Home School Management Why the ChatGPT ban in public schools is being reversed

Why the ChatGPT ban in public schools is being reversed

by Staff

Why the ChatGPT ban in public schools is being reversed

On Sunday, Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare, announced that the ban on public school students using generative AI tools such as ChatGPT may be reversed next year, pending the development of a draft framework addressing concerns of plagiarism, cheating, and impacts on student learning.

Another concern has been that the sector’s students could fall behind their peers in the private school sector, many of whom have been free to use the technology in the classroom as a way to examine AI-generated content against their own work, among other activities.

Bridget Forster, head of Kerferd Library and a VCE Literature Teacher at Mentone Girls Grammar in Victoria, is about to pilot an online collaborative project that aims to enhance students’ voice and creativity by allowing students from Scotland, Canada, and Australia to share Literature from their countries and critique the extent to which it reflects their own lived experience and cultural identity.

“Following their reading, students would use AI generated fictional texts set in each country to explore what makes Literature from their region unique,” Forster told The Educator.

“Principals can support the ethical use of AI by ensuring that students have an understanding of how the technology works and its limitations. A great place to start would be to examine the datasets that power the technology and how cultural and gender bias can be embedded in these.”

There is also some transformative work underway in South Australia, where Catholic schools recently joined their public counterparts in allowing students access to the technology, except for online exams and other tests.

Last week, it was announced that eight public high schools will become the first in Australia to trial an AI app, named EdChat, with the aim of showing students how AI can support their studies while also protecting them from information that could put them at risk.

The government will decide whether or not to roll out the app to other schools following an eight-week trial.

Meanwhile, researchers at Deakin University plan to introduce a series of writing labs in Victorian secondary schools that aim to incorporate the power generative AI into the teaching of written English.

The goal of the project is to help educators and students explore how AI and other digital tools can be used in the classroom to enhance writing skills, as part of a wider study into the teaching of digital writing in secondary school English.

“Schools that do not ultimately incorporate these tools into their written English programs are going to disadvantage their students when they move on to tertiary education or the workplace,” Lucinda McKnight, the project lead and a researcher at Deakin’s Centre for Research for Educational Impact (REDI), said.

“We need to develop our students as real writers and real writers in today’s world – whether they be sport reporters, copywriters, or playwrights – are already using AI. This technology has been around for years and it’s time we stopped ignoring it.”

A blanket ban was never going to work

Toby Walsh, chief scientist at the University of New South Wales’ AI Institute, welcomed the government’s proposal to reverse its ban on generative AI in public schools, telling ABC News “Just as we’ve embraced calculators, we need to work out how to embrace this technology”.

This view is also shared by Mark C. Perna, a Generational Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Bestselling Author, who recently penned an op-ed in Forbes, titled: ‘Why Education Needs To Lean Into ChatGPT—Instead Of Trying To Ban It’.

“While calculators have a role in higher-level math, they do not teach that math. Calculators cannot tell us how or why an answer is correct; they simply provide it. Does that mean we stop using them in higher-level math courses? No. So, are AI content generators all that different?” Perna wrote.

“To use AI to write an effective essay, the student must know the point they want to make, why it matters and what arguments help them make that case. Then once the initial content is generated, they must verify the sources, review the style, correct any errors, and produce a human-checked piece of work to hand in.”

“I don’t know about you, but to me that still sounds like significant work on the student’s part—with a lot of learning happening along the way.”

Similarly, wrote Perna, students who use AI to solve a math problem won’t just get the answer (as a calculator would show).

“They will be shown every bit of the work, with reasons and explanations at every step. In essence, it teaches you how to get the answer – and isn’t that what we want students to learn?”

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