How has ChatGPT changed Solon High School?

ChatGPT was released in November 2022 and has shocked users with its unique abilities. 

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash.

ChatGPT was released in November 2022 and has shocked users with its unique abilities. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash.

Avantika Pai, Contributing Writer

In November 2022, OpenAI released an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, ChatGPT. ChatGPT has impressed people across the internet with its outstanding abilities to generate conversations, write essays, solve math problems, provide advice, write code and complete numerous other tasks. Users simply enter their prompts and the chatbot provides an answer within seconds. Several schools throughout America have already banned the website over concerns that students will use the AI to complete assignments.

Brynt Sines, Curriculum Technology Resource Teacher at Solon High School (SHS), sent several resources to the SHS staff about the chatbot as soon as it was released. The resources included a CBS special, which contains surface-level information on ChatGPT and an ever-changing Google slide deck created by Torrey Trust, an Associate Professor of Learning Technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that details all of the chatbot’s uses and applications in a school environment.

Nanci Bush has been teaching at SHS for 29 years. She teaches currently AP Language and Composition, 9 Honors English, Public Speaking and Creative Writing.
(Avantika Pai)

Nanci Bush, an English teacher at SHS, said that the material that Sines sent was useful, but she first learned about ChatGPT through a Facebook group for English teachers.

“I kind of feel like I knew about it before some of the kids,” Bush said. “I was already making some changes to my curriculum. I was aware that they might try to trick me with that, but I really think [my students were confused as to why I started changing my methods].”

Even though ChatGPT can be applied to various classwork, the chatbot-written essays aren’t fully detailed and can be limited in factual information. They do, however, provide a basic structure and outline for virtually any prompt.

“I definitely think that if there were kids that didn’t know where to start, that it would be a good way to see a sample of an essay,” Bush said. “It might not be an exemplar, but it can show them a place to start.”

SHS Senior Rohan Navaneetha expressed how he has already used ChatGPT to work through writing prompts in Creative Writing Club.

“[ChatGPT] could be used as an inspiration or source or as a teaching tool,” Navaneetha said.

Daniel McKeen, a computer science teacher at SHS, explained that he has tested ChatGPT to see how well it can complete the assignments he gives students. According to McKeen, ChatGPT can solve some of his introductory programming assignments.

“For the easier assignments that I give, especially toward the beginning of the year, it can immediately solve something I would give my students two or three days to work on,” McKeen said. “That’s an issue, but my class is an elective, so hopefully, they’re not taking the class if they’re not planning to put in the time to learn what the assignments are supposed to teach them.”

McKeen has said that even though he has heard that many computer science teachers have stopped giving points to take-home programming assignments, he doesn’t plan to take points away.

“As a teacher, you put points on things that are important,” McKeen said. “If I were to take points away from programming assignments, that’s my way of saying, ‘that’s not really important.’”

According to Navaneetha, “It’s amazing to see that ChatGPT has flourished, since DALL-E was also a big trend, and now ChatGPT is the next stepping stone in that.

“It’s troublesome and worrisome in how it can affect our education because so much of the work we do these days is on the computer,” Navaneetha said. “It’s important that the creators of ChatGPT have been and have continued to push that [the content] it generates is more vague [and less detailed].”

To prevent students from turning to ChatGPT to complete assignments, McKeen has stated that he gives students ample time to finish projects and is available before and after class to help students.

Like McKeen, Bush has adapted to the new AI by changing her essay writing process. She said that she has always given her students a choice to hand-write or type their essays, but now, with increased usage of ChatGPT, she requires students to hand-write essays.

“I think other lines of defense will be creating prompts that require things that are really hard for the AI to do, like reflection pieces,” Bush said.

As artificial intelligence advances, the topic of discussion in the workforce is whether or not there will be a need for human workers. Teachers have already turned to ChatGPT to create lesson plans, develop rubrics and complete other repetitive tasks. Bush, however, has said that she doesn’t believe that AI has the potential to take over teaching jobs.

“I feel like there will always be some need for that human component in teaching,” Bush said. “I also think that social media has seemed to be an underlying cause for the stress and anxiety kids are facing. I feel like there will be some need for a teacher. But I feel like maybe it would free up a lot of the drudgery of my job and tasks, so maybe there are possibilities there.”

Similarly, Sines has said that ChatGPT can be a good starting point for helping teachers and students complete more tedious tasks. When looking to the future with AI in the classroom, Sines has also expressed that he’s not afraid of change.

“As we see new technologies arise, I’m not afraid of change,” Sines said. “You embrace it, you take it on, and the only fear is not getting an understanding of that technology. [We must learn] more and more about that technology so it can be used in a way to enhance what we’ve done.”

Navaneetha has said that he believes that in the future, these AI chatbots should be a topic of discussion at SHS.

“I think it’s definitely going to have to be a topic of conversation in art and English classes–maybe it’s in the beginning of the year with the anti-cheating and plagiarism policy,” Navaneetha said.

One of the most prominent concerns with ChatGPT in the classroom is that it leads students to have a loss of integrity and individuality. Both McKeen and Bush have said that the most important thing to them during this process is that their students are learning.

“I just want to make sure that kids keep learning,” Bush said. “I want learning to stay central to the student-teacher process. I guess I worry about the kids that fall to [AI] as the shortcut and what’s lost.”