ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence system that recently made the news for generating stunningly human-like text. It is an artificial neural network model of language, trained on billions of words of online text including newspaper articles, Wikipedia, and forum posts. James R Curran, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Grok Academy Limited talks about its benefits.
I encourage you to try it yourself with a short-answer task you have set for your students. You will be shocked. I bet it will pass. It will make you rethink what you are teaching and whether it is enough to prepare your students for their future.
So, let’s ask ChatGPT: “How do we prepare our kids for a changing technological future?” Its answer: To prepare kids for a changing technological future, focus on developing their STEM skills and critical thinking abilities. Provide them with opportunities to learn and explore new technologies, and encourage them to be curious and creative. This will help them build the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
Actually, that’s not quite true. ChatGPT’s first answer was too long, so I replied, “Make it shorter.” Its next answer still was, so I added, “Make it shorter again.”
Apart from disagreeing about a comma and the clumsy repetition of changing, I can’t fault ChatGPT’s answer (it is preaching to the choir!) or its grammar. Just to mess with you, dear reader, I told it “Now make it a limerick:”
To prepare kids for the future’s tech
First, focus on STEM skills to flex
Provide opportunities to learn
And to explore, in turn
So they can thrive in a world that’s complex.
Ok, so I’m not a fan of the rhythm, and I would have said future techs on the first line to make the rhyme perfect, but wow. And what’s more, the youth of today will appreciate flex.
What does it all mean? My answer is, I don’t know yet!
But I do know that educators have asked themselves the same question when first confronted by the transformative potential of Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, Google, the web, and further back the (now humble) pocket calculator, or even the printing press.
Educators have adapted to not only teach how to use these tools, but they have incorporated them into authentic, engaging pedagogy across disciplines.
Google and ChatGPT have ‘read’ far more text than you ever could as a human. They can find or generate answers, but only by reflecting back what they find on the web. Wolfram Alpha can solve any maths equation, but it still doesn’t understand the problem you’re trying to solve with the equation.
So ChatGPT was right. Our kids need STEM skills to use and create future technologies, aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They need critical thinking skills to sort truth from nonsense, and to identify and solve problems for the future they want.
I invite you to ponder these questions over summer.
Join Grok Academy for discussions about technology education and how we can help every Australian child prepare for their changing technological future.