A 30+ tech industry veteran and CEO on the connection between relevancy in education and integrity in work
AI writing is as exciting as it is alarming. Algorithms generating cogent, humanlike text makes me excited to be in tech and a little worried about being in education.
I don’t worry about the technology so much as the conversation and articles about ChatGPT’s impact on ethics as students use it to cheat. Many teachers are already reporting that their students are using ChatGPT on their assignments.
Bridging school to career, educators worry that some students leave school unprepared for this tech revolution while industry professionals worry about finding personnel who can use AI writing.
Some kinds of writing simply may not be needed in the future. For years, newspapers have relied on algorithms to report baseball game statistics – a simple retelling of facts. Instead of a human interpreting the game, an algorithm does the job and frees up the reporter to pursue other more meaningful work. Teaching this type of relay-the-facts writing may be a dead end now, freeing teachers to teach more creative, analytical, and contextual writing.
ChatGPT can also flip the classroom. Students fact-find and research at home – perhaps using ChatGPT – and write their essays in the classroom. Teachers are already trying out new models like this and have been for years.
Turn the lens to graduation. In industry, we need people who have learned globally applicable skills, such as asking the right questions and knowing where to look for information. Asking ChatGPT the right way to get what you need is going to be an important skill.
Next is efficiency. In industry, we need people able to iterate on past successes. Programmers comb through existing code to improve it to fit a new need. Civil engineers look at previous designs to inspire new solutions. In all of these situations, the creator is revising and respecting another’s work. Students can use AI in their own writing for endless practice in this regard.
The point is that AI and education are not opponents and for career preparation, there are several ways to rethink AI writing with education rather than against it.
Get Familiar with ChatGPT
First, start using ChatGPT. See how it returns predictable answers to simple questions. Notice that it can be asked to write like a fifth-grader or to take a particular perspective. Notice the cadence and the word choices. Pay close attention to how it uses facts; they may not be accurate.
Recognize that AI Writing has no personal experiences
I asked ChatGPT to write an article about the connection between relevancy and integrity in education from the perspective of a 30-year technology veteran like myself. It generated a plausible yet predictable article, but it couldn’t stream together my personal experiences as a school governor or as a CEO. It certainly didn’t have my experiences as a parent.
Recognize that AI Writing will improve
If you started teaching when Wikipedia came into vogue, you have experienced technology disruption. We first feared Wikipedia as the end to fact-finding but have since worked it into instruction. Consider AI writing in the same light. Unlike Wikipedia, however, AI writing will continue to improve. For that reason alone, it behooves us to start teaching with it now.
Remember that technology to recognize AI writing will also improve. We are in a similar spot as the watermarking efforts to protect music from unfettered copying and distribution.
Start using AI writing tools in the classroom
Start teaching students how to use AI writing now while simultaneously honing your own skills. Business leaders are already looking for ways to increase efficiency using this technology. It is a fair bet that these skills will eventually work their way into tech and academic standards. Yet, that process will not move quickly enough to keep pace with the growing number of uses and varied applications. We’ll be able to better make these decisions if teachers everywhere have experience with what is working and what is not.
About the Author:
Al Kingsley is an author, the CEO of NetSupport, Chair of a Multi-Academy Trust in the UK, Education Author and co-chair of Workstream 5 at the Foundation for Educational Development, whose mandate is to develop a framework for long-term vision and sustainable planning for education in England. He travels the world, speaking about and studying education. Al’s latest book is My School Governance Handbook. @AlKingsley_Edu.