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ChatGPT, Open AI’s artificial-intelligence tool that can write poetry, news articles or essays, has been banned in many schools around the world, but others are embracing it in the classroom, saying it may revolutionize education.

Ahmad Samer Wazan, associate professor at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, encourages the use of the chat bot in his classroom, but says it will never replace the human ability to think critically.

Wazan, who recently gave a presentation on the subject at Khalifa University, says ChatGPT can offer superficial results, but the real learning takes place in the process of probing the AI tool.

Students need to understand the subject enough to know that the answer is superficial. They also need to think critically to probe for a more in-depth and accurate result, he says.

If it is asked a question, it will answer in a broad fashion — without real detail. The user needs to ask more meaningful questions to get a meaningful result. This, he believes, is where the learning can take place.

“The tool is not thinking critically” he says, indicating educators should use this tool to help students improve the technical aspects of their writing, but not rely on it.

Ahmad Samer Wazan, associate professor at Zayed University

Wazan is not alone. Other teachers are using the bot in other creative ways: to write story prompts, provide sample-test questions to prepare for exams, or have students critique the information and writing it produces to strengthen their own skills. It’s not only students who can benefit, however.

Educators can use the platform to save them administrative work, which means more time to focus on teaching. For example, ChatGPT can write lesson plans, emails to parents and meeting agendas. It can produce professional-development content for administrators to share with their teams or create curriculum-specific content. Some educators believe even with the risks, AI will continue to evolve and students should learn to use it effectively and ethically.

While ChatGPT can be used productively in education, there are risks. Educators need to be aware of the bot’s abilities in order to determine whether students are learning. Some teachers are adding impromptu oral examinations to test students suspected of cheating.

Because ChatGPT will not offer the same essay twice, however, it can be difficult to spot plagiarism.

Though the structure, grammar and punctuation is well-executed, professors have noted facts that are wrong. As a result, they’ve caught students cheating with AI-generated work.

To combat this issue, educators are turning to content detectors that can analyze the text and determine the likelihood that it was produced by AI. These detectors, however, are not reliable.

As a result of inaccuracies and risks of plagiarism, schools around the world have banned or restricted the use of chat bots.

Sciences Po, one of the top universities in France, is one of them, promising serious consequences for students who flout the rules governing the technology. “The sanctions for use of the software may go as far as exclusion from the institution, or even from French higher education as a whole,” the university says in a press release.

Tips for using ChatGPT

ChatGPT is simply the latest technology they will need to adapt their practice for. Similar fears of plagiarism circulated with the launch of the internet, mobile phones and tablets — all of which are now integral classroom tools.

Global online learning platform Coursera offers tips to use ChatGPT responsibly: ensure accuracy by reviewing and editing; use the tool as a starting point — not for a polished result; use for work that doesn’t require creative input; and use in tandem with other platforms and tools including your own thoughts, emotions and strategies.

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