AI ChatGPT writes a new chapter for education


Sydney Lammey

ChatGPT’s homepage encourages viewers to join them in shaping the future of technology

Sydney Lammey, News Director

ChatGPT, a Chatbot launched by the artificial intelligence research laboratory, OpenAI, in November 2022, has become a prominent discussion between teachers and students.

OpenAI states on its website that ChatGPT is a model which interacts conversationally. The primary use of ChatGPT is to create human-like interactions, answer questions, and assist with tasks such as emails and essays. 

The main discussions between educators has regarded potential academic dishonesty from students. With a free essay writer at their fingertips, plagiarism may occur. 

The issue is basically: Do teachers know their students?

— Dan Rypma

Stacy Ruffer, an English teacher at Fossil Ridge High School, is not worried about his students using ChatGPT for plagiarism.

“I’m hoping that kids will use it more as a way to push their learning as opposed to just a plagiarism source,” Ruffer says. “I’m not too concerned about it for plagiarism because I think what will happen is a couple kids will do it and most teachers use some sort of plagiarism checker anyway.” 

Ruffer believes that the way students will use online essay writers like ChatGPT will be similar to the way Wikipedia is used. 

“I am worried about kids being lazy and just saying, ‘What’s the plot of Hamlet?’ and it just spits it out. But that’s not really any different from what we already have with Wikipedia or something,” Ruffer says. 

Educators have also noted that the relationship between teachers and their students could impact a student’s willingness to cheat on essay assignments. 

Dan Rypma, a social studies teacher at Fossil Ridge High School, thinks that one solution to AI plagiarism is to educate students on the purpose of writing. 

“I[Preventing plagarism] starts with basic education about what the purpose of writing is in the class. It starts with basic respect for the work the teacher is doing, and the work that the class is doing,” Rypma says. 

Rypma is not worried about AI affecting his classroom. Some teachers are even excited about new advancements in AI technology.

“The issue is basically: Do teachers know their students?” Rympa adds.

Fossil Ridge Television production and former English teacher Brendon Gallagher is intrigued by ChatGPT. 

“It is both phenomenal and how good it is, but also not as good as people are scared that it is,” Gallagher says. “The best metaphor I’ve heard is basically: When the calculator was invented, math teachers wanted to ban it from their classrooms because kids wouldn’t be computing things, but now we’re in a world where calculators are everywhere.”

To Gallagher, writing is about how students can develop their thinking skills.

“A lot of times in an English class, when I ask students to write an essay about something, what I’m really asking is for them to articulate their thinking around a topic,” says Gallagher.

Todd Forkner, a Fossil Ridge English teacher, believes students may see a shortcut in ChatGPT.

When talking about plagiarism, Forkner has strong feelings.

“It’s unethical,” Forkner says. “But it also denies students an opportunity to practice and improve their writing and their communication skills.”

Forkner also agrees that writing is about developing students’ critical thinking skills. 

“We select subject matter like Language Arts, Math, History, and there’s a certain amount of knowledge that society has decided it’s important for students to know,” Forkner says.  “I think the most important thing that we do in schools is to give [students] problems to solve and then for you to activate your critical thinking skill, your higher order thinking, in order to try to solve those different problems.”

Poudre School District Teaching and learning facilitator Jennifer Putnam believes ChatGPT could be used as a learning tool inside the classroom.

“I’m inspired by how [educators think] about it based on some articles they’re posting online,” says Putnam. “Like how will it be used as a tool? What are the disadvantages it brings to teaching and learning? How does it change the way we teach and think about writing?”

Putnam also values teacher and student relationships when it comes to writing.

“It’s another reminder of knowing your students, their writing voice, and feedback that you’re giving them,” Putnam says.

ChatGPT can change how writing classes function for the better or worse. Discussions between educators and students will continue as AI writing technology progresses.