Who’s Afraid of ChatGPT?

“Who's afraid of ChatGPT?” Well, it seems like everyone!

By Emily Apuzzo Hopkins | 8 March 2023

It has always been a concern of educators that students produce their own work and quite understandably so. It is difficult to comprehend how well a student grasps information if they aren’t doing the work themselves. Plagiarism has always plagued the educational sphere. Add AI writing tools into the mix and it becomes a quagmire of impossibility for teachers to discern what work is actually that of their students.

However, a number of educators have decided to embrace ChatGPT in a couple of creative ways – see: PBS.org’s article, “Some educators embrace ChatGPT as a new teaching tool” and Chalkbeat’s “How ChatGPT made my lessons more engaging for firsthand accounts.”

As mentioned in the most recent blog of this series, it is difficult to say exactly where we are headed in terms of ChatGPT as technology adapts and changes quickly. After getting a taste of the ChatGPT experience for myself with a couple of interview questions, I decided to expand upon that and interview our AI friend about what it has to say about its impact on education.

What is it about ChatGPT that scares people?

As an AI language model, ChatGPT is designed to process and respond to a wide range of human inputs and questions. However, it is possible that some people may feel uncomfortable or scared by the idea of interacting with an artificial intelligence, for a variety of reasons:

  • Fear of the unknown: Some people may simply be afraid of something that is new and unfamiliar, especially if they have limited experience with AI technology.
  • Sci-fi tropes: Popular culture often depicts artificial intelligence as being malevolent, manipulative or evil, which can contribute to the idea that interacting with an AI like ChatGPT could be dangerous.
  • Privacy concerns: Some people may worry that ChatGPT is collecting and storing their personal information, or that their conversations with the AI could be monitored or used against them in some way.
  • Lack of control: Interacting with an AI like ChatGPT can be unsettling for some people because they feel like they are not in control of the conversation, or that the AI has access to more knowledge and information than they do.
  • Ethical considerations: There are ongoing debates around the ethical implications of AI technology, including concerns around bias, accountability, and transparency. Some people may worry that using an AI like ChatGPT could contribute to these issues.

Overall, it’s important to remember that AI technology is still relatively new and there are many different perspectives on its potential impact. While some people may feel scared or uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with an AI like ChatGPT, others may see it as a useful tool for learning, problem-solving, and communication.

Why are educators, specifically, nervous about ChatGPT?

Educators may be nervous about ChatGPT for a variety of reasons:

  • Concerns about academic dishonesty: ChatGPT has the ability to generate written responses to a wide range of questions and prompts. Educators may worry that students could use this technology to cheat on assignments or exams, by inputting questions and receiving pre-written responses from the AI.
  • Pedagogical concerns: Some educators may worry that using an AI like ChatGPT could reduce the quality of classroom interactions, by taking the focus away from human-to-human interactions and creating a more impersonal learning environment.
  • Technology limitations: While ChatGPT is capable of generating responses to a wide range of questions, it may not be able to provide the same level of nuance or context that a human teacher or tutor can provide. Educators may worry that students who rely too heavily on ChatGPT for assistance may miss out on valuable learning experiences.
  • Ethical considerations: As AI technology continues to evolve, there are ongoing debates around the ethical implications of using these tools in education. Educators may worry about issues such as data privacy, bias, and the potential for AI to reinforce existing inequalities in the classroom.

Overall, while ChatGPT and other AI technologies have the potential to be powerful tools for education, it’s important for educators to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of using these tools in their teaching practices.

What are the benefits of using AI writing tools in the classroom?

There are several potential benefits of using AI writing tools in the classroom:

  • Improved efficiency: AI writing tools can help students generate writing more quickly and efficiently, by providing suggestions for grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, as well as offering prompts and examples to help get them started.
  • Increased engagement: AI writing tools can make the writing process more interactive and engaging for students, by providing personalized feedback and suggestions that can help them improve their skills and confidence.
  • Personalization: AI writing tools can help personalize the writing experience for students, by analyzing their writing strengths and weaknesses and providing tailored feedback and resources to support their individual learning needs.
  • Improved accessibility: AI writing tools can help make writing more accessible for students with disabilities or other learning challenges, by providing tools and features such as text-to-speech and alternative formatting options.
  • Time-saving: By reducing the time and effort required to generate writing, AI writing tools can free up more time for teachers to focus on other aspects of their teaching, such as providing individualized support to students.
  • Consistency: AI writing tools can help ensure consistency in grading and feedback across different assignments and classes, by applying standardized criteria and guidelines.

Overall, AI writing tools can help support students in developing their writing skills and confidence, while also providing teachers with valuable time-saving and personalized learning resources.

What I learned – My journey with ChatGPT

Some initial noticings…

ChatGPT loves a listicle. It is hard to ignore the fact that every response I received in writing this article came out in list form. There were two additional questions that did not make it into this post – also, formatted as a list. While this is not always the response type we can expect, it does make it easy to spot a potential usage of the tool. How could this be turned into a learning opportunity? What types of editing skills could students employ? Have them imagine they are a newspaper editor who wants to fine-tune a reporter’s work – what could they do to improve upon their listicle-loving writer’s words?

It is also pretty plain to see that when generic questions are typed in, you get pretty generic answers. No sense of wit or humor to be seen! Safe to say that Trevor from PBS’s article would agree that ChatGPT lacks feeling, backbone, and flavor. I see a real opportunity for creativity to flourish where AI leaves off. How could these basic prompts and responses be embellished?

Although ChatGPT and similar tools are artificially intelligent, it is important to remember the crucial role humans play. WE create these tools. WE build them to synthesize OUR inputs, OUR array of data. AI can only do what WE enable it to do. Yes, it does things faster and more efficiently, but ultimately (at least for the time being!), WE are in charge.

As educators, we have a duty to prepare students for the future – and many times that means preparing them for jobs that don’t even exist yet. We must embrace AI in a way that prepares students for what they may see in the future – it’s imperative.

So I ask again, “Who’s afraid of ChatGPT?”

Hopefully, it isn’t you!

Emily is the Client Solutions Manager for Meg’s US and UK markets and is based in Nashville, TN. Prior to moving into the world of EdTech, Emily spent 11 years in the classroom, teaching both music and Social Studies. Her experience ranges from early childhood education to adult professional learning. An eternal learner herself, Emily enjoys making connections through education in an effort to better understand others and the world we live in. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @fromstagetosage.