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Educating in the Age of AI

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- ChatGpt takes massive amounts of data and converts it into the type of human conversation requested by the user.

Created by developer OpenAI, it has become the source of both fascination and frustration.

Almost immediately after its launch, many colleges and school districts across the country banned it after reports of students using it on final exams or other assignments, rather than doing the work themselves.

District 11 spokesperson Devra Ashby told KRDO, "We've just started to scratch the surface at the admin level."

However, Ashby adds that while district leaders are still looking into it, a ban is unlikely.

"We need to learn how to embrace it," she adds.

Jesse Walker teaches Mandarin Chinese at North Junior High School in District 11 and sees both sides of it.

He uses ChatGPT to create lessons and coursework, and it's a tremendous time saver.

"While I'm teaching, I can go and create a short story around a boy who's good at basketball, likes to play basketball, wants to travel to China, and meet a famous person like Lebron James.  It generates that while I'm teaching, instead of me sitting down during my planning time trying to write that myself."

Walker believes ChatGPT could even change the way we think about learning, with less of a focus on collecting facts and more of a focus on how to use them.

"I think it's going to be a real shift in education.  I think teachers really need to start thinking about what we're doing with material, and how we get students to interact with it," he says.

He and Ashby agree that it would be unrealistic to think educators and parents could keep kids from using it anyway.

"What do you do? You give them homework, they go home, they just use their phone, they use their own home computer, and they're still going to have access to it," explains Walker.

"We can't just say 'oh we're going to turn a blind eye and not look at the AI technology.'  We have to really look at what we can do, and how we can use it for the positive," adds Ashby.

D20 is also responding to the new technology, by informing their staff of how it can be used or abused.

According a statement from the district, "Academy District 20 (ASD20) is at the beginning stages of educating our educators. We are having conversations with our Digital Learning Coaches and Librarians on exploring what ChatGPT is and how it can be leveraged for teaching and learning."

The statement went on to say that the district has some Professional Learning courses scheduled for this summer, but the content hasn’t been finalized.

The ASD20 IT Team suspects it will have a course on how teachers can use it in the classroom and also investigate how teachers might identify it.”

Leelila Strogov, founder of AtomicMind, believes this new form of AI can be a game-changer for the better.

AtomicMind is a California company that works with students on their college admissions.

She agrees that banning it is not the solution, and points out that while ChatGPT might be the first, both Microsoft and Google are in the early stages of releasing their own versions to the masses.

"This technology is around to stay.  It's not a fad.  It's not going away.  And so I think to try to bury our heads in the sand would be silly."

Many school districts already use software that scans for plagiarism.

In D11, the software is called Turn It In, and according to Ashby, a lot of that software is being updated to scan for work created by ChatGPT so that students who try to cut corners can't.

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Bart Bedsole

Bart is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Bart here.


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