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How Are Schools Dealing With ChatGPT in The Classroom? Probably Not So Well

As AI technology, particularly tools like ChatGPT, becomes prevalent in educational settings, educators, institutions, and regulatory bodies grapple with its implications on academic integrity and teaching methodologies. Serious challenges are now posed by AI in the classroom and the FTC's concerns over deceptive AI tools and OpenAI's stance on academic honesty are crucial to integrating AI responsibly while ensuring critical thinking and transparency.
A bunch of worried robots sitting in classroom seats after an exam, made with Midjourney
A bunch of worried robots sitting in classroom seats after an exam, made with Midjourney
October 2, 2023 4:40 am

As technology moves fast, schools are trying to keep up.

But when it comes to using AI in the classroom, many teachers and schools are feeling lost. They might not say it, but it's obvious from the stories students have been sharing.

Even the biggest tech names behind it all, OpenAI, have said it's not an easy problem to solve. It seems everyone's still trying to figure out the best way forward. And with school back in session again, we're in for an exciting year... that's for sure.

While science fiction delights us with tales of detectives teaming up with robots, the real-world story in our schools is a bit different.

Instead of fun mysteries, teachers are facing the challenge of students turning in work that might not really be their own, but created by AI tools like ChatGPT.

FTC Sounded the Alarm

The Federal Trade Commission has even made their own announcement voicing their concerns about the rise of deceptive generative AI tools. With the onset of deepfakes, voice cloning, and even manipulative chatbots, there's a growing urgency to discern authentic content from AI-generated noise.

Detection tools like Originality, CopyLeaks, and Content at Scale have entered the market, each with its set of promises. However, the FTC reminds us of the critical thing: these tools are far from perfect.

The FTC stated: If you’re selling a tool that purports to detect generative AI content, make sure that your claims accurately reflect the tool’s abilities and limitations.

Over-reliance on or blind trust in these technologies can lead to undesired consequences, especially in academic settings. Just look at what's happening with TurnItIn.

OpenAI's Stance on AI and Academic Honesty

OpenAI acknowledges the gaps in many educational institutions' academic honesty policies concerning generative AI. With students using AI tools, sometimes covertly, for their assignments, educators find themselves navigating murky waters.

Their research throws light on another concern: the inability of current AI detectors to consistently differentiate between AI and human-generated content. Even revered human-written texts, like Shakespeare's plays or the Declaration of Independence, weren't spared from mislabeling by these detectors.

Combining OpenAI's Recommendations with FTC's Cautions

While OpenAI offers guidance for educators to harness AI's potential responsibly, the FTC's reservations about detection tools underscore the importance of vigilance. Here are integrated recommendations for educators:

OpenAI suggests that students share specific interactions with tools like ChatGPT. If an assignment can be easily completed with ChatGPT, maybe educators should rethink exactly what they're having students do.

Equipping students with the knowledge to critically assess AI's outputs prepares them for an AI-driven future while fostering academic integrity.

The FTC's concerns about tools possibly disadvantaging non-English speakers or those with formulaic writing styles only underscore the need for comprehensive AI education.

Students should be encouraged to harness AI as a learning tool while being aware of its limitations and potential biases.

How Education Is Changing Because of AI

  1. Change in Attitude: After initially resisting the use of AI in classrooms, many school districts are now rapidly adapting to create AI-friendly environments. This is driven by the realization that it’s more practical to leverage this technology than resist it. It's a bit uncontrollable
  2. Regulation and Acceptance: School leaders are now setting standards for the acceptable use of AI in education. At the same time, discussions are taking place at the national level about potential regulations for AI in K-12 education.
  3. Preparation for the Future: There's a sentiment that future jobs will require skills related to or influenced by AI, so educators want to equip students with the necessary tools for that evolving job market. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
  4. Survey: About 61% of teachers believe that ChatGPT has valuable educational applications.
  5. Integration: In New York, the Department of Education has reversed its initial ban on ChatGPT, instead offering resources and courses to help educators integrate AI into their curricula.
  6. Citing AI Work: Some districts are allowing AI usage in schools, provided it's used responsibly and students acknowledge when they've received assistance from chatbots like ChatGPT.
  7. Cheating Concerns: While there's enthusiasm for AI, concerns about academic integrity still do persist, I won't sugarcoat that. Slapping AI detection checkers on student work isn't the answer though. If teachers don't recognize that, lawsuits will.
  8. Federal Stance: The U.S. Education Department sees potential in AI for personalized learning but is also wary of potential privacy concerns. Specific national regulations for AI in education are still in the works.
  9. Union Perspectives: The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is advocating for strict AI regulations. They believe that complete bans on AI are impractical and stress the importance of implementing proper safeguards.
  10. Training and Education: There's an emphasis on training educators on AI. The International Society for Technology in Education and other nonprofits are providing AI courses and trainings for teachers. Of course as time goes on this become more accessible.
  11. Enthusiasm: Advocates believe that training teachers and incorporating AI into education will better prepare students for tech-driven jobs in the future. The sentiment is that the educational community should experiment with AI to better understand its implications and potential.

If I was a teacher, I'd simply let students use it but caution them that if a single explicitly stated fact is wrong on a paper, they fail the entire assignment. Who would use ChatGPT to write entire essays if they weren't positive it was accurate?

The challenge for educational institutions lies not just in leveraging AI's capabilities but in fostering an environment of transparency, integrity, and critical thinking.

My prediction is teachers are going to scramble, freak out, and try to lay down the law. Then they'll realize "everyone" seems to be using AI.

Shortly after, unfortunately, these teachers realize there's no actual way to determine if something was written with AI. And then a very long discussion will take place around the nation and world on how education needs to adapt to this technological breakthrough.

It's not going to be easy, but realizing the beast is bigger than one can control is a huge first step.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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