February 28, 2023

ChatGPT: Artificial Intelligence on the Doorstep of College Institutions

This article is a translation of a text first published in Eductive’s French edition.

At the end of November 2022, a new artificial intelligence tool, ChatGPT (developed by Open AI), became publicly available. The latter is at the heart of several discussions among pedagogical staff. Opinions are divided.

Artificial intelligence has the ability to change our way of thinking about education. It will lead to a change in our practices.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a chatbot that can answer simple or complex questions asked by a human via a chat module.

The app creates a response according to the information provided upon its creation. It generates output based, among others, on information from the internet, but is not connected to it to produce up-to-date responses.

The tool is constantly evolving to improve itself. The improvements are based on human feedback. Therefore, the more feedback the platform will get from its users, the more the technical and informational quality will be optimized. For instance, the robot was updated and is now less likely to refuse to answer questions caused by inadequately formulated questions according to the model parameters. It now has the ability to stop generating responses when the answer is inaccurate. You can also consult your past conservation history to continue it later.

Conversation with ChatGPT illustrating a non-response.

Conversation with ChatGPT illustrating a non-response.

Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. ChatGPT writes: “I'm sorry, I do not have updated information on the use of technology in Quebec schools and their corresponding references as my latest knowledge update is from 2021. It is important to consult government sources and recent studies to have updated and reliable information. I recommend consulting websites and the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), or the Agence d'évaluation de l'enseignement et des apprentissages to have updated information on the use of technology in Quebec schools.”

Another conversation with ChatGPT illustrating a non-response.

We can observe that, in the 2nd conversation captured above, there is a false statement. ChatGPT mentions the Agence d’évaluation de l’enseignement et des apprentissages. But, in fact, this agency does not exist. When we ask ChatGPT to validate its sources, it apologizes for giving an incorrect answer and provides the name of a new organism in France (while the initial question was about schools in Quebec).

To get the best results, the questions must include details, a specific context. Sometimes, it is necessary to ask many sub-questions and chat with the robot to reach a satisfactory response.

ChatGPT is not the only existing text generator tool. Its predecessor GPT-3 and Brainly are some other examples. In addition, the Photomath gives students solutions to mathematical equations and provides a step-by-step explanation.

How will ChatGPT impact education?

Knowing that we cannot completely ban access to ChatGPT, we need to find ways to integrate it into our teaching practices. There is a lot to be said about this topic, but here is some food for thought. Share your thoughts on it in the comments below!

Improvement of information literacy skills

ChatGPT can be useful to do research.

Since it operates essentially the same way as a search engine, students could use it as a facilitator when searching for information that they cannot find with the usual search engines.

Moreover, with ChatGPT, we do not need to go through many readings to find possible answers, since it replies directly to the questions asked.

It might be tempting for students to use the full text generated by ChatGPT and pretend it is their original work. However, this is considered plagiarism. To avoid this, students have to cite ChatGPT as the author, or use the text as a starting point and rephrase the robot’s words. As a teacher, it might be interesting to take a moment with your students to explain the different ways to use ChatGPT in your course.

Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. I ask: “If I ask an AI like ChatGPT to write me a text, how do I write the source in APA format?” ChatGPT answers: “To cite a text written by an AI like ChatGPT in APA format, you can use the following structure: AI name (ChatGPT) Date of text generation (e.g. "2021-01-01") Text title (if any) Source of the AI (e.g. "OpenAI") Example: ChatGPT (2021-01-01). "Text Title" Source: OpenAI.” I reply by asking: “And in APA 7?”. ChatGPT answers: “Using the latest version of the APA style (7th edition) to cite a text written by an AI like ChatGPT, you can use the following structure: AI name (ChatGPT) Date of text generation (e.g. "2021-01-01") Text title (if any) Source of the AI (e.g. "OpenAI") Example: ChatGPT. (2021-01-01). Text Title. OpenAI. Note that for works created by computers or machines, it is not necessary to include initials in the author's name.”

Conversation with ChatGPT on the referencing of its own texts.

It is important to note that, in this example, ChatGPT indicates it is required to cite following the steps for the APA and APA7 models, but it does not propose the correct way to integrate the date. Therefore, analysis and judgment must be exercised for all information provided by the tool…. At least, for now!

Despite the fact that ChatGPT can answer our questions, it cannot provide sources when requested. The references provided are fictional. It can state some URL links, but these links are non-functional or will take you to uninteresting pages, whatever it might say.

Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. I ask: “Could you give me two references (texts to read) on the SAMR model?”. ChatGPT answers: “Yes, here are two references on the SAMR model: "The SAMR Model: A Critical Analysis" by Mark Dunford "Transforming Education through Technology: Using the SAMR Model to Enhance Teaching and Learning" by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura”. I respond: “I can't find this source on the Internet. Does it exist?”. ChatGPT answers: “I apologize, it seems that I made a mistake in my references. "The SAMR Model: A Critical Analysis" by Mark Dunford is not a existing text. I recommend you to consult the following sources for information on the SAMR model: "The SAMR Model for Evaluating Technology in Education" by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, is an article that details the SAMR model and how it can be used to evaluate the use of technology in education. It also explains the four levels of the model and gives concrete examples of its application. "Using the SAMR Model to Enhance Teaching and Learning" by Dr. Matt Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra is an article that describes how to use the SAMR model to improve teaching and learning using educational technology. It also explains the advantages and limitations of using the model”. I ask: “Could you give me the URL links, I can't find them...” ChatGPT answers: “I'm sorry for the confusion, it seems that the articles I mentioned are not available online, they may be published in specific journals or conferences that require paid access. However, there are many other resources available on the SAMR model, here are some links to articles and websites that can help you learn more about the subject: The official SAMR model website: An article in EdTech Magazine on using the SAMR model:”.

Conversation with ChatGPT on the search for sources on a topic.

As teachers, more than ever, we have to promote critical thinking skills in students and work towards developing their digital literacy skills. ChatGPT can make content and format errors in its answers: it is not 100% reliable. ChatGPT can be considered as a web search tool, such as Google or Bing. Students must continue to triangulate information to validate the source. The teacher’s role is essential in this process.

To support student success

ChatGPT could help students as a feedback generator. Students could share their text and ask for help on ways to improve it. Each student can evaluate the proposed changes and rewrite the text if necessary.

Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. I ask: “I would like you to give me advice on how to improve this text: Digital pollution is the pollution caused by new technologies. It can be caused by the manufacture of devices, which causes chemical contamination. The rapid obsolescence of our devices generates a lot of electronic waste. On the other hand, digital pollution can be caused by data consumption (downloading, watching videos, etc.) which results in greenhouse gas emissions. Although the largest percentage of digital pollution is related to the manufacture of devices, we can have a small impact on the remaining percentage by limiting our data consumption.” ChatGPT answers: “Here are some tips to improve your text on digital pollution: Use specific technical terms to describe the different types of digital pollution. For example, to describe the chemical contamination caused by the manufacture of devices, you could use terms such as "chemical waste", "air and water pollution", or "heavy metal waste". Use concrete examples to illustrate the different types of digital pollution. For example, you could mention brands or companies that have been criticized for their environmental impact, or give statistics on the amount of electronic waste produced each year. Explain the consequences of digital pollution on the environment and health.” I respond: “I meant in the phrasing of the sentences. Do you understand the paragraph?” ChatGPT answers: “Yes, I understand the paragraph you wrote. To improve the phrasing of the sentences in your text on digital pollution, here are some tips: 1. Use shorter and more direct sentences. For example, instead of saying "Digital pollution is the pollution caused by new technologies", you could say "Digital pollution is caused by modern technologies". 2. Use action verbs to make your sentences more dynamic. For example, instead of saying "it can be caused by the manufacture of devices", you could say "it is caused by the manufacture of devices". 3. Use logical connectors to link your ideas. For example, you could use words like "furthermore", "in addition", or "moreover" to link your sentences and reinforce the logic of your argument. 4. Pay attention to subject-verb agreement and punctuation to make your text clearer. I hope these tips will be useful. Don't hesitate to ask me other questions if you need help improving your text.”

Conversation with ChatGPT as a feedback generator on a text.

The tool can also be used as a review virtual assistant before an evaluation. When students study for an exam and have questions, ChatGPT can answer them quickly and in detail. It can also generate summaries on different subjects that can be used as a checklist to review the material. (Obviously, students have to validate that the information provided by the robot matches the information seen in class!)

Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. I ask: “Could you tell me the important points to remember about solids?” ChatGPT answers: “Here are the important points to remember about solids: 1. Solids have a defined shape and a fixed volume. 2. Solids have a density that is generally constant throughout the body. 3. Solids can have mechanical properties such as resistance to compression, resistance to tension, and resistance to bending. 4. Solids can have optical properties such as reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light. 5. Solids can have thermal properties such as thermal conductivity and specific heat. 5. Solids can have electrical properties such as electrical conductivity and permittivity. 6. Solids can be classified into different categories based on their properties, such as crystalline solids and amorphous solids. 7. Solids can undergo phase changes such as melting, solidification, and sublimation. 8. It is important to note that these properties depend on the solid's internal structure, chemical composition, and temperature.”

Conversation with ChatGPT as a review assistant on a concept.

A way to bring innovation

ChatGPT is a great way to innovate your teaching practices.

Driving us to build on in-depth learning

If we wish to create in-depth learning and improve student retention, we need to move towards creation, evaluation, and analysis skills (Bloom’s taxonomy), as well as co-creativity skills using digital tools [in French].

ChatGPT can be useful to acquire knowledge or develop a basic understanding on a topic, but such activities lead to more surface learning. The core activities carried out by ChatGPT can therefore be a gateway to richer learning experiences such as:

  • problem-solving tasks
  • collaborative tasks
  • reflexive journal writing
  • portfolio building
  • etc.

These activities cannot be done by ChatGPT. If you ask the students to complete a reflexive journal following experimentation, ChatGPT cannot do it for them.

Integrating ChatGPT in your classroom

Why not use Chat GPT as a learning tool? Competencies could be developed in a controlled environment. Here are 2 examples of the integration of this tool in class:

  • During a brainstorming session in teams, ChatGPT could be used as a teammate. It could adjust and enrich ideas expressed by the team. The opposite could also work: we ask the tool to generate ideas, and the team has to criticize them according to the objective of the activity.
  • You can ask ChatGPT to provide a problem-solving task to be analyzed on a chosen topic. In teams, the students must address the problem by integrating the concepts seen in class. Their solution could be shared with the robot in order to get its feedback.
Screenshot of a conversation with ChatGPT. I ask: “Can you give me a concrete and problematic situation that teachers may face?” ChatGPT answers: “Here is a concrete and problematic situation that teachers may face: A teacher in a high school class has a very heterogeneous group of students. Some students are very high-performing and already have a good knowledge of mathematics, while others have learning difficulties and need more attention and help to understand mathematical concepts. The teacher has to find a way to meet the needs of all students at the same time, which can be challenging.”

Conversation with ChatGPT asking for the creation of a problem-solving situation. ChatGPT explains a concrete and problematic situation. The students could use it to find related solutions.

Reviewing assessment

ChatGPT is giving us the opportunity to bring a fresh breeze to our assessments. Just like the teaching approaches, the types of assessment can highlight in-depth learning such as:

  • projects
  • portfolios
  • practicums
  • etc.

Building a reflexive portfolio after completing some hands-on activities is a way to observe more in-depth learning. This way, only the student can reinvest the information seen in class and create links with the practice itself. ChatGPT could obviously help with the writing, but it could not generate the ideas.

The evaluation format can also be adapted. For instance, an oral presentation can replace a written text. Take-home tests and exams could also include more complex and open questions since they are more difficult to be automated by the tool. If the objective of the evaluation is knowledge acquisition, a paper-based exam is still a possibility.

Aspects deserving particular attention

ChatGPT collects data from the interactions to improve system accuracy. This information is indicated when creating an account. It may be relevant to discuss the impact of sensitive data sharing on the webwith the students.

Some people might feel concerned about the possible replacement of teachers by artificial intelligence (AI). Any new technology can instill fear at the very beginning. I do not believe AI will ever be able to replace us. But we might have to rethink our pedagogical practices and the way we perceive our role as teachers. We cannot stop technology, so we must adapt our teaching practices to the “real world.” There is always a solution to integrate digital tools while preserving a pedagogical alignment.

I encourage you to try the platform to discover its positive aspects and its limits. However, patience is needed, since the tool is often inaccessible due to a large number of simultaneous connections, which deactivates it.

Could the advent of this technology simply be a new way to optimize our teaching practices?

To learn more about ChatGPT

Abram, S. (2023). A Teacher’s Prompt Guide to ChatGPT: aligned with “What Works Best.

Warner, J. (2023). How About We Put Learning at the Center? Inside Higher Ed.

Vanian, J. (2022). Why tech insiders are so excited about ChatGPT, a chatbot that answers questions and writes essays. CNBC.

Heikkilä, M. (2022). How to spot AI-generated text. MIT Technology Review

Hruska, N. (2022). An Artificial Intelligence Chatbot Tells Us What’s Next For Training, Education, And Research. The AI blog.

Palmer Media. (2022). ChatGPT and the Future of Education with Nancy our Virtual Cohost. . YouTube.

Keeler, A. (2022). Photomath is not cheating. Teacher Tech.

About the author

Lisa-Marie Gauthier

Lisa-Marie is a technopedagogical advisor and holds a master’s degree in Educational Technology from Université Laval. Her fields of interest include educational design and the discovery of new technological tools. She also worked for 5 years in the field of elementary and preschool education.

Notify of

0 Commentaires
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments