Controversy surrounds ChatGPT, the chatbot powered by OpenAI, according to an article in eSchool News. Some experts believe this new technology can have a positive impact on teaching and learning; others worry it may weaken the teaching of critical thinking and increase bias by spreading misinformation about different groups and cultures.
It’s up to educators to create classroom conditions for students to use ChatGPT and other AI tools in a responsible way. Educators can draw on their long practice of nurturing student agency and authentic engagement, as they have always done. This approach goes even further when combined with teaching global competencies such as appreciation for diversity, perspective-taking, and global engagement, empowering students to take ownership over their learning. Educators also can tap student enthusiasm for new technology by assigning–and assessing student learning using–multimedia projects.
The Global Scholars e-classroom exchange program has reached more than 105,000 students from 114 cities in 39 countries. There are no fees for schools. Working with more than 500 teachers annually, and with Project Zero from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to analyze e-classroom discussion boards, nine learning outcomes have been identified on what works to keep students engaged in learning.
Underlying the 5 strategies below are 2 fundamentals of AI which will come as no surprise to today’s educators.
- Multimedia assignments. Multimedia projects such as podcasts, interviews, news articles, infographics, 3D spaces, and videos tap student enthusiasm for new technology — but for creative purposes. These types of assignments are also harder to farm out to AI. Multimedia projects offer educators alternative ways to see evidence of student thinking. A student’s role in building a collaborative website, video, or even community garden may not be as easy to evaluate as a 5-paragraph essay—which ChatGPT could handle more easily—but it gives educators a window into key elements of critical thinking skills such as creativity, problem solving, decision-making, strategic planning, and verbal communication as they develop.
- Student expertise. Students ages 10-13 are rarely seen as experts or asked to share their perspectives and lived experiences. Asking for students’ personal experience and insights about their own communities is both inspiring and hard to fake. Educators can raise the bar by emphasizing the diversity of local cultures in any community or classroom and coaching students to listen for and to value different perspectives.
To promote engagement and support the development of critical thinking skills in classrooms, here are five strategies to teach and assess student learning in the age of AI learned from Global Scholars’ experience.
- Action! Encourage students to create goals and list the action steps themselves. Have them measure and note the impact of each action. Students can measure impact by gathering data from surveys or documenting testimonials.
- Community. Encourage students to look beyond the classroom for deeper learning. For any topic, they can conduct interviews with local experts.
- Own it. Give students the opportunity to select their preferred roles and responsibilities. By giving students the freedom to choose, they can feel more invested in the project and take ownership of their contributions. This approach also fosters a sense of collaboration since each group member contributes to a shared goal.
- Invite new perspectives. To limit bias and prejudice, set up authentic, structured encounters with peers of different backgrounds. This empowers students to speak about their own lived experience and to listen with care to that of others. A virtual exchange program such as Global Scholars, Open Canopy, or a resource like iEarn makes these authentic encounters easier to arrange. If this is not available, take advantage of the diverse experiences in your own classroom to encourage reflection and respectful exchange.
- We can work it out. Develop assignments that promote inclusive problem-solving and multiple perspectives. Have students design a community survey to gather insights from family and community members on any topic. Have them show survey responses in pie charts or bar graphs or edit a video of an interview.
An authentic assignment or a sincere and honest exchange teaches students not only to avoid reliance on received responses such as those from ChatGPT; it also launches them on a lifelong learning adventure.