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Does ChatGPT Help or Hinder Learning?


ChatGPT, A Marvel of Modern Technology… or Is It? 

You may know the chatbot for its clever and concise responses, but do you know of its faults and weaknesses? ChatGPT was released for public use on November 30th, 2022, and since then different thoughts and opinions have swept the nation. Some people interpreted the chatbot as a wild new breed of innovation that would soon change the world for the better! Others believe it’s nothing but technical scripts spitting out various information from discredited sources. Which is correct? How does this emerging technology affect learning in our schools? 

How Does It Work?

ChatGPT is essentially a program that interacts conversationally with the user. GPT, an acronym for “Generated Pre-trained Transformers”, has a dialogue format that is trained to answer questions, provide detailed responses, draft emails, code computer programs, compose music, challenge incorrect answers, and many more. ChatGPT was the sibling model that went along with InstructGPT, a similar program that was also trained to follow prompts. A more in-depth explanation of how the chatbot works explained by Maruti TechLabs states, “It is trained using machine-learning algorithms and can understand open-ended queries. Not only does it comprehend orders, but it also understands the language. As the bot learns from the interactions it has with users, it continues to improve.” A self-improving program that understands its own mistakes and corrects them itself is truly fascinating.  

A brief history of AI can show that the term “AI” has been around since the 50s and has gradually changed computers to store information, faster, cheaper, and more accessible. Starting from the very beginning computers could only follow commands and couldn’t store them. In reference to Harvard’s History of Artificial Intelligence, “computers needed to fundamentally change. Before 1949 computers lacked a key prerequisite for intelligence: they couldn’t store commands, only execute them. In other words, computers could be told what to do but couldn’t remember what they did.” AI didn’t become more until 1956 when a conference presented at the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on artificial intelligence brought top researchers to discuss AI. The conference itself fell short of expectations but it catapulted the idea of AI to be achievable in the coming years and it began the next twenty years of AI research and development.

Should Schools Use Them In The Classroom?

ChatGPT or AI in general puts many at worry regarding education. Fears of AI being used irresponsibly to cheat or plagiarize were the main causes of concern for schools. Many school districts blocked access to the site and many teachers began checking for AI plagiarism and revamping lessons to be “anti-AI”. A survey that was conducted by revealed that 26% of teachers have caught a student cheating using ChatGPT, a small but significant amount. The survey also showed that 43% of teachers think that the chatbot will make their jobs increasingly more difficult but 53% on the contrary think it will make their job easier. Why is that? The survey displays that the main skills that teachers think students can improve from ChatGPT are critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis. Another thing you might be wondering is how AI is used in our schools.

 I took the liberty to interview Dr. Eric Johnson about his use of ChatGPT in his classroom and what his thoughts on AI were. Dr. Johnson explained that he uses ChatGPT’s feedback on essays for students with a prompt he developed himself. He explains that the prompt he made has to be specific enough to train the AI to give specific answers based on what the student writes. I brought up the possibility of students using the program to cheat and he compared it similarly to the beginning of the internet and how the fear of cheating was the same as it was now but replaced with AI. His outlook on AI in schools is that cheating is going to happen, but that as long as we learn to use AI ethically and responsibly the technology could be useful to students and teachers. 

Another example of use in the classroom is from LHS student Emilia Alves. She described her minor use of the chatbot for inspiration on an essay she was working on. She described her experience as a negative one by describing the AI as “weird, and kinda scary,” and having no integrity from the way they retrieve their information. She believes that students should be able to use traditional materials instead of AI so they learn the skills the way it was originally. Her overall outlook on AI in classrooms is that students shouldn’t need to rely on a computer to get their own work done. 

How Can We Use It Ethically and Responsibly?

Now it begs the question, how can we use AI ethically in the classroom? I personally think AI could be helpful for classes if we know how to use them the right way, but many consider this a topic that should be carefully thought out before implementing use in the classroom. The many ways teachers have used ChatGPT for practical learning include creating tests, quizzes, and perfecting teaching strategies. AI can be used as a teaching tool to analyze data and show student analytics to help show visible weaknesses and strengths in the classroom. Using AI for self-improvement for work and tests can also be encouraged in the right classroom setting. Making sure you ask your teacher if you can use ChatGPT for any purposes is a must! With responsible use of AI, we can change the way we learn in the classroom.

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About the Contributor
Simon Oski, Staff Writer
Simon Oski is a part of the Class of 2026 at Ludlow High School. He is a music lover, an amateur musician, a Beatlemaniac, and a casual reader and writer. He spends his time watching movies, reading, and playing his electric guitar. Simon has his eyes set on pursuing a career in history after high school.

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