November 4, 2023
By Burton Kelso
The Technology Expert
Chat GPT was released in November of 2022 and since then, it has made major changes to our digital world. Everyone has jumped on the generative AI bandwagon and is using it to create everything from screenplays to complex art images.
With students already deeply plugged into technology, it’s only natural that they are also using AI to help them with their school studies. If you’re not familiar with generative AI tools like ChatGPT, essentially these tools allow people to talk to a computer like they would a person. Need an outline for a paper, it will not only give you the outline, it will write the paper for you. Need complex math problems solved? Done. No wonder students are using AI. The challenge comes when students start to use AI in their own classwork. AI isn’t going anywhere and is an excellent tool for learning. How can you keep your student from using it to cheat? Here’s what you need to know.
AI has been around for a long time and is already a large part of our lives. When you visit websites, an AI chatbot pops up and tries to answer your basic questions. Need to call for support or customer service, that’s an AI chatbot sends you to the right person. Ever asked Siri or Google for help on your phone, That’s AI at work. Newer forms of AI allow you to make queries in the form of prompts that allow you to interact with your computer like you would a person.
We all know students will cheat when they get the chance. When it comes to your students using AI, there’s nothing wrong with them using this incredible tool to find answers to questions. During the pandemic, many students (and parents) turned to the internet, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa to find answers to questions because teachers weren’t always available. Also, there are helpful AI tools like Grammarly that can be a lifesaver when generating content. The problem is when your students turn to AI to complete assignments for them. Generative AI tools can write reports and computer codes. It can also create chats that look like they were created by humans. A growing number of school systems have blocked ChatGPT on their computers and networks.
As a parent or guardian, you don’t have to ban ChatGPT from your computers. Let your students use AI, but make sure they understand the strengths and limitations of AI. Help them understand the following:
AI isn’t perfect. Generative AI tools aren’t artificial intelligence in the sense that the machines are self-aware. They essentially are large databases filled with information in order to satisfy the needs of people who need the information from them. Also, Chat GPT and other AI tools are in beta, meaning they are still working out all of the bugs with how AI interacts to the queries or prompts that users input into these systems. Finally, the release of ChatGPT wasn’t meant to have this large of an impact. It was meant to be experimental. This means it’s full of mistakes. Did you hear the news story of the lawyer who used it to write a legal brief? To accomplish its goal, ChatGPT quoted cases that never happened. Yes, sometimes AI will hallucinate and generate content that never happened. As you can expect the presiding judge wasn’t too happy with the lawyer.
You could be stealing someone’s intellectual property. Because AI can generate information so quickly, it’s tempting for a student to use it to write papers. The challenge is if a student used a prompt to create a term paper, AI could be pulling information from someone else’s work. When feeding the ‘beast’ of AI, the people who are maintaining these Chatbots are feeding it any information without checking for sources. Remember, this tool was created for entertainment purposes.
ChatGPT isn’t ready for current events. The information that’s fed into AI tools is only as current at 2021. Again, ChatGPT was created for entertainment purposes and was never intended to help little Bobby or Susie create their current events paper.
There are tools that can detect a paper created by ChatGPT. If your student writes a paper using AI, chances are your school will know. Most schools know students will try to take the easy way out and are using tools that can scan the work turned in to find out if it was created by your student or AI. How? Even though AI produces work that can look like a human created it, it leaves behind signs that other forms of AI detection tools can pick up on to let someone know if it was written by a human or a machine.
Now I’m not saying you should ban ChatGPT in your household. It’s a wonderful tool that can help your student reach its highest potential. To help them get more from AI, have them focus on the following:
Encourage creative thinking. Creative thinking is what will help your student excel in life. In our current work environment, businesses prefer employees who can think on their feet as opposed to someone you have to micro-manage. When you help your students to focus on Chat GPT as a tool to enhance those creative juices, they will go farther in life.
Focus on using ChatGPT as a last resort. Tell your students to try to go as far as they can in their thought process.
Treat ChatGPT as a learning partner. When your student needs to look up information, they are going to turn to Google in a heartbeat to find much-needed information. Have them use ChatGPT as a learning resource, allowing them to find the information they need as opposed to just using it when they need it to create content for them.
Hopefully, this article has given you the information you need to help keep your students from using ChatGPT to cheat as opposed to using it as a learning resource. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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