Sometimes I consider myself born in the wrong generation. Not only because I have always felt a strong desire to waltz around a ballroom or spend days learning how to ride horseback and archery, but also because technology has always been somewhat of a weak point for me. I know the basics as every Gen Z-Millennial breed does but outside of that my skills can often steer into the territory of ineptitude. Other than being quite embarrassing, it brings about the interesting idea of how entangled our lives have become with technology.
Technology is no great evil. It has changed so many things for the better, from how we communicate with faraway family to how we provide healthcare. But as we continue to strive forward and create miracles using technology, it is imperative we understand how to not simply stop development but to grow alongside it.
Chat GPT is an interesting and perfect example of a technology that has pointed out weaknesses within our current approaches to learning. Though only recently rising into the discussion of the public sphere, ChatGPT has proved itself to be a fast working AI bot that has been able to accurately create responses to essay questions, answer problems and write jokes. With its vast capabilities it is no surprise that it has drawn both supporters and detractors.
Due to the near humanoid and adaptable way of responding to questions, it may alter the education system itself. For one, it may change relations between students and teachers as with such a capable instructor at their fingertips students may become less inclined to truly interact with their teachers. Moreover, its incumbency has caused cheating to become increasingly prevalent. This is no new idea. Students have been designing specific and increasingly creative ways to cheat since the arrival of technology and school in turn has criminalized plagiarism further and further. Indeed, for what other frowned-upon act does one sign forms and take modules as often they do other than for plagiarism? In response to ChatGPT they have cracked down even further. But will this truly change anything?
Plagiarism has existed long before ChatGPT and it will continue long after. Perhaps we should wonder why that is, rather than simply increasing restrictions. Perhaps we should wonder whether it time to change how we teach.
AI is an incredible tool but I still strongly believe that it will never be able to rival humanity in certain ways. Humans have logic and reasoning, empathy and understanding. Perhaps the education system should shift towards techniques that focus on these unique aspects of humanity and learning. For example, instead of posing formulaic essay questions that an AI bot could answer, instructors should focus on discussions and creation. Foster understanding in a way that plays to students strengths and does not force them to view texts through a specific lens they may not comprehend. And maybe, though a bit more drastic, change how students are evaluated. If the pressure of getting good grades and finishing assignments does not weigh so heavily on students perhaps they would never turn to AI. They could focus on their own wisdom and questions rather than churning out words on a page to get an A. Though this largely applies to the humanities classes that rely largely on essay-based prompts to assess students making such changes could change the education system as a whole and for the better.
ChatGPT still generates terror in some ways, such as knowing that such AI could make some jobs extinct, specifically journalists and programmers. As scary as that is, it become increasingly important to remember where humanity’s own strengths lie, and to know that the way forward is by growing alongside the leaps we make within the technological field. For every skill that is diminished, such as being able to remember phone numbers, we must develop a new skill. Working in conjunction with technologic advancement is the only way to move towards a future in which we do not rely on technology.