In the northern hemisphere, it’s now officially summer in terms of both the calendar and the school year. Those of you who are teachers often use the slower pace of summer to participate in professional development learning opportunities. Sometimes the purpose of professional development is to upskill regarding something unexpected that arose during the school year that you were unprepared for and is likely to continue into the next year. Such was the case for many on-site teachers when the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic arose in 2020. When it became evident that the pandemic would continue into the next school year, many of you spent time that summer learning about best practices for online teaching and further adjusting your courses to better address the continued need for online education. Similarly, the emergence of technology, such as ChatGPT during the 2022-2023 school year, was an unexpected disruption in your classroom that you found yourself unprepared for and are hoping to learn more about before the next school year begins. It appears that ChatGPT-like technology will only expand and improve, and there are two things that teachers can (some would say must) do this summer to prepare.
1. Learn more about ChatGPT-like tools.
An article in Inside Higher Ed reports that some schools are providing resources or workshops for anyone to access or for their teachers only, but many teachers are on their own as they seek to improve their understanding of chatbot technology and its potential effects in their classroom. Other educators are teaming up for their professional development regarding artificial intelligence (AI) tools because there are no in-house resources or training available for them. If you’re looking for resources or training, then first inquire if your school is offering any. Next, you could ask colleagues at your school what resources or training they are using. Another option is to talk with educators you know at other schools, such as those who might be in your LinkedIn network. Whatever your level of understanding is of tools like ChatGPT, spend some time before the next school year begins heightening that knowledge in order to be able to hone your courses according to what would work best in your situation or environment.
2. Plan your course of action.
Teachers shouldn’t just put their heads in the sand and do nothing or naively think that a policy statement about student use of ChatGPT-like tools will suffice. You need to first gain an understanding of the technology and then work on a plan of action for your class.
As you plan your approach to AI in your classroom, make sure you first understand and follow your institution’s policies, if there are any, regarding student use of tools such as ChatGPT. Then, if necessary, adjust your course material accordingly with the mindset that you might need to make other adjustments during the school year. Lastly, approach the new school year with confidence that you’ve prepared yourself and your course but with humility that there is always more for you to learn and that you might need to tweak your plan.
Your thoughts and ideas about the usefulness of tools like ChatGPT might match that of some teachers but not of others, and that’s okay. Teachers have mixed opinions about tools like ChatGPT, and there is not agreement in academia about if or how AI technology can or should be used by students. But what is clear, as stated in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is that “What professors and academic leaders do this summer and fall will be pivotal in determining whether they can find the line separating appropriate use from outright abuse of AI.”