Schools unprepared for impact of ChatGPT on learning, teachers say
More than half of computing teachers think schools are unprepared for the impact that generative AI chatbot ChatGPT could have on learning, research has found.
However, computing teachers want support to harness its potential rather than banning it, according to the industry body for IT.
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said a survey of its Computing at School network of teachers found that 62% said AI-powered chatbots such as ChatGPT would make it harder to mark the work of students fairly.
ChatGPT is a form of generative AI, which has come to prominence in recent months after a version of it was released to the public last year.
The chatbot is able to respond to questions in a human-like manner and understand the context of follow-up queries much like in human conversations, as well as being able to compose essays if asked – sparking fears it could be used by students to complete assignments.
Tech giants Microsoft and Google have both announced they are adding the technology to their respective search engines as a way of evolving how online searches are carried out.
Concerns have also been raised about such chatbots spreading misinformation through not being able to understand the authenticity of their sources and about the technology’s possible impact on writing-based professions.
According to BCS’ research, 56% of the computing teachers it asked said they did not think their school had a plan to manage the likely increasing use of ChatGPT by pupils, although 33% said early discussions had taken place and 11% said a plan had been formed.
In addition, 78% said they rated the general awareness of the capabilities of the technology among their colleagues as “low” or “very low”.
However, nearly half of those computing teachers asked (45%) said they were confident that generative AI was a tool that will improve teaching in their schools in the long term by helping to plan assignments and supporting students with research techniques.
“Assuming these generative AI programmes remain freely accessible, teenagers are going to use them to answer homework assignments – just like adults will come to rely on them at work,” Julia Adamson, managing director for education and public benefit at BCS, said.
“Computing teachers want their colleagues to embrace AI as a great way of improving learning in the classroom.
“However, they think schools will struggle to help students evaluate the answers they get from chatbots without the right technical tools and guidance.
“Calculators used to be banned from exams but are now mandatory. We need to bring machine learning into mainstream teaching practice, otherwise children will be using AI for homework unsupervised without understanding what it’s telling them.
“Another danger is that the digital divide is only going to get wider if better-off parents can pay for premium services from chatbots – and get better answers.”