Hybrid Learning and ChatGPT

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

In my previous post I shared the responses made to five questions asked by my friend and colleague, Nick Billowes, about hybrid learning as he was pondering the future for schools in 2023.

I can now reveal the truth behind these responses… they were 100% generated by the AI, ChatGPT

Having read much about ChatGPT over the past two months, Nick and I decided to actually give it a go and see just how easy to use ChatGPT is, and how accurate the information provided is (particularly given the many reports about the limitations of this technology).

In this case we were pleasantly surprised. After entering the questions we had to wait just a few moments before the answers began appearing on screen. What appeared (as you can read in this post) makes sense, is well structured and covers pretty much all of the key ideas and issues that we’d consider to be important on this topic (certainly, they all align with writing I’ve done on the topic of Hybrid Learning on the FutureMakers website.)

What it does is provide a useful, high level, summary overview in response to each question – very useful for someone who is new to the topic and needing a broad framework to work from. What it doesn’t do is provide any sort of deeper analysis or discussion about the pros and cons, possible future implications, or discussion around issues of equity etc.

We also tried asking questions about a topic that we are less informed about, in this case, the possible impacts of the global financial crisis on families and businesses in 2023. Again, the response provided a useful, high level overview of key information. At this point we began to see how useful ChatGPT could be, not in writing the complete document or response, but in helping to frame up a possible structure for a response by providing a global overview of the main points. It could certainly be useful for those (like me!) who from time to time suffer a form of ‘writers block’, where the theme, topic and key ideas are all floating around in my mind, but I sometimes just can’t seem to settle on a structure to follow.

Of course, it goes without question that the usefulness of something like ChatGPT will only be as good as the understanding of the people/person using it. The outline it suggests, for example in our GFC experiment, would need to be challenged and verified in the same way that any piece of academic research is – but the fact that it so quickly provides a structure of key points certainly has potential for assisting the development of this sort of activity we feel.

After its release in November last year, reports about ChatGPT have dominated many discussion forums and newsfeeds. In the field of education it has been particularly noticeable with headlines such as EdWeek’s What is ChatGPT and how is it used in education? and ChatGPT: Education Friend or Foe from the Brookings Institute. These, and similar reports attempt to unpack both the potential and possible pitfalls of ChatGPT use in education. Of course, it’s early days, so more will become evident as more use is made – but these sorts of articles are useful to read in order to stay abreast of what is being said.

Then we see some of the responses from those who are expressing understandable concerns as these futures are pondered, with headlines such as Australian Schools Flying Blind on use of ChatGPT and other Technology and Teachers on Alert for Inevitable Cheating after release of ChatGPT. The latter leading to responses like this one… Australian universities to return to ‘pen and paper’ exams after students caught using AI to write essays (The gist of the article is that “outdated policy is hindering use of edtech that can be used to improve learning outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged students,”)

On the flip-side, there are a number of articles and posts appearing from educators who are finding useful ways of managing ChatGPT in the classroom, or posts such as this one from Shana Ramin who suggests three ways ChatGPT could be used in the classroom.

Like any new technology, there will be both positives and negatives, and these are likely to be amplified in ways we’ve not experienced before. Some of these things may challenge us to think differently about our existing structures in education – for example, our approach to assessment through exams and essays. Others will reinforce the need for critical literacy skills when it comes to accessing information, including the ability to identify bias or racial profiling for example. Ian Bogost, in the Atlantic, has some useful points to make here in his post titled ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think.

So… the challenge for all of us as educators, parents and grandparents (I fit all three categories 🙂 is to remain alert, scan the horizon, participate in conversations and be prepared to ‘have a go’ simply to discover for yourself how this works and where the possibilities and pitfalls might lie. A useful place to start could be Ten Facts and ChatGPT which are at least facts, and avoid the hyperbole of claims that chatGPT will replace everything or that it shouldn’t be used for anything. The last thing we can afford to do is put our heads in the sand and hope it will go away, or worse, attempt to eliminate it from our activity as educators and assume that we will be able to continue with our work independently of what is happening in the world of artificial intelligence.

Have you had a go with ChatGPT? What was your experience and where has it lead you to in your thinking? Please share in the comments section below…

4 thoughts on “Hybrid Learning and ChatGPT

  1. Spot on analysis Derek and Nick! And very useful challenges for educators to know, understand and be wise about use

  2. WOW, what a surprise to read this…
    No matter how the answers were gained, I love the thought of a Nick Derek question answer session. It took me back to my memories of so many ‘good old days’. And as you say much of what came up pretty much covered the key ideas. My thoughts is that ChatGPT has been reading your thoughts!
    What a wonderful lesson here for us all.
    Looking forward to exploring this further.
    Anne K

  3. WOWSERS, just having my first play with ChatGPT… and I am more than a little impressed. As we discussed today Derek, a lot of the groundwork can be done, to shape up a discussion, or set a framework for a post.
    Looking forward to a lot more exploration!

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