Preparing Our Children for AI: The Importance of ChatGPT in Schools
With the popularity of ChatGPT skyrocketing because of its seemingly extraordinary ability to “understand” our questions and provide compelling answers, schools have already started to ban it . However, I highly disagree with this. I think this is the best time to introduce AI to students and in schools through ChatGPT - BUT not to cheat on exams and homework, INSTEAD to better understand Artificial Intelligence (AI) and everything that comes with it.
How should schools introduce ChatGPT?
Understand How ChatGPT and AI Work
AI should not be a blackbox to students. In school, teachers should enhance the students’ understanding of how ChatGPT and AI work. By introducing them to ChatGPT’s inner workings, they’ll have a better appreciation of AI and its nuances.
Some productive explorations classrooms can do:
- Understand how ChatGPT and AI models work at a high level. For instance, for ChatGPT to generate human-like responses, explain that it was trained on a massive dataset of diverse text sources. Understand the concepts behind Natural Language Processing (NLP).
- Discuss recent advancements in AI and how they’re affecting various industries, such as healthcare, finance, literature and art. Discuss interesting things such as how AI is being used in improving medical diagnoses, in making services more accessible, and reducing carbon emissions. These info would likely pique the interest of students, and may inspire some to pursue this field.
Develop Critical Thinking Skills with ChatGPT
- Perform exercises on ChatGPT with your students. Let them ask safe questions and converse with ChatGPT. Make them analyze and critique the answers they get. And most importantly, let them share and discuss their analyses with the class. Students will develop their critical thinking skills as they analyze, evaluate, and discuss the responses they receive.
- Help them learn how to spot answers that seem misleading or not factual. Discuss why it’s important to be able to spot these errors, and to not blindly accept all answers. This will help our children identify potential misinformation and hopefully become more resilient to it.
Explore the Potential Impacts of ChatGPT and AI
- Help students explore how they see ChatGPT and AI being used to positively impact our lives. Discussions like these encourage creativity and innovative thinking.
- Help students explore how they see ChatGPT and AI being exploited by bad actors and used maliciously. Help them brainstorm solutions that can potentially combat this. Use this opportunity to introduce the concept and importance of “ethical technology”.
Future with ChatGPT and AI
Encourage students to think forward to the near and far future when AI is all around us.
- What are good questions they should start asking now? Let them come up with their own thought-provoking and creative questions. Examples: Will AI take over the world? How will it affect present jobs? What skills should students focus on developing to be prepared?
- Let students explore and imagine what AI’s potential unintended consequences and unforeseen effects could be. In social media for example, we did not foresee that it would become a channel for individuals to develop their brand and share it to the world. But we also did not foresee that social media could adversely affect our children’s mental health. By “forcing” them to look into their near and far future, it encourages students to think more expansively, become reflective, learn to form their visions, and be involved in their future (at least theoretically).
These are just some examples of how schools can expose students to ChatGPT in positive and educational ways. Instead of limiting their exposure to it, use it as an opportunity to improve our children’s knowledge and thinking skills.
It is important to see that limiting students’ exposure to ChatGPT and AI in schools does not make them any less curious about it. They will find ways to explore and experiment with ChatGPT and AI, and possibly try to get information from other sources — and we do not want them resorting to uninformed or malicious sources.
A lot of the technologies that emerged in the recent decades caught us by surprise by how greatly they impacted our lives, specially our children. For their unintended consequences, we are just now doing a lot of catch-up work to address these issues. Let’s not repeat that with something as powerful as AI or any emerging technology. Schools are a great venue because teachers can safely monitor and guide these explorations and discussions. Let’s get our children well-informed and well-equipped about AI and new technologies as early as possible so that they know how to navigate it more responsibly. In the process, we end up developing more resilient children and potential great future leaders.
Important note: Teachers must first do proper research on AI and ChatGPT or any AI app in order for them to effectively and safely facilitate these discussions with their students.
As of today, Google just announced their version of ChatGPT called “Bard”, and Microsoft will soon announce a similar AI-based capability. Reference: Google & Microsoft gearing up for AI chatbot market battle