I saw an article about “The College Essay is Dead.” It should come as no surprise to anyone that AI (artificial intelligence) is a thing and is doing some things that we ask students to do. “Last week, OpenAI released an advanced chatbot named ChatGPT that has spawned a new wave of marveling and hand-wringing“. How will education survive this wave of cheating??? As a math teacher I frequently hear the bemoaning of apps like Photomath allowing math students to cheat.
“Nobody is prepared for how AI will transform academia.”
Stephen Marche – The Atlantic
I was born in 1976. A dramatically different world than my kids were born into. PC’s did not exist at my birth. My kids do not know a world when they could not watch their shows on demand. However, I did not have to make my own paper. There was a point in history when this was a thing. When technology made it easier to buy paper than make it… we let that go. My dad was taught the algorithm for calculating square roots. The availability of 4 function calculators made that an obsolete skill by the time I was in school. I was never taught it.
There is a lot of talk about the need to teach students coding and future ready skills… yet at the same time handwringing that kids can’t show their work on plotting points on a parabola. We can not have it both ways. Either we need to look to the future or live in the past.
We can have two approaches to technology advances that make school practices obsolete. Embrace and change or complain about it. The technology is not going to go away and it is only going to get better. Pretending it doesn’t exist, banning it, shaking your fist to the sky… ineffective.
Brandon Dorman Reviews ChatGPT
I saw that the respected Brandon Dorman posted on his blog about the ChatGPT and how it handled math. Spoiler alert, it did a pretty good job but not perfect. However, I would argue… eventually it will get better! We can not just shrug it off saying “see, it got a wrong answer.” Eventually… this technology will be able to do it. So how does this impact education?
New Technology, New Attitude
Is our first response to new technology “kids will cheat?” Or is it a shift in perspective. What is now possible for students to do now that this technology exists. Playing whack a mole is not how I want to spend my day.
“Oftentimes, the response is to change the assessment so that students can not cheat with the new technology rather than to change the way we teach.”
-English Teacher Barton Keeler
What if we EMBRACE it? I put in my syllabus “Photomath is always allowed.” Okay, now that I have embraced this math “cheating” technology, how will that change the types of assignments I assign? What can I expect my students to do instead when they build off of the cheating technology rather than try to fight it?
Some Social Media Posts about ChatGPT
I know everyone is tired of ChatGPT output, but I found an interesting use case:
Translate post-modern academic writing into something you can read. pic.twitter.com/cP2DMpixhu
— Craig Palsson @ Market Power (@MarketPowerYT) December 6, 2022
Is AI Essays the End of Education
Adapt or die they say. No, AI Essays is not the end of education… but if students will be able to write good papers anytime they want using AI in the future… how critical is it that they are able to compete with this technology? What skills do they need to know, and these would be higher order or different skills, to thrive in a world that AI can write essays?