First students learn about and share their thoughts on the issues A.I. chatbots raise for schools. Then, we invite them to help design both ethical guidelines and curriculum projects that use the tool for learning. Source: The New York Times.
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Late last year, a major breakthrough in the world of artificial intelligence put extraordinary powers in the hands of anyone with access to the internet. Kevin Roose, the Times Tech columnist, calls ChatGPT “the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public”:
It can write jokes (some of which are actually funny), working computer code and college-level essays. It can also guess at medical diagnoses, create text-based Harry Potter games and explain scientific concepts at multiple levels of difficulty.
Warm-Up: Play With the Tool
Ask your students, What do you know or have you heard about ChatGPT? Have you experimented with it yourself? What did you think of it? What questions do you have?
Depending on their responses, they may need a broad introduction to the tool. If so, we recommend an episode of The Daily called “Did Artificial Intelligence Just Get Too Smart?” (Students can follow along via the transcript.)
If your students have heard about ChatGPT and want to see it in action but your school is among those that have blocked it, you can look at the examples in the column “ChatGPT Has a Devastating Sense of Humor.” A part of that conversation, in which the Times columnist Farhad Manjoo asks the chatbot “Is a hot dog a sandwich?,” is embedded above.
But if possible, try playing with the tool itself by putting in a prompt and seeing what happens. Your prompt might be based on a previous or current assignment, or it could be something your class develops on the spot. As the chatbot responds, ask students to pose additional suggestions to refine the output.
Finally, discuss questions like these as a class before reading our featured article about the tool’s implications for schools.
What did you notice? What did you wonder?
What does ChatGPT seem to do well? What does it seem to do poorly? Why do you think that is?
Do you think it is the game-changer that many seem to believe it is?
Why do you think many educators are worried about this new technology? Do you agree with any of those concerns?
Before we read a related article that looks closely at the role of this tool in education, what do you think? How should schools respond to ChatGPT? Why?
Read the article, “Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach,” then answer the following questions:
1. This article opens with an anecdote. What does it tell you? Why do you think the writer started that way? What is your reaction to the story?
2. Across the country, educators are “starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, prompting a potentially huge shift in teaching and learning.” Have you seen that in your school or district or in any of your classes? How have your teachers addressed ChatGPT?
3. Generative A.I. like ChatGPT is in its early days. What related tools and technologies are on the horizon, according to the article? Are you excited about the possibilities?
4. Much of this piece is devoted to how colleges and professors are responding to the tool by rethinking policies and curriculum. What are some things they are doing? Which of those things seem most sensible or useful to you? Are there any you think your school should adopt? Are there any you think your school should avoid? Why?
6. There are more than 3,500 reader comments on this article. Why do you think this topic has prompted so much discussion, worry, and argument? Scanning the comments, do you see any that express something you think, too? Which and why?