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Is ChatGPT really a problem for the education industry?

Starting at the basics: What is ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an input prompt-based artificial intelligence program which has been rigorously trained to provide high quality output to users. People can enter text, images, and videos as prompts, and can expect a near perfect response from the AI to their queries. So much so that the AI has been sitting for the most difficult exams around the world - including the bar exam in the United States, GMAT for MBA admissions, and many more - all of which it has been able to ace in a jiffy so far.

But with great power come great consequences. The hyper popular AI has met with very debatable opinions about its benefits, cons, and whether the choice to have a virtual assistant at the expense of livelihoods lost is ethically and morally acceptable. However, when it comes to education, the problem runs deeper.

Why is ChatGPT controversial?

One of the primary reasons why someone may use ChatGPT would be to make life easier. Less time spent brainstorming means more work done. However, outsourcing the problem-solving process to AI means that while it would offer some really good suggestions and outputs, it can be far from perfect. Criminal, even (this professor on LinkedIn found out that if you search for research paper recommendations with the program, it shares paper names that have never been published (or frankly, dont exist)).

And so, when it comes to education and EdTech, the program has been banned in schools in many countries around the world, including the US, India, and Australia. With the AI still rampant with disruptions and problems, the greatest fear amongst the Education Industry is that teachers would become complacent and unwittingly may plan lessons or set exams with superficial content that lacks depth, creativity, and pointedness. However, this is no challenge that can't be overcome with human discretion.

Pros and Cons: Is ChatGPT good for education?

If educators can get up to speed about the “howthisworks” of ChatGPT, it can be an asset. The program calls for an open mindset. But these are tricky waters to navigate for both teachers and students.

What are the pros?

1. Personalized Learning Experience

One of the most significant benefits of using ChatGPT for teaching is that it allows for a personalized learning experience. The system can generate responses tailored to each student's learning style, providing customized feedback and support that is tailored to their individual needs. This can result in more efficient and effective learning, as students receive the guidance and feedback they need to overcome any challenges they may face. Gamification of learning processes is another popular method used by educators to ensure that students’ memory and understanding is reinforced. Game-based learning also offers real-time analytics for evaluating one’s own performance and comparing it with other students in the same class or subject.

2. Available 24/7

Another advantage of using ChatGPT for teaching is that it's available 24/7 (except for when it’s at capacity), allowing students to access educational materials and support whenever they need it. This is particularly beneficial for students who are unable to attend traditional classroom settings, as it provides them with an alternative learning experience that is flexible and convenient. The caveat here is that students would require a stable internet connection, which is still a luxury for many learners around the world.

3. Access to a Wide Range of Information

ChatGPT has access to a vast amount of information, which makes it an excellent resource for students who are looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. The system can provide students with quick and accurate answers to any questions they may have, allowing them to learn at their own pace and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.

At the same time, it opens roads to plagiarism and cheating as well. Unless a specialist software checking for AI-based plagiarism is created, it’s a dodgy road to go down.

Ifs, buts, and cons?

1. Lack of personal touch

One of the major drawbacks of ChatGPT is that it lacks the personal touch that a human teacher provides. While ChatGPT can help with accurate and consistent responses, it cannot provide the emotional support and encouragement students need for nurturing growth and improvement. This lack of personal touch is detrimental to a student’s motivation and engagement in the learning process, with regular engagement and retention being crucial for deep learning and high performance.

2. Dependence on Technology

As highlighted earlier too - ChatGPT is a tech dependent resource, which means that lack of access to technology or internet makes the playing field extremely un-level.

3. Potential for Misinformation

ChatGPT is trained on a vast amount of data but it is not perfect. It is easy to assume any misinformation provided by the AI program as factually accurate, since the knowledge base of this program is significantly beyond the access of human ability.

Anything besides ChatGPT?

So while ChatGPT and other search-based AIs can certainly be used to increase the scope of one’s knowledge, there are other tech based tools that demand less technological dependence and are more high-impact for students, teachers, and other stakeholders of the education sector.

Game-based teaching refers to a new way of teaching that involves game-like learning processes that are fun, interesting, interactive, and promote high engagement amongst learners.

Game-based teaching has also been proven to increase retention and drive high scores amongst students. Educators can use a cloud-based digital portal to create classes and upload fun quizzes and resources to an app that students can download on their device of choice. Once enrolled, students can access the class without the internet and revise anytime, anywhere they prefer. With access to powerful real-time analytics about the performance of each individual student enrolled in a class, the human touch that is compromised by AI is made up for by game-based teaching.

To sum it all up…

ChatGPT is a valuable tool for online teaching, but it should not be relied upon solely. It is essential to incorporate human interaction and emotional support to ensure students receive a well-rounded education. Online teaching should aim to provide students with a combination of technology and human interaction, and ChatGPT can play an important role in achieving this goal. At the same time, it is crucial to ensure that the benefits of AI are used to complement traditional teaching methods, rather than replace them.

While using ChatGPT as a teaching assistant is certainly a big win for AI, game-based teaching tools will drive real impact for students. ChatGPT can be used for resource ideas, to develop questionnaires (which would need some tweaking now and then) and the same can be converted into engaging teaching and revision modules using gamification. Combining the pros of these tools would cancel out their cons, and we can well imagine that this is what the future of education looks like.


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