Chat GPT AI is now available to the public. As a writing teacher, what is your first reaction? Are you for it or against it? How will you know if a writing paper was created using artificial intelligence or if it was penned by your student?
First, let’s talk about Chat GPT and what it is and what it can do.
Chat GPT is a program developed by OpenAI that is able to create human sounding text. You may have seen or read reports about this technology. It’s actually quite remarkable. As with all new things tech-related that can make schoolwork easier, it’s practically a guarantee your students will be using AI for their homework.
At the time of my writing this blog, it can carry on a fairly comprehensive conversation, and can write a paper with basic facts. But there are a few things missing.
What Can Chat GPT Do?
It can do your homework for you. According to this article by Emma Bowman about Chat GPT at NPR.org, it’s turning heads in academia. The reporter asked the text-based system at OpenAI to write a quippy news article about how it could change academia. This is part of the response:
[click_to_tweet tweet=”This is part of what OpenAI has to say about what ChatGPT can do. ” quote=”‘It has the ability to generate original research papers complete with properly cited sources and data analysis.'” theme=”style3″]
It’s definitely a game changer, and one students are sure to jump on. Not only can it write papers, according to the same article, it can solve math problems, debug code, and summarize lengthy articles and books.
It sort of reminds me of Data, the android character on the science fiction series Star Trek. Although it was a fount of knowledge, Data also had some faults. One fault in particular was the lack of any sense of humor. It seems ChatGPT has a similar fault. See for yourself.
How Does Chat GPT Work?
I asked the system at OpenAI to tell me the answer to this question. Here is its response
Notice it mentions it keeps track of words and phrases that have been used and uses that context to create more responses. During my informal investigation, I began seeing the same words and phrases multiple times.
What Are the Weaknesses of Chat GPT?
One thing that was clearly apparent to me was that text produced by Chat GPT was lacking in the writing trait of voice. You can test it out yourself and see what you think. In my opinion, the writing was dry and fairly stilted, even formulaic. It’s also repetitive. That can be expected in beginning writers in elementary grades, but in high school and above, it’s a ringer for ChatGPT. See for yourself.
Immediately upon reading these I noticed the formulaic writing. It has two paragraphs of explanation, complete with a transition, and a concluding paragraph that restates the main ides. It’s also exactly what I teach students to do when they are beginning writers. But as they advance in their skills, they can vary the formula to create more original-sounding writing. Can Chat GPT adapt and advance? Time will tell.
How Well Can an AI System Write Poetry?
Next, I asked Chat GPT to create three poems about Juana. I gave no details about this person, just a name. I requested an acrostic poem, a bio poem, and a sonnet. For your reading pleasure, I enclose the three screenshots of the poems. First, here is the bio poem.
Okay, my third grade students could have written this. Honestly, I wouldn’t suspect AI if I read this poem from a student.
This is the acrostic poem.
It’s a tad more complex, but it lacks emotion. Naturally, it’s written by a bot.
Finally, in the sonnet, you’ll notice the repetition.
How Can A Teacher Discover If A Student Used AI to Write a Paper?
There are tools available online to determine with a high degree of probability if a student has used AI to write their papers. For now, those can be helpful. Certainly, students will find a work-around, and from what I’ve read online, many already have. One website you can try out is HuggingFace.co. Paste in the text, and it will give you an probability indicator of whether it was written by AI or by a human.
Another interesting site for determining the validity of a student’s writing is Originality.ai.
The Authority Hacker did an three-phase test of Originality.ai. They used business articles, some generated by AI and some written by humans, and one a mixture of both. You can read how accurate the results were in the blog post Originalityai Review.
Some savvy students may realize that they can go to different AI text generators and combine their results. Perhaps they ask ChatGPT to write a paper at one site. Then they go to another site, paste in the text, and ask for a rewrite. They might even go to a third, paste in the text, and ask for an edit. Would a teacher be able to tell if that was AI generated or not? You can give it a try and see what you find.
Watermarks for Chat GPT
I had a feeling this wouldn’t be far into the future, and sure enough, it’s in the works. At the time of this writing, OpenAI is developing a watermark system, so that AI generated content can be more easily detected. Also, Google will penalize bloggers and content writers if their work appears to be AI generated. Apparently AI will recognize other AI online. I’d say that’s a good thing.
Pros and Cons of Using Chat GPT in the Classroom
While there are many negatives that come to mind immediately surrounding students using Chat GPT, there can also be some positives. In the blog post, Teaching With ChatGPT and AI – The Good, the Bad, and the Possibilites, I delved into some of the ways this technology can be used in the classroom to enhance our lessons. Ideas are already popping up in education boards and posts about how to lean into this trend. What’s that saying about keeping your enemies close?
If you’d like to read about some ideas about using ChatGPT in a secondary French language classroom, the Frenchified blog has a good list.
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