How to Use ChatGPT to Support Teachers: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
ChatGPT 3.5 – an artificial-intelligence (AI) chatbot – has been around since November 2022. To say it has the potential to revolutionize education systems is an understatement. Currently, it’s unclear exactly how the chatbot will affect the sector, but it’s clear it is both a threat and a gamechanger. There are the skeptics, who have tried to ban ChatGPT in schools, and the advocates, who think it is the “silver bullet” solution to a host of education challenges around the world.
To the skeptics’ point that the chatbot is detrimental to the learning process, its fair to say it has and will continue to disrupt the most traditional learning tools teachers have used for decades (e.g., writing and revising essays). What follows is an uncomfortable question: With a shortage of 69 million primary and secondary teachers around the world, could ChatGPT supplement teachers, or even replace them?
The launch of ChatGPT has demonstrated the potential for the technology to enhance, and in some cases replace, some of the activities and tasks done within jobs by humans. Will teachers – considered a major determinant for student learning, wellbeing, and long-term success – be an exception? Could the chatbot independently complete tasks currently done by teachers? If so, what are the associated risks? How can teachers use ChatGPT to enhance their practice and/or improve the efficiency of certain tasks?
The opportunity: using ChatGPT as a tool
Here are some examples of how policymakers could encourage teachers to use ChatGPT.
Enhance lessons. A major challenge for teachers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is transforming a dense curriculum into an engaging lesson. Teachers can use ChatGPT to translate learning objectives into engaging lesson plans, get ideas for preparing classes, or draft new assignments or assessments. ChatGPT can help with lesson preparation and proficiency, but not delivery. As such, teachers will need pedagogical proficiency to teach the lesson with high quality.
Create assessment questions. Teachers could use ChatGPT to improve assessment questions and generate multiple-choice items. They could also use it as an input to encourage higher-order thinking skills by providing prompts for the essay questions and practical tasks. Teachers can use different types of assessment that could help students to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative skills.
Support with language barriers. Although it would be ideal for countries to ensure teachers instruct in their native language, the reality is that some systems – despite evidence to the contrary – are moving away from teaching in the local language and shifting toward a second language (i.e., English). In these contexts, teachers also do not know English and have difficulty teaching in a language they don’t understand. Here, the chatbot could serve as a tool for improving the teachers’ language proficiency, helping them to instruct more effectively in their native language or in a foreign language. For example, Duolingo and GPT claim to offer affordable and accessible highly personalized language lessons.