Questions rise with the advancement of AI, teachers react
The ominous cursor repeatedly winks back at you, taunting, daring, and tormenting you to finish your term paper due at 11:59 p.m.. The temptation to turn to an easy outlet is too strong to resist as a fateful deadline approaches; that outlet comes in the form of Chat GPT.
When one thinks of artificial intelligence, images are conjured of murderous robots roaming the empty soulless streets. But in reality, AI is more accessible and pervasive than ever. In recent events, AI has shifted from only being able to process content to being able to process and create content like digital paintings and writing.
This tool of being able to create its own content has sparked questions as to what to do with students using these new programs that write essays through programs like Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer and Ryter. Chat GPT generates texts based on data and information gathered from the internet in a clear and easy way to understand.
Although the use of the AI writing tool has been improving the lives of some workers as it is used to churn out small articles for a company’s blog or a small marketing campaign according to EuroNews, the main concern for this advanced technology is students.
“The process of technology has always been to make our lives easier,” English teacher and sophomore dean Philip Bryan said. “However, I don’t know if AI has had or will have an impact on students and their writing.”
With the rise in the usage of AI writing programs, teachers have been discussing what to do with this new information. Chief Academic Officer Rebecca Brady believes that it could be used with some additional guidelines, although there are shared concerns among administrators.
“We are all excited about it,” Brady said. “But with that, comes a little fear, since we are still brainstorming on what to do.”
This meeting, an optional one to talk about AI and its possible effects, not only raised the question of the usage of AI and writing, but also the future of teaching.
“Some comments were about the impact of teaching,” Brady said. “We don’t know if this is going to change what it means to be a teacher.”
English teacher and English Department Chair Tolly Salz worries about the future of teaching.
“Information is at the tip of everyone’s fingertips,” Salz said. “Knowing that as educators, we have to think about the objectives and philosophically ask what is the purpose of teaching?”
But AI can also be seen as an opportunity to elaborate learning and benefit both students and teachers.
“This is a beautiful opportunity,” Salz said. “It’s a great opportunity to help educators understand the purpose of educating and how to better it.”
However, in the face of the issue, there are some easily detectable pros and cons that come with AI. Many inquire whether or not AI writing could be beneficial to English students as it could provide a “zero” or rough draft.
“AI does solve the problem of ‘the blank page,’” Bryan said. “For a lot of students, I think this is a great way for them to get a good first draft in.”
In addition to solving the problem of the rough draft, Salz believes that AI can also be a good organizer, as it provides students with information in an efficient and clean manner.
“AI can produce something that gives students information and details,” Salz said. “But, it does not give the analysis, it doesn’t have beautiful language that is evocative of voice.”
The consequence of using AI as an organizer for details is that it sometimes provides false information that it gathers from the internet.
“It’s going to take further programming for it to figure out what’s accurate and what’s not,” Bryan said. “It’s working with everything from the internet, and some information hasn’t been fact checked.”
However, the incorrect information given by AI isn’t what is concerning most English teachers. Many of them are beginning to face the question of this work quality.
“To me, the wrong question to ask is if AI wrote this or did my student,” Bryan said. “The question should be does this have human qualities.”
From there, teachers are able to detect the monotone writing that AI produces as it lacks the aspects of human writing.
“Yes, we are looking for something technically factual,” Bryan said. “But we look for the human creativity, the messy beauty that comes from human writing.”
With all being said, the general opinion towards AI at ESD is not to ban it or to neglect the idea of using it, but rather to understand how to use it and embrace it.
“For our community, we are going to think about what’s best for students and teachers,” Brady said. “And I think embracing it with some precautions and finding ways to talk about it is the best way to go.”
The main concern given by most teachers is not whether or not students will use this opportunity to cheat, but if it changes the standard of students’ writing.
“My real fear of AI is not that it exists and not that the kids will cheat,” Bryan said. “My real fear is that we will become content with something that is average.