Surfing the ChatGPT Wave by Shoshi Vorchheimer – Director of Teaching & Learning

Surfing the ChatGPT Wave by Shoshi Vorchheimer – Director of Teaching & Learning

We live in an era where technology continues to reshape various aspects of our lives, and the educational landscape is no exception. AI, when harnessed effectively, has the potential to revolutionise learning and unlock new opportunities for academic growth. While it is essential to acknowledge the concerns and reservations that exist, it is important to explore the benefits of AI as a tool that students now have at their fingertips and educate them around the flaws and pitfalls of AI such as ChatGPT.

While some schools responded to AI as a threat that would diminish the role of the teacher and compromise academic integrity, at LYC, we have taken a more pragmatic approach. When Wikipedia first appeared on the horizon, there were similar fears that students would replace their own efforts with a cut and paste job from the internet. If we all recall our initial use of Wikipedia, we worked out from experience that Wikipedia was not necessarily a trustworthy site that would give us all the correct answers. Who amongst us today doesn’t utilise google to look up information or access background information as a starting point for a speech or assignment? Teachers at LYC are demonstrating the benefits of ChatGPT as a starting point that can provide ideas or a sense of structure that then requires student effort to flesh out and match to specific success criteria. Our Head of Arts and VCE teacher, Michael Daskalou has shown his Media students the results of ChatGPT searches, demonstrating the surface level information it provides and what students need to extend, add and explore to lift a ChatGPT response to an appropriate academic level. By demonstrating the correct use of ChatGPT to students rather than demonising it to students, we are diminishing the tantalising allure that forbidden objects or ideas so predictably elicit.

In a recent article in The Australian, titled ‘AI is taking away educators’ role in helping young people know themselves and the power they have to change the world’, David De Carvalho, the CEO of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), articulated the debate around AI and education and raised questions about the wider purpose of education. He recognises the threat that AI may introduce to the workforce, and its impact on the knowledge economy. However, he reminds us of the job we have as educators, ‘to help young people come to know themselves and the power they have to change the world.’ Rather than perceiving education as a process of acquiring skills and knowledge to make us employable, we should be endorsing an education that, as LYC’s mission statement promotes, nurtures students to be of fine character, compassionate, life-long, learners inspired by their relationship with Hashem and the Torah, and responsible, committed citizens.

Adam Voight from Real Schools has weighed in on this AI debate and contends that ‘schools right now have a choice. Fight the wave of ChatGPT or surf it.’ And surf it we are. That’s not to say we haven’t changed some of our practices to protect learning at LYC. We have clarified our academic integrity processes, ensuring assessments are handwritten, planned in class or submitted via ‘Turn it in’. And the nature of assessments will continue to change, so that insight, creativity, original thought, problem solving and complexity are rewarded over knowledge acquisition. But haven’t they always been rewarded? If we succumb to the fear mongering out there, we lose sight of the values and markers of excellence that have always existed.

We have learned to pivot before, as remote learning showed us. Many have begun to realise that if we utilise AI for the administrative tasks that take up our time, we can use that time developing engaging and inspiring opportunities, that as Adam Voight adds, ‘might leave some room and time to… I dunno…teach.’