AI has gone mainstream! Developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022, ChatGPT is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate text. GPT is an acronym for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, one of a family of language models trained on a large body of text data.
ChatGPT gathers large amounts of data from the internet to create human-like responses on demand. With the arrival of algorithm-generated writing, you can ask it almost anything. ChatGPT quickly garnered attention for its detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge, with the ability to answer just about any question in paragraph form.
ChatGPT is unique because it interacts in a conversational way, similar to how people write and speak. Users simply type questions or commands into the text box. Your requests can be as basic or elaborate as you can imagine. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, challenge incorrect premises, reject inappropriate requests, and even admit mistakes.
ChatGPT has both good and bad points. Here are some pros and cons…
ChatGPT can be used for various tasks such as answering questions, writing essays and stories, generating computer code, solving math problems, making music, and much more. For example, you could ask it to give you a recipe based on your favorite foods, or suggest party ideas for a certain age group and occasion.
You can use ChatGPT to translate text from one language to another, and it works with quite a few languages. It also breaks down the phrase and tells you about each word, which is more than Google Translate will do for you.
If you’re stuck on a math problem and you’re looking for the answer, ChatGPT can help. It even shows its work, along with helpful explanations, so you can understand how to solve the problem yourself.
One area that ChatGPT really excels at is helping us understand difficult ideas. You can ask it to summarize the major themes in a famous novel, describe how something works, or elucidate a scientific concept. You can even ask it to “explain it to me like I am five.”
The tool allows you to continue to refine the answer by adding more detailed instructions. You can even get creative with your requests. For example, you could ask it to “talk like a pirate.” ChatGPT saves a record of your conversations that you can view or continue at a later time.
In the months since its release, ChatGPT has been met with widespread criticism from educators, journalists, artists, ethicists, academics, and public advocates. Conservative commentators, along with original OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk, have accused ChatGPT of having a bias towards liberal perspectives, and producing responses in support of issues that have been objected to by conservatives.
To craft its responses, ChatGPT copies and remixes information found on the internet. It doesn’t tell you its sources or who created the original information. The tool is still being developed, so it can make mistakes, spread misinformation, and give inaccurate answers.
ChatGPT’s uneven factual accuracy has been identified as a significant drawback. In its current form, the chatbot is prone to giving incorrect information, despite its authoritative tone. There are still many cases where you ask it a question and it’ll give you a very impressive-sounding answer that’s just plain wrong.
The emergence of ChatGPT provoked widespread concern that it’s the ultimate tool for students cheating on homework – from finding answers for assignment questions, to writing papers, to solving equations. Many school districts are blocking ChatGPT on campus networks and school-issued devices. The concern is that students could use it to do their schoolwork for them.
Given what we’ve already said above about ChatGPT’s propensity for inaccuracy, students could also be turning in work with incorrect information. These AI tools are probability models, and so they don’t necessarily supply the absolute right answer to a question but the answer with the highest probability. Teachers are worried the program could affect students’ learning if they rely on it.
The chatbots represent a new headache not just for teachers but also for homework-help companies. ChatGPT could be bad for business for subscription services like Course Hero and online tutoring companies like Tutor.com. Having a free alternative that can give answers to questions could shrink the number of students who are willing to pay for homework help.
As the AI chat program becomes more readily available, companies will come out with tools they claim can detect when prose was written by a bot. Still, it will be important for students to know how to use ChatGPT appropriately and responsibly. If they’re not doing their own work – whether they’re copying off someone else’s paper, or using an essay writing service, or having a bot write their answers – it’s still cheating. If you’re using ChatGPT as a source, you should cite it and provide proper credit.
Some say that when people are able to get all their answers from ChatGPT, they may become dependent on it, get lazy, and stop developing their intelligence and thinking process. Then again, math teachers said the same thing when calculators were first invented. Like everything, the chatbot should be used in moderation. And please don’t use ChatGPT for personal communications, which some Vanderbilt University administrators learned the hard way!
Should Homeschoolers Use ChatGPT?
A lot of people are concerned about how ChatGPT might be used by students to cheat on assignments, but surprisingly, homeschool parents may find the chatbot to be quite useful. For example, it can produce multi-answer test questions in a matter of seconds.
The AI tool can also help you easily grade essays, and it even provides feedback on how a student’s work might be improved. For example, if you ask ChatGPT to grade an essay, and it assigns it the grade of “B+”, it will tell you why it gave the essay a B+ along with suggestions for improvements.
For students, in the future, doing research on the internet may look less like typing a question in a search bar and more like talking with a chatbot. Instead of giving a list of generic results that you have to sort through to find information pertinent to you, it can use personalized cues to tailor answers specifically to students based on the fact the algorithm knows you’re in a specific course.
In addition, ChatGPT collects personal information and user data. This info is used to improve the system and can be shared with third parties for things like advertising. Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 is illegal without parental consent.
Kids can use the chatbot with a parent or caregiver to get ideas about things they’re interested in, such as writing code or music. Families can explore the tool together and try prompts that are fun, inspiring, or helpful for generating written comments.
If your students use or want to use ChatGPT, explain the importance of checking the credibility of a source before trusting the information, and point out that ChatGPT does not give sources for its information. Also help them understand that plagiarism is when you take someone else’s work or ideas and present them as your own. Plagiarism is a serious academic violation. Using ChatGPT to do your schoolwork could be considered plagiarism or cheating.
10 Fun and Creative Uses for ChatGPT
There are plenty of ways in which homeschoolers might use ChatGPT as a family to be creative or get inspired. Here are some ideas to get started!
Ask ChatGPT to…
- create a list of outdoor activities for teens who like nature.
- write a play in the style of Shakespeare with parts for everyone.
- write a short story about a cowboy and his horse to read out loud.
- write a poem on any topic. You can even specify what type of poem, such as a sonnet, haiku, or limerick.
- write a song on any topic and it will come up with rhyming lyrics along with accompanying cords for the music!
- help build a setting and campaign for Dungeons and Dragons. It can even generate monster stat blocks if needed.
- answer a hypothetical consideration of what America might be like today if Britain had won the Revolutionary War.
- suggest a craft project to try using materials you have around the house.
- recommend a movie in the sci-fi genre that was made before 1980.
- generate a two-minute stand-up comedy routine suitable for kids.
Free e-book Offers ChatGPT Teaching Strategies
To help students develop their critical media skills in the era of AI writing tools, educators and researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst developed a series of critical media literacy guides for the free, open-access, online e-book “Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning.” The section titled “Teacher and Student Guide to Analyzing AI Writing Tools (like ChatGPT)” features prompts that ask students to investigate both the AI writing tool (e.g., Who owns the tool? Who designed the tool? Why was it made? How does it make money?) and the text it produces (e.g., How well does the text mimic human writing? How is information presented? How credible and reliable is the information?). All these questions and more focus students’ attention on both the content of the information and the system that is generating it.
In this blog post, they offer several tips for using AI tools like ChatGPT to teach and learn critical analysis and critical media literacy, including in civics or history where students can read political statements from politicians and advocacy groups and compare them to AI-generated statements.
It’s fascinating to see how AI is evolving and being integrated into our daily lives. Since ChatGPT is a new program, there’s a lot we don’t know about it. Like any new technology, it will take some time to figure out what the best uses for it are. ChatGPT is still in development, and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t always get facts correct. With that in mind, there are lots of fun and creative ways to use ChatGPT.
Send us your ChatGPT creations and we will publish them!
What are some ways in which you’ve used ChatGPT? Let us know in the comments.