Artificial intelligence is infiltrating classrooms; what will this look like for students and educators?

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

“Disruptive innovation has arrived in the world of education, and the latest challenger to traditional teaching methods is artificial intelligence in the form of ChatGPT, which is poised to revolutionize the way educators and students approach learning.” 

The quoted introduction above was generated by ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot capable of producing human-like responses to most prompts and questions. In this case, ChatGPT was given a draft of this article and asked to “write an attention-grabbing, introductory sentence,” which it did in just a few seconds.

The term “disruptive innovation” refers to inventions and innovations within society that create a new market that ultimately disrupts an already existing market. Modern examples include Wikipedia disrupting the encyclopedia market, Airbnb disrupting the hotel industry and Netflix disrupting the movie rental market. 

Education is a constantly evolving environment — the curriculum, the technology, the resources are all ever changing. With each disruptive innovation, educators and students have to adapt to the change and evolve with the times.

Artificial intelligence has been creeping its way into classrooms for years, but the recent release of ChatGPT may be enough to truly disrupt educational environments. 

On March 3, Boise State University hosted the “Teaching and Learning with Artificial Intelligence” workshop via Zoom for educators across Idaho. 

The workshop was facilitated by faculty and staff from Boise State’s Center for Teaching and Learning, eCampus Center and Learning Technology Solutions. It was intended to demonstrate how educators and students may incorporate artificial intelligence, specifically ChatGPT, into the classroom. 

Instructors at the workshop explained the history of disruptive innovations within education, such as the invention of the pocket calculator, typewriters, computers and the internet. All of these technologies massively shifted curriculums and ways in which students were taught, and now ChatGPT is starting the next major shift. 

Upon its release in November 2022, ChatGPT quickly grew a large base of users to the point where there is often a wait time to access the program. In February, Reuters reported that ChatGPT reached 100 million active users just two months after its release, making it the fastest growing consumer application in history. 

[Photo of artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

Boise State’s workshop on ChatGPT was attended by over 160 individuals including instructors from all of Idaho’s public universities, as well as K-12 teachers, social workers and many others. 

One of the top concerns expressed by workshop attendees was the fear that ChatGPT and its future evolutions will take the jobs of teachers, writers, journalists and other more creative jobs.

During the workshop, attendees used ChatGPT to create assignments for college-level courses, create rubrics for said assignments and even write examples and then grade them. ChatGPT can write papers, music scores, poetry, computer code and so much more.

While the capabilities of ChatGPT can be intimidating, workshop instructors emphasized that the software still requires a lot of human intervention and should be viewed as a tool to enhance and help educators, rather than being seen as competition.  

Another common concern was that ChatGPT may be used by students to cheat on assignments. Some public school districts across the country have already banned the use of ChatGPT on district networks and devices, as is the case in New York City’s public schools.

Additionally, OpenAI implemented a new feature in February to combat plagiarism using their software. The feature, called the “AI text classifier,” allows users to submit a body of text and the program will tell them how likely it is that the text was generated using AI. 

Boise State has yet to make any changes or implement any new policies relating to ChatGPT, but it’s entirely possible as more people become familiar with the AI.  

Boise State GIMM major Noah Harris said that he personally would not use ChatGPT to cheat in his academics, but said it could still be useful to students or faculty for other purposes. 

“It’s remarkable how far AI technology has come to be able to generate text from so many different prompts,” Harris said. “I think one of the best things about ChatGPT is that it’s good for writing huge blocks of code that are normally just a lot of busy work.”

As ChatGPT and other AI become more mainstream, colleges and universities will have to continually fight the growing technology with bans and regulations, or they will eventually be forced to adapt to and benefit from AI in educational spaces.

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