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Will ChatGPT Ruin Education or Take Learning to a New Level? 4 Reasons Why Bot-based Learning Is the Wave of the Future & How to Teach Your Child the Right Way to Use AI

college prep high school middle school study skills May 06, 2023
Chatbots can be digital tutors

AI Bots will ruin education for our kids, but only if we let it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has infiltrated every aspect of our society, including education. As it becomes more sophisticated and undetectable, kids will rely on and become dependent on doing their homework and essays for them, bypassing any learning and, instead, just copying and pasting.


What Are AI Chat Bots

AI bots are computer programs designed to interact with humans and mimic human conversations. They are powered by machine learning algorithms that enable them to understand and answer human questions. These bots are designed to help humans with various tasks, such as answering questions, providing information, and even conversing.

Want to learn about unicorns or the coming zombie apocalypse? Chatbots will give you an answer (and a convincing one, at that!).

*This is just part of the story 100% AI Bot generated.

But AI bots offer tremendous benefits in addition to silly entertainment:

  • Personalized E-commerce Experience - Bots can make better product choices based on previous purchases or interests. Going on an Alaskan cruise, you can ask the bot for the right clothes for day and night. 
  • Healthcare - Bots can ask patients questions and refer them to the proper care or medical products based on symptoms and needs.
  • HR & Recruiting - Chatbots can streamline HR and recruiting, schedule interviews, answer frequently asked questions about company culture, and automatically update applicant status.

These are just a few of the positive use cases. 

Unfortunately, not everyone will use AI for good.


Examples of Misuse

As with any technology, there are those who will use it for evil purposes. AI bots are no exception. Some examples of misuse include:

  • Cyberbullying - AI can be used to create automated bots that harass and bully people online. This can lead to psychological damage and social isolation, leading to self-destructive behavior.
  • Deepfakes - Deepfake technology is used to create digital images or videos that appear to show people saying or doing things they did not do. 
  • Biased Algorithms - AI is only as good as the data it is trained on, and biased data sets can lead to discriminatory algorithms that perpetuate biases against certain groups of people.

Add misuse by students cheating on their schoolwork, and we will be in a lot of trouble if we do not get a handle on this now.


Popularity With Students

Students of all ages are quickly becoming overly dependent on Chatbots like ChatGPT.

Chatbots provide a quick and easy way for students to get answers to their questions without having to spend hours researching. These bots are always available and give kids the false sense that learning now involves asking the bot a simple question instead of taking the time to learn the material.

Homework can now be completed in minutes with little to no learning. 

Additionally, students are asking AI bots to write essays for them. It is as easy as asking for an essay about the causes of World War II, and the bot willing cooperates.

*The prompt was to write a short story about the causes of World War II, showing cause & effect.


Kids love anything new and cool, and then something that does their homework for them is going to be too much to stop. While kids think this is a win for their grades and time, it's a loss for their future development.


Proper Use of AI Chatbots

Instead of banning technology, we should embrace it and teach our students how to use it effectively and responsibly.

While these bots may offer convenience and efficiency, they should not be relied upon as a crutch for getting work done. Instead, they should be viewed as tools for the learning process (they will be no different than a tutor you can get at school, except this one knows everything). By teaching students how to use AI bots effectively, we can ensure they gain knowledge and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Disruptive Technology In Education Is Not New

This is not the first time technology has disrupted education.

Throughout history, education has changed because of technological advances. From the invention of the printing press, which improved literacy rates, to the introduction of computers into the classroom, dramatically increasing the scope of education, each innovation has brought new opportunities and challenges.

AI bots are no different.

While they may seem like a threat to traditional education, they have the potential to revolutionize the way we learn and teach. 

Integrating bot-based learning into our education system can provide students with a personalized and interactive learning experience that addresses their needs and interests. The key is to ensure that this technology enhances, rather than replaces, critical thinking and human interaction.

As with any disruptive technology, the key is to adapt and evolve with the times while preserving the core values and principles of education.


Advantages of Responsible Use

Responsible use of AI bots can have several benefits for students.

It can help them save time and effort while providing accurate and relevant information. It can also help them develop their research and analytical skills to learn better. The benefits of this amazing technology are endless and can accelerate the learning process and deepen it.

We now have access to a digital tutor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Here are just a few of the ways bot-based learning can help students:

  • Our digital tutors can provide personalized learning experiences for students that adapt to their needs and learning style. Students can help input digitized content from books, handouts, lectures, and notes and arrange them in organizational patterns that best suit their learning needs.
  • Bots can be fed information to create flashcards, outlines, study notes, multiple-choice tests, and even essay questions and corrections!
  • AI can help identify areas where students are struggling and provide targeted help. Bots can read essays and find logical errors, lack of support, and poor grammar. Better yet, they can even explain to students how to fix the mistake and why it was wrong.

*I copy and pasted a draft of a blog post I was writing and asked my digital tutor to read & critique my essay. Here is just a portion of the results.


The Unexpected Benefit of Bot-Based Learning

The most significant advantage of bot-based learning is not what the bot gives you but what you give the bot.

We must give our digital tutors precise and detailed instructions to perform at their best and deliver helpful content. The more specific and detailed the prompt, the more accurate and detailed the response will be.

Students need to know the material to deliver the specificity required. And they need to know more than just random facts. They need to understand the context and connections and how they connect.

The result is that students learn to think more clearly, logically, and consistently and ultimately take these skills and communicate better with others.

Don't believe me? Here's why it works: 

To craft a good prompt (a prompt that gets your bot to understand you), you need to think carefully about what you are asking. 

To get the right help from your digital tutor, you need to give it the right information in the right way:

  • What you want.
  • Who it is for.
  • How it is to be used.
  • How you want the information presented (bulleted list, essay, multiple choice quiz).
  • If it understands the prompt. You always want to end with a yes or no question. (Our digital tutor is very excited to help and sometimes starts before you are ready).

Many young people have been conditioned to say only what is necessary. But with practice, we can get them to say a little more.

Here's a before and after prompt from one student:

Inexperienced bot handler: What caused World War II. 

Experienced high school student chatbot prompt writer

[What I Want] Tell me the causes and effects of World War II. 

[Who is it for & how will it be used?] I am studying for a 25 question multiple choice test in my US History class.

[How I want the information presented]  You will give me 5 things:

  • First, write a short essay about the causes of WWII, showing cause and effect.
  • Second, write a second short essay showing the sequence of events that led to WWII. 
  • Third, create a 25 question multiple choice test about WWII. Make certain to wait for my answer, then explain the correct answer, but only after I answer and only do one question at a time, waiting for my answer. Do not do more than one question at a time.
  • Fourth, explain both cause and effect and the sequence of events in a short essay under 250 words.
  • Fifth, compare and contrast the leaders of the countries involved.
  • [Does it understand the prompt] 
  • If you understand, answer yes.

Notice that the second prompt is very specific about what is required, who it is for, and how it will be used.

This refinement is only possible if you know the critical components of the information and what teachers will be looking for.

While the information we learn in school is always important, it is better if we know why we are learning it and how to learn it.

Teaching students about the proper use of AI bots provide a better way to study and a forcing function to understand how information is organized, leading to faster learning and greater retention. 


Promoting the Responsible Use of AI

AI bots are just the next logical step in the evolution of education.

So not only do our students need to use this new power responsibly, teachers and schools need to adapt so that the power of bots does not take over. At one point, we were all worried that the Internet and connectivity would change education. It did, but only because the system adapted.

Now it's time for the system to adapt again, but it needs to adapt fast!

If used responsibly, AI bots like ChatGPT can be valuable student tools (it is like every student with a computer can have access to a digital tutor. It is essential to educate students on the proper use of these bots and encourage them to use them to supplement their learning. In this way, we can ensure that AI bots enhance, rather than undermine, the learning process.

Margaret Mead wrote, "Children must be taught how to think, not what to think." 

By teaching students how to use AI bots properly, they will not just become better makers and thinkers.


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