Impact of the Latest Technology on Education
By Geordie Mitchell, assistant head of school for institutional advancement
The assistant head of school for institutional advancement looks back on the role of technology in education with the introduction of ChatGPT.
I have always been interested in and fascinated by technology. As a young reader, I gravitated toward science fiction and always wondered when fiction would become a reality. I remember being fascinated with the new 4-function digital calculator my seventh-grade teacher introduced to our class. I marveled when we communicated with a computer at MIT from our Baltimore campus in senior statistics using a teletype machine (in 1978). At that time, this was the stuff of sci-fi. Fast forward not too far, and I was a young teacher teaching AP Computer Science the first year it was offered using computers with 64 kilobytes of memory and an early word processor to write my student comments. An interesting note is that we were told we could not use this new word processor technology because of fear from the older administrators that we would not individualize our comments.
Technology can improve the education of our students, but I am also aware of the challenges of these new technologies. The latest technology that is both fascinating and concerning is the new ChatGPT chatbot. This advanced artificial intelligence tool has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach education, but it also brings several unique challenges that we must be prepared to address.
One of the main challenges is ensuring that students continue to develop their critical thinking skills and the ability to solve problems independently. It will be important for educators to incorporate activities and assignments that require students to apply their knowledge and skills rather than simply relying on ChatGPT to provide the answers.
With ChatGPT's ability to generate human-like language, students may cheat on assignments or tests. Educators must be aware of this possibility and take steps to prevent it. This could include using plagiarism detection software or requiring students to show their work in a specific way.
As new technology emerges, educators have always worried that it will impede, not enhance, learning since it can do some work for our students. This concern and resultant challenges are not unique to ChatGPT. For example, when calculators were first introduced into classrooms, there were concerns about students becoming too reliant on them and losing mental math skills. Similarly, when spellcheckers became widely available, there were concerns about students becoming less proficient in spelling and grammar.
However, just as we have learned to use calculators and spell checkers effectively in education, we can also learn to use ChatGPT to enhance the learning experience. By understanding its potential and limitations, and taking steps to prevent cheating, we can harness the power of this technology to help our students succeed.
Author’s note: I used ChatGPT to generate much of this article other than the introductory paragraph. I used the prompt, “Write a newsletter article from the perspective of a school administrator talking about the challenges to educators of the new ChatbotGPT technology and compare that challenge to the earlier challenges faced by educators when calculators and spell checkers were introduced.” I submitted this request twice and got two different versions. I then combined the language I liked the best from the two versions and made some edits to create the following article.