Surviving and thriving with ChatGPT

AI, ChatGPT and the evolution of technology is a fact of life. What does this mean for the way we teach and learn?

Research continues to tell us that the students of today will be stepping into a wildly different world than their parents. The recent emergence of ChatGPT is indicative of our ever-changing world. ​​ChatGPT, and similar technology, is part of a new wave of AI that can generate highly cohesive, human-like responses to questions and prompts.

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International expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and education Professor George Siemens said that AI technology would undoubtedly change the lives of students and teachers.

“We are on the cusp of a massive explosion of innovation and creativity in the education sector and AI is at the very centre of it,” he said. 

For today’s students, AI technology will become increasingly commonplace in all facets of their lives. And for educators, these changes are impacting the way that students learn and prepare for careers after the classroom. 

A 2020 report by the University of Melbourne found that for students to thrive in the future workforce, they need to become “expert learners”. With this, they need to be adaptable to an ever-changing environment and also develop broader social skills. Developing personal skills such as collaboration, communication and persistence are paramount in helping students thrive into the future.  

“They need to acquire a body of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that enable them to adapt and contribute in an ever-changing environment,” the report said. “What is clear is that these skills cannot be learned if learning is experienced only through carefully directed, broadcast-style instruction, targeting mastery of set texts and assessed using well-rehearsed written examinations that rely on individual, intellectually focused effort.”

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© maciek905, Adobe Stock

For Nüdel Kart creator and founder Marcus Veerman, the recent media storm about ChatGPT has simply cemented what he already believed: that these new technologies will affect every level of society; and students, and therefore their educators, need to be highly adaptable and creative to thrive in this new paradigm. “Every time I think about all of these new technologies and this kind of rapid change, it all boils down to children needing to learn their most human skills of creativity, problem-solving, innovation, entrepreneurship, and all of the social skills that go along with it. Because everything’s going to change so rapidly, children need to be highly adaptable.”

While there are inherent fears surrounding AI technology, Mr Veerman said he believed AI was here to stay, and would offer many benefits to educators in the long run. “Humans like to be productive, I don’t think we’re going to have AI doing everything for us and just have people sipping pina coladas by the pool,” he said.

“I think what it will do is it will create opportunities for people to do much more interesting work. For educators, this means taking that next step up to be able to support learning by handing some ownership over to children, and to have a greater emphasis on children being active, creative problem solvers who have the skills to become innovative confident citizens in the world.”

© ipopba, Adobe Stock

Mr Veerman said he hopes to see problem-solving and creativity become its own subject in the future, for these areas to be seen as a skill to be practiced and developed.

This was a sentiment Professor Siemens echoed, saying that the education sector must be open to change. “Teachers must start connecting with their peers around the impact of AI on their teaching and state and national education departments should be actively evaluating how AI will affect policy, technology needs, and teacher supports,” he said.

“AI presents a tremendous new technology that opens a whole new opportunity for knowledge generation and idea creation to improve teaching practices. This convergence of humans and AI working together is the future. Getting started now will ensure teachers and students build the familiarity they need to excel in this new space.”

Mr Veerman said the emergence of navigation apps is an example of how a seemingly simple idea has changed the way we live our lives. “With maps, we initially thought, this is amazing, I don’t have to look at this paper map anymore “But what actually happened was much further reaching, it’s not just a better map, it’s changed the way we see and explore our  world. AI is going to be a hundred fold more than this.”

This generation of learners will be at the forefront of the next big revolution in how we live our lives. Teaching them the skills to safely and effectively leverage these new technologies is the next big challenge for our educators.

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