July 19, 2024


Education, What Else?

ChatGPT, Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in Education

11 min read

But … what will it look like?

Here are some ideas, brainstormed by me (a human), by others (with citations provided) and by the bot (because, why not ask it too?).

1. Use it as a more complex, nuanced source of information than Google.

During conversations with students and in-class discussions, we can ask ChatGPT (and other tools like it) to provide us the information we need to drive a conversation forward. The bot's response isn't the first and last word in the conversation. Rather, it just provides details that we can use to discuss a topic.

2. Use it to provide students access to lots of good examples.

Think about how musicians and artists develop their style. They copy their mentors. They take their favorite influences and emulate them. Artists take a canvas to an art gallery or the park, and they paint what they see.

I keep remembering this quote from fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, which I learned about through Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist:

"Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself." -- Yohji Yamamoto

This is also the benefit of being well-read. When students see enough good examples, they start to know what to expect of good writing. Good reasoning. Good logic. They see the hallmarks of it and they can emulate it ... much like a writer or painter emulates the greats.

Artificial intelligence can give students unlimited good examples. (Note that I didn't say "great" examples, but "good.") Ask it for an essay about a certain topic. Then ask it again and it'll give you something different. Then ask it again. Then ask for a slightly different version, specifying something you'd like to see.

When it's time for the student to create something of their own, much like an artist or musician studying the greats, the student will draw from the examples they've seen.

3. Use it to remix student work.

Students create something for class: a story, an essay, a poem, a recap of something they've learned. Then, they can ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to remix it for them.

My favorite example to date of this comes from Donnie Piercey, a fifth grade teacher and the 2021 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. He took a student story and asked ChatGPT to remix it as a nursery rhyme, a soap opera, a sea shanty, and a children's book -- with suggested illustrations! Listen as he tells the story in the video below.

When students see how their work has been remixed, it can open them up to new opportunities.

4. Ask it for definitions (on a variety of levels).

If you need a concept explained or defined, ChatGPT (or a similar tool) can provide that explanation -- and do it in as detailed or simple a manner as you'd like. 

On episode 99 of the Partial Credit Podcast, Jesse Lubinsky shared that he asked for a definition of "faith" in terms a child would understand. That helped me realize that it can give definitions, descriptions, and explanations -- we expected that -- or it can level them up or down in complexity however we ask.

5. Ask it for feedback for student work.

We know that one key aspect to effective feedback is that it's timely. With traditional paper-based work, students turn it in and must wait for teachers to grade it -- and return it! -- before they can see feedback. Lots of edtech tools are letting us get feedback to students more quickly -- whether automated or through direct communication with a teacher or classmate.

ChatGPT (or a similar tool) can be another source of feedback. When students finish a written work, they can copy/paste their work into ChatGPT and ask how they can improve their writing. For example, I copied one of my blog posts into ChatGPT and simply asked how I could improve it. It gave me a list of five suggestions, including transitional phrases, adding more examples, and breaking it up into shorter paragraphs. (Better start a new paragraph now ...)

Of course, it's up to the student -- and based on what the student has learned about writing -- to decide whether to implement the advice and how.

6. Ask it to do some teacher tasks for you.

Ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to write some lesson plans for you. Or some questions for a quiz. Ask it for some jokes about your content so you can slip those into class. Of course, you don't have to use everything that it provides you verbatim. But it might give you a starting point you can modify -- or if you already have something, it can give you ideas to improve.

7. Add it to the "think pair share" thinking routine.

I love this line of thinking from Sarah Dillard (Twitter: @dillardsarah), and if you click on it and look at the whole thread, she explains it more. Students think about a prompt, then discuss it with a classmate. Then they do any searches they want on ChatGPT. They pair back up to discuss what they've found. Then they share with the class.

Using ChatGPT and AI doesn't have to be THE way we teach certain things, but it can add important steps to existing frameworks.

8. Grade the bot.

Jen Giffen (Twitter: @virtualgiff) talked with her high school-aged students about the use of AI and tools like ChatGPT. (We talked on the phone. You'll see that the phone call sparked lots of ideas!) After that conversation, she suggested this idea:

Give a writing prompt to ChatGPT (or a similar tool). It could be a different writing prompt than you'll give your students. Read the essay that the bot creates for you.

Then, give the students the rubric you'll use to grade them and ask them to grade the response from the artificial intelligence.

This helps students to be reflective about the grading process -- and about their own writing process. When students get grades on their own work, it's easy to take it personally -- or to dismiss it because it makes them feel like they've messed up a lot. But when they critique the work of a bot that doesn't have feelings, it eliminates a lot of those emotions. 

9. Debate the bot.

This came from that conversation with Jen, too, and she said she's seen this one shared on social media a lot.

Let students (as individuals, in pairs or small groups, or even as a whole-group activity) debate ChatGPT (or a similar tool). 

Students take one side of a debate. The AI takes the other. Students plug their points in and ask the bot to rebut. 

It gives them low-stakes practice -- and as much practice as they want -- to hone their debate skills. Plus, they may see talking points for their own stance (or that their opponent may use) so they can strengthen their argument.

10. Ask the bot for advice.

One more takeaway from this conversation with Jen! (Although several of the ideas below were sparked during that conversation ... so, you know, credit where credit is due.)

Jen asked ChatGPT very generally, "Give me some advice." It gave her some general (yet very good) ideas on managing stress and relationships and mental wellbeing.

A bot can't be a replacement for counseling or medical help. But we do take advice from friends, family ... even strangers sometimes. If students are struggling with just about anything, they can get advice from this artificial intelligence -- an AI that's working with much of the entirety of the internet as its dataset.

11. Use it to summarize texts.

If a text that your students are reading is in the dataset of ChatGPT (or a similar tool), they could always try to ask it for a summary of the whole thing -- or of certain chapters, sections, acts, scenes, etc. This is what we used SparkNotes and Cliff's Notes for years ago. Of course, SparkNotes and Cliff's Notes were controversial in the past -- "if they read those, they'll never read the text!" -- but eventually we found ways that they could support learning, too.

Seeing a summary of a text that you've just read can help you process what you've read. It's similar in nature to a book club. You hear what other people think and observe about the text and it helps inform your view of it.

This could also be a helpful strategy for reviewing before a quiz or a test.

12. Use it for insight into big, difficult-to-solve problems.

Before you read this one, just remember ... I taught high school Spanish for 10+ years. I'm not a math or science teacher, and I kind of struggled with those during school. That said ...

If you -- or your students -- come up with a math or science problem bigger than you know how to solve (or don't want to take the time to solve), ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool).

If it can solve it, it'll show you an answer. But, more importantly, you'll gain some insight into the process of solving it. And even if it can't solve it, it'll tell you why.

You could also ask it bigger societal questions to see what it would say. I asked it how to solve world hunger, and here's what I got:

Eliminating world hunger is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires the efforts of governments, international organizations, and individuals around the world. Some strategies that have been proposed to address this issue include:

  1. Increasing agricultural productivity: This can be done through the use of advanced technologies such as precision farming and genetically modified crops, as well as by improving infrastructure and access to education and training for farmers.
  2. Reducing food waste: Up to one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted, which represents a significant opportunity to increase food availability. Reducing food waste can be achieved through better storage and transportation systems, as well as by increasing awareness about the issue.
  3. Improving distribution systems: In many cases, food is available, but it is not distributed effectively to those who need it most. Improving distribution systems, including supply chains and transportation networks, can help get food to the people who need it.
  4. Promoting economic development: Economic growth can lead to increased food production and greater access to food, as well as the resources and infrastructure needed to address food insecurity.
  5. Providing emergency food aid: In times of crisis, such as during natural disasters or armed conflict, providing emergency food aid can help prevent starvation and malnutrition.

Ultimately, addressing world hunger will require a combination of these and other approaches, as well as strong political will and sustained commitment from governments and other organizations.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

14. Anticipate the response you'd expect from AI.

If your students have been studying a topic, this could be a great retrieval / brain dump activity -- and a way of ranking the importance of all the things they've learned about the topic.

Tell them that you're going to ask ChatGPT (or a similar tool) to summarize what they've been studying. Ask them what they think the bot will say. It'll prompt them to recall knowledge from their memory (which strengthens long-term memory). Plus, when they rank them in importance (because the bot won't list everything it knows), they'll have to give a justification.

All of this leads to deeper understanding of the material -- and strengthened long-term memory.

15. Take several responses and make a better product.

ChatGPT often has a button at the bottom of a response that says "regenerate response." That's because each time you ask it a question, it generates something original, doing the work from scratch every time.

If you were asked to pick a movie as your favorite, describe it, and tell why you like it in 60 seconds, your response each time would be a little different. (For me, the movie would probably be different every time!) It's an original, unique work each time. ChatGPT works kind of like that every time.

Ask it to answer a question or write something for you. Then ask it again ... and again ... and again. Get five (or more!) versions of the same prompt.

Have students (individually, in pairs/small groups, or even ask a class) take the best parts from those versions and turn it into a better final product.

This can be a scaffolding strategy for students who struggle to write essays or papers. It introduces them to some of the strategy of crafting a written work without all of the taxing effort of doing the whole thing.

16. Create personalized learning experiences.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can AI be used to help teach in the classroom?"

AI can be used to create personalized learning experiences for students by adapting the content and pace of instruction to each student's needs and abilities. This can be achieved through the use of adaptive learning software, which adjusts the material based on the student's performance.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

17. Provide tutoring or coaching.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can AI be used to help teach in the classroom?"

AI can be used to provide one-on-one tutoring or coaching to students, either in person or remotely. This can be particularly useful for students who may not have access to human tutors, or for subjects that are difficult to teach in a traditional classroom setting.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

18. Generate prompts and questions to facilitate discussions.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to facilitate discussions among students by posing questions and prompts that encourage critical thinking and encourage students to engage with the material in a deeper way.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

19. Provide information and answer questions.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to provide students with information on a wide range of topics, and to answer their questions on those topics. This can be particularly useful for subjects that may be difficult to understand or that require a lot of background knowledge.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

20. Supplement in-person instruction.

Response from ChatGPT to "How can you (ChatGPT) be used to help teach in the classroom?"

I can be used to supplement in-person instruction by providing additional resources and materials for students to explore on their own, or by offering additional support and assistance outside of the classroom.

Source: ChatGPT via chat.openai.com (2022)

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