If you happen to follow Philip Kerr’s blog, you will know that he has recently published this post called AI and Teacher Training where he talks about ChatGPT. In short, ChatGPT is a new AI chatbot that is trained using machine-learning algorithms and can understand open-ended queries. Not only does it comprehend orders, but it also understands the language – even Czech (my native language).
Well, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I, as an English teacher, find this tool truly fascinating. Not only can ChatGPT answer questions, but it can also write essays. This could come in handy in many situations in the classroom. For example, we can use the tool to train our students to give detailed answers when answering questions during exams. Also, ChatGPT could be used as a research tool for the students to find suitable material for their essays and presentations. And finally, it may be very useful for the teachers themselves if, for instance, they need another source to prepare for their lectures, conferences, webinars, etc.
What I also like about ChatGPT is that it remembers what the user said earlier in the conversation but most importantly, it is trained to decline inappropriate requests, so it should be relatively safe in the classroom.
Plus, it can definitely be fun to use. Alternatively, you can teach students how to diplomatically avoid answering odd questions, how to be polite when answering sensitive questions, etc. Here’s an example.
I’m not saying that this is something you can’t do with a simple Google search, but the fact that you can actually see the bot typing the answers in real time, so to speak, is fascinating indeed. Also, if you type How old am I into the Google search box, you’ll never get a genuine-like answer, such as the one from the bot. Well, I admit it may even appear scary to some, especially if you’re a fan of sci-fi movies related to the topic of AI. 🙂
One way or another, we should be careful and warn our students about ChatGPT’s limitations. Some argue that the biggest problem with ChatGPT is it often fails at accuracy. It sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. Users have discovered that ChatGPT makes up historical and biographical data. Also, it can generate discriminatory results. So, we teachers need to constantly encourage our students to verify their search results. This, in fact, can be a useful skill to learn and practise anyway. Our students should be aware of the fact that these days, they should not trust anything they come across on the internet unless they check different sources and look at the information from various angles.
All in all, if nothing else, ChatGPT can be a great tool for students to practise asking good questions. I’m deliberately not saying ‘correct’ questions because the bot will provide answers to wrongly formed questions as well, which may not detrimental after all, especially if our aim is to focus on the content and some sort of ‘communication’ instead of grammatical accuracy.
Anyway, below are some of the questions I asked when I first played with ChatGPT and the answers I received. You can see for yourselves how useful or ‘accurate’ they are. 😉
What is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is a question that has puzzled people for centuries, and there are many different answers to this question depending on one’s beliefs, values, and personal experiences. Some people believe that the meaning of life is to seek happiness, fulfilment, or purpose, while others believe that the meaning of life is subjective and can vary from person to person. Others may believe that the meaning of life is to serve a higher power or to contribute to the greater good of society. Ultimately, the meaning of life is a deeply personal and philosophical question, and the answer will likely be different for everyone.
What is love?
Love is a complex mix of emotions, behaviours, and beliefs associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person. It can also include deep romantic or sexual attraction. Love can be experienced in many different forms, such as the love between family members, friends, and romantic partners. It can also be described as an action or a choice to care for and support another person. Some people believe that love is an important part of a happy and fulfilling life and that it is a fundamental human need. Others may view love as a mysterious or elusive concept. Ultimately, the meaning and experience of love can vary greatly from person to person.
Is there life after death?
The concept of life after death is a belief that has been held by many different cultures and belief systems throughout history. Some people believe that the soul or spirit lives on after the body dies, while others do not believe in an afterlife. There is no scientific evidence that proves or disproves the existence of an afterlife, and it is ultimately a matter of belief and faith. Beliefs about the afterlife can vary greatly from person to person and can be influenced by cultural, religious, and personal experiences. It is important to respect the beliefs of others and to recognize that people have the right to hold their own beliefs and opinions on this topic.
4 thoughts on “AI in the classroom?”
Hi Hana, first of all, let me digress and say that when I clicked through to the blog one of the first things I saw was your most read posts list and there was the “Burnout syndrome of the TEFL community” post, so I had to go and reread that – I remember reading it when you first wrote it and was surprised to see this was in 2017! Anyway, I wonder what you think today – have new bloggers taken over from people who used to be active? I’ve not followed many new people so my WP feed is not busy at all – well, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that people move on.
But I wanted to comment on this post as well. Since people started tweeting about ChatGPT I’ve been thinking how sorry I am I chose this year to quit teaching my writing skills course because it would’ve been the perfect setting to experiment with AI. I’m sure some students would use it to submit work that isn’t their own and I haven’t yet thought about what I might do to prevent that.
I’ve been thinking about whether *I* could use it to save time in the way that we imagine students will immediately do. For instance, could I ask ChatGPT to comment on your post instead of writing a comment myself? I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but it seems to me that if I wanted to use it that way for anything specific (for instance, at work), I would need to give it a lot more information than just a short prompt.
Anyway, there’s talk on Twitter of organizing a conference which would take a closer look at how AI could be used in ELT, and I’m sure that will be interesting.
Happy holidays and all the best in the new year! I haven’t read all of your October/November posts – still need to do that!
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Thanks for stopping by and rereading one of my older posts. 🙂 Time flies, doesn’t it? The post you are referring to is 5 years old – I can’t believe it myself. Well, it is somewhat bittersweet to realize that many of the people who once used to be active on WP are dormant these days. However, that’s life and as you put it, people have probably moved on. Personally, I have also been publishing less and less recently, even though from time to time I get inspired and spurt out a few posts.
As far as ChatGPT is concerned, I haven’t used it much yet, but I think I see its potential in the classroom. I have told my students about it and they were impressed, especially the younger ones. And yes, I feel you when you talk about the potential danger of plagiarism, but maybe there are ways to detect and prevent it easily? I still have to look into it myself.
Haha, I’d like to see how you could use ChatGPT to comment on my post. I would probably spot the difference, because your style of writing is unique and personal. But who knows? 😉
Enjoy the holiday break and take care! 🙂
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