There has been a lot in the news in the last few months about ChatGPT and related chatbot use in education, with some dramatic claims and counterclaims which can alarm. Artificial intelligence (AI) is artificial. It does not replace children’s intelligence! It makes things up, as it is designed to. But it can be very useful in modelling the use of written language in various ways for students. AI writing tools are software programs that use machine learning algorithms to analyse and improve written content. These tools can help students to identify grammatical errors, improve sentence structure, extend their vocabulary and train them to raise the overall quality of their writing.
In the last week our regular Year 6 Library sessions have included an introduction to the use of AI writing tools for school work. Students have learnt that current AI writing tools are deficient in 3 main areas: (1) content veracity; (2) logical sequencing of ideas; and (3) truthfulness of conclusions.[i] They have learnt that if a teacher allows them to use chatbot technology for a specified assignment, they must research books and online published works to verify facts and concepts, to learn to use appropriate terminology in accurate and precise ways, to analyse the logical development of ideas within what they submit, and to check the truthfulness of the conclusions they come to. If anything, using AI properly will underline the importance of traditional ways of learning, and provide students practise in analysing written sources of information and help develop their discernment in spotting fake propositions, and misapplied logic, and fake content. These are high-order conceptual skills, which AI of itself cannot teach, but using AI responsibly and under adult supervision can assist.
Though some parents may have concerns about the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom, our teachers will closely monitor the use of these tools and provide guidance to ensure that they are used appropriately at school. We encourage parents to talk to their children about this. After all, these are increasingly sophisticated tools and misuse needs to be guarded against.
We believe that this technology has the potential, used wisely, to not only improve students’ writing skills but also prepare them for the future job market, where proficiency in technology is becoming increasingly important.
Thank you for your continued support.
DUE DISCLOSURE: The chatbot TinyWow was used to provide an early draft of this article. Though it is mostly written by human hand, can you spot the few sentences in this article that were largely chatbot generated?
[i] The OpenAI (2023), GPT-4 Technical Report https://arxiv.org/pdf/2303.08774.pdf [accessed 28 March 2023] was the source of information about AI writing tools for this article.