ChatGPT has been around since November and has taken the internet by storm, but it’s still raising questions in Michigan classrooms.
Free artificial intelligence software can answer any prompt you can think of, from solving math equations to writing essays.
It has led some school districts, especially the New York City school system, to ban the use of ChatGPT on their networks and school facilities.
Some Michigan education experts also said they were concerned about the possibility of students misusing the software to cheat.
Wendy Zdeb, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, said using ChatGPT would go against the district’s academic fraud policy.
“Many school districts use firewalls to actively block access to software on school devices,” said Zdeb.
She said such measures would not require new policies, only protocol adaptations.
Teachers are aware of the software and its potential for misuse.
Crystal VanWaltham, an English teacher at Waverly High School in the Lansing area, uses in-class essays to avoid using ChatGPT and similar AI software.
“One way to avoid problems like plagiarism from the Internet is to have students write essays in class,” says VanWalsum.
For example, she assigned an essay about King Arthur in class and put essay prompts in ChatGPT ahead of time to see what the software would come up with.
“The response contained details that were not part of the story we read in class. I could have submitted something that contained… it wouldn’t have worked anyway,” VanWalsum said.
She said it can tell if a student has used software like ChatGPT.
“The AI-generated ones don’t have the original voices at all. They’re so flat.
“A lot of the sentence structure is the same throughout. There’s very little change in sentence structure. As you read, it doesn’t sound like the student who submitted it,” she said.
Blake Mazurek, an 8th grade U.S. history teacher at Grandville Middle School west of Grand Rapids, said his son introduced him to ChatGPT over the Thanksgiving holidays.
“Somehow we got into the tech conversation and he mentioned (ChatGPT) and told me what he knew at the time,” Mazurek said.
That conversation piqued his curiosity by leading him to investigate ChatGPT.
His 8th grade current affairs students were silent when asked if they knew anything about it.
“I’ve spoken to children from the current event and no one knew about it,” he said.
Few of his colleagues have heard of the new software, he said.
John VanWagoner, Superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools, was introduced to the software a few months ago at a meeting of the Future of Learning Council, an organization of Michigan’s 40 school districts and learning organizations. rice field.
He said the council brought up ChatGPT to show what it can do.
“It was mind-blowing. It’s a game changer when it comes to the ability to process data and knowledge into writing,” said VanWagoner.
After the initial introduction, VanWagoner showed ChatGPT to staff and came up with various tasks and prompts that the AI software would solve.
“It’s amazing what AI is capable of doing that work,” he said.
School officials in Michigan are aware of ChatGPT and say its use in the classroom has had a positive effect.
Phil Jankowski, superintendent of Anchor Bay School in St. Clair County, said he was not concerned about students using the software to plagiarize.
He said anti-plagiarism software used by school districts can detect whether ChatGPT has been used to write an essay.
“Between working in the classroom and using these applications, I believe we can compete with a lot of that,” he said.
He said he tried the software and found it not very good for writing essays.
ChatGPT “isn’t particularly great yet, but it opens a window to what the future might look like,” said Jankowski.
He said he is optimistic about the future of AI in the classroom.
“Artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT is something that students will need to use and will face in the future. ‘ he said.
Samuel Blatchford is a journalism student at Michigan State University.