique because its answers are in conversational format, similar to how people write and speak. It can write essays and computer code, solve math problems, and much more.”
What are the Main Concerns of Educators?
Understandably, many educators are concerned that students will use this new technology to cut corners in their assignments and even overtly cheat by copying and pasting assignments into the chat.
A recent Forbes article quotes one educator, “There’s a lot of cheap knowledge out there. I think this could be a danger in education, and it’s not good for kids.”
Educators also worry these tools could impede accurate assessment of a student’s progress and also give students incorrect and/or biased information. Austin Ambrose, a middle school teacher in Idaho, notes “Students are going to think and use this chatbot as if it is a know-all…That’s because it’s a technology that is creating these things that sound really legitimate, they are going to assume that it is and take it at face value.”
Importance of Digital Literacy for Digital Natives
Because our children are digital natives, and can use technology, we mistakenly assume that they understand how it works and how to use it correctly. This is where digital literacy education plays an important role.
Teachers and parents need to help children understand important elements of digital literacy and help them learn tools to navigate the digital landscape that includes how to use tools like Chat GPT ethically and responsibly, which includes understanding its limitations.
Possibilities for Education
While academic professionals have valid concerns, many are excited about the possibilities of this new tool. They see opportunities to increase equity and efficiency. Teachers express excitement about rethinking outdated instructional practices and helping students learn to think critically and thoughtfully about their technology usage. They are collaborating to develop curriculum and classroom activities to incorporate digital literacy and new tools like Chat GPT into lessons, preparing children to adapt to the realities of evolving technology.
What Should Parents Do?
Talk to your kids! Honest, frank conversations are critical to helping your child navigate all digital media challenges. It’s important for parents to learn about new technology and work together with kids to establish boundaries and understanding.
Banning any media comes with risks and removes all conversation and guardrails should a child choose to circumvent the ban. The most prudent approach is transparency and discussion of ethical concerns and a warning about negative implications.
New technology brings risks and uncertainty, but it also brings opportunities and possibilities. Our kids are digital natives, but they are not digital experts. We can navigate these waters together and all come out more savvy consumers of technology.