Why ChatGPT may be education’s biggest game-changer

Why ChatGPT may be education’s biggest game-changer

Recently, several state and territory education systems have moved to ban the controversial AI chatbot ChatGPT, worried that its ability to generate quick and human-like responses could upend attempts to tackle cheating and improve critical thinking and creativity.

However, states like Victoria and South Australia are taking a wait and see approach, allowing students to access the technology except for online exams and other tests.

Amid these discussions, one prominent educator is celebrating the technology’s potential to transform teaching and learning in school into something better.

Jen McVeity is the author of 20 books and the founder of Seven Steps to Writing Success, which trains more than 4,000 teachers a year in how to improve students’ writing outcomes through its engaging formula. Last year, Seven Steps was named one of the top service providers in the Australian education market and the Australian Primary Publisher of the Year.

“ChatGPT has bought us one of the most exciting times for writing in our century,” McVeity told The Educator

“Released in late November, ChatGPT remains in the beginning stages, but is going to reach trillions of data sets now so many people are using it.”

“The COVID pandemic started to change education radically and teachers showed their true grit to go to flipped learning, student led engagement and remote learning. However, ChatGPT will create an even bigger education game changer.”

The first reaction in education circles is about assessment. McVeity said she has been feeding her old NAPLAN writing samples into ChatGPT’s narrative genre to see what feedback it gives.

“ChatGPT can assess a narrative piece of writing by evaluating its coherence and structure. It can also provide feedback on the use of descriptive language, character development and plot. Finally, it can accurately check the basic secretarial side of writing such as spelling, grammar and punctuation. There are huge possibilities for the AI tool to help teachers save teaching and marking time - they would certainly welcome that!”

However, McVeity noted that ChatGPT cannot provide any in-depth feedback on originality, voice or creativity, which are key aspects of narrative writing.  “It is important to use this tool as a supplement to human assessment, rather than a replacement. This is pretty much the same problem the NAPLAN marking criteria has,” she said.

“In fact, ChatGPT itself warns against teachers using it for assessment without human guidance,” she said.

“ChatGPT is certainly going to challenge the role of the essay as an assessment tool. I hope it will empower schools to use other ways of testing, and more formative ways, including verbal discussions, group presentations, web pages, slide decks, You Tube presentations and even debates.”

McVeity recalled how she once set a Year 10 class a debate topic: ‘McBeth would never have killed Duncan the king if his wife had not urged him on.’

“The depth of research and knowledge those students did to prove their point, whilst working as two teams was enormous,” she said.

“It was so much more powerful and engaging than a written essay. ChatGPT does have fantastic potential to get schools into more collaborative ways of learning and assessing.”