On Feb 24, 2023, we held a Members+ event — A Campus Conversation on ChatGPT in Teaching & Learning. 204 folx attended, heard an overview from Morton Ann Gernsbacher (video, captioned version), and talked about how it might impact higher education. It was organized by Morton Gernsbacher and John Martin, with wonderful help by our Zoom co-pilots (Christine Rybak, Megan Wecker), and breakout room moderators (Cindy Poe, Andrew J Turner, Janet Staker Woerner, Nathan Jung, Jonathon Young, Laura Grossenbacher, Ron Cramer, Shelly Burns, Jan Miernowski, Jessica Arendas, and Rich Freese). Thanks to all who helped and participated!
While it might be too early to create policies about ChatGPT, a few points discussed in each of the breakout rooms stood out:
- Students: Some are already using it to help with (or complete) their assignments. You may need to have a class-wide conversation about how to use it responsibly — noting that a big part of learning is learning to struggle in problem spaces. If they use ChatGPT to minimize that struggle, they going to mis out.
- Instructors: Some are already using it to teach and help design learning spaces. Right now, it’s a great tool for producing “almost good” answers that are perfect for student critique. It’s also great for generating first drafts of questions and activities aligned with learning objectives — but don’t neglect to rewrite these things! Maybe future versions will help with grading? Stay tuned!
- Personalized Learning: ChatGPT is a very patient tutor that can help many of your students quickly get up to speed on topic overviews and connections, generate study materials like flash cards, practice sets, etc. — and it’s especially good for those who learn through dialogue! But check out the leads it provides yourself; don’t just accept them! It may lead you astray. (Did you know there are at least ten ChatGPT Chrome Extensions?)
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Because it’s been trained on the human-generated content of the internet, it’s been trained with bias. Bias can be subtle and nuanced. ChatGPT is not where it needs to be here. Maybe we can harness what it can do to free up time for the human conversations (and self-reflection) that DEI requires?
- Writing: Although it’s clever enough to follow the form of a Sestina, and can help organize and summarize papers, it doesn’t really write good poems or papers (yet). Perhaps it’s best use is for helping students develop good questions because the prompts need to be good for it to generate useful results. Note that it often makes up citations — even if they look right, follow the right format, and refer to real journals, they might reference bogus articles on bogus pages. Make sure your students check before submitting!
- Struggling Students: ChatGPT can be a patient “peer learner,” help overcome anxiety and procrastination, and help phrase (and rephrase) material in different ways that can reach a wider range of students. With the more difficult elements of “good writing” (grammar, formats, etc.) automated, it might encourage students to focus more on developing their idea.
- Engagement: Like Wikipedia, ChatGPT can quickly get people up to speed, but through a variety of means, follow-up questions, rephrasing, etc. so they get the confidence to engage. If it’s not equitably accessible (e.g., some students have better versions than others), it might cause further divisions.
- Critical Thinking: Again, by “handling” some of the stressful elements of execution, maybe students will be able to spend more of their energy digging into and understanding the underlying issues and systems behind the content they’re learning. Also mentioned above, it currently provides plenty of “almost good” content to critique.
- Ethics: “The use of AI in academia raises ethical concerns around labor practices, privacy, and intellectual property violations, and there is inconsistent guidance on how to properly cite and acknowledge AI in academic work, highlighting the need for transparency and more discussion as the technology evolves.” (I so appreciate that this breakout group used ChatGPT to distill their conversation into 3 points, that I too used ChatGPT to combine their 3 points into one!)
- Administration: Sometimes we do things a certain way because we’ve always done them a certain way. ChatGPT can be a catalyst for generating different approaches (if done carefully and ethically), as well as a production tool for templates and drafts (again, with caution!).
You’ll probably want to check my interpretation of the takeaways against what was written on the Resource Sheet (bit.ly/ChatGPT-campus-convo), as well as look into some of the many annotated resources shared there.
If you’d like to see more campus conversations on this or other topics, please, please, please let us know — ChatGPT Campus Conversation Feedback form.