Coast school district embraces OpenAI chatbot, ChatGPT

Pass Christian Public School District embraces technology for the greater good.
Pass Christian Public School District embraces technology for the greater good.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 12:32 PM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - As the ever-growing artificial intelligence scene continues to expand around the world, offerings like ChatGPT continue to stir controversy.

Many schools are banning the chatbot technology because of its uncanny ability to do things like write reports and complete assignments.

Brandon Warden, the District Coach for Instructional Technology at the Pass Christian Public School District says his district has not only decided to use the OpenAI creation... but harness its abilities to educate students.

Pass Christian Public School District embraces technology for the greater good.

The opinion of ChatGPT depends on who you ask. Some people really don’t know what’s going on with this tech. Many school districts in the state, in the area this area of the country, and the nation are banning it because they’re just afraid of the capabilities that it may have may or may not have.

They’re also worried that students may be using the automatic generation instead of applying what they’re learning in the classroom to what they’re responsible for turning in.

“So with any new technology, it can be scary and also it can be used inappropriately,” Warden said. “So something that we’re embracing is the appropriate use of technology such as ChatGPT... something that we’re trying to embrace is teaching students and also teachers how to use this technology for good and to save time, as well as for creating resources that are relevant to our students today.”

The school district has not only trained their staff in ways to maximize the chatbot’s abilities; they’re using it to educate as well.

“I’ve seen firsthand in a classroom where a fifth grade teacher was able to... She was teaching about story elements and asked students to write out various story elements,” Warden said. “Then she went home and used ChatGPT to write out stories and then took those stories and gave them back out to each of the students. Then, the students were able to analyze the stories, that were inspired by their story elements, and as a group were able to isolate the story elements in front of their peers.”

It doesn’t stop with ChatGPT. OpenAI has another piece of tech called DALL-E.

“[It’s great to be] able to be in front of students and show them the capabilities and powers of AI such as Dall-E and ask them specific questions. For example, what sort of animal are we looking at today,” asked Warden. “What should the animal be wearing? Where is the animal located? And then being able to put this into this artificial intelligence and have it create an image for the students to see. This is great because now they have that picture. Now we may ask them to write a story based off the picture that they have created.”

But what would happen if district leaders found that the all-knowing artificial intelligence software didn’t live up to the hype? Or worse... that it was not helping staff and students like they thought it would in the beginning?

“The number one drawback is it’s a new technology which means people are going to be scared of it,” Warden said. “Sometimes you just have to dive in, right? So, as of right now, we’re not blocking ChatGPT or these intelligent technologies. However, if we find that we need to to protect our students, we will. Another side of that is a big concern is plagiarism.”

Warden says a main factor in education has always been asking the right questions. He thinks new technology can help students learn how to better do that.

“Now we’re able to provide a technology that they have to ask the right question and include all the details to get the correct response or the response that they’re looking for. So [you may have] kids or students that are reading this thinking I don’t ever want to write a paper again,” Warden said.

“On the flip side of that, the essay that ChatGPT wrote was over a span of two weeks rather than three days, like the assignment originally stated,” Warden said. “So it’s a perfect example of how humans still have to be involved to better help students. We need them to ask better questions. So this is a perfect example of having students use this technology. They have to incorporate the right question and all the details to that question to receive the right answer.

“Those that Embrace this technology will always have a job,” Warden said. “Those that are scared of this [technology] will not.”

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