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Learning to Chat, Chatting to Learn: Thoughts About ChatGPT, LLMs, and AI in Education



There are three reactions to ChatGPT in the education sector and society more broadly: ignoring it, banning it or embracing it. In my view, only one of those responses is correct. However, embracing this new technology can manifest in various forms. As this technology is so novel, distinct from previous advancements, and rapidly evolving, no one knows the best approach to using it. We can and should start thinking about how to use AI in education.


What is ChatGPT?


All new technology comes with lots of new names and acronyms. You've probably heard of ChatGPT. Think of this as the brand name of a type of technology called LLM — I'll deal with these acronyms later. It's similar to how we say 'Hoover' when we mean vacuum cleaner, 'Kleenex' when we mean tissue or 'Post-it' when we mean sticky notes.


The general name for the technology is a Large Language Model (LLM). No one can predict the future, but I'm confident LLMs will quickly become an integral part of society. Whether this will be ChatGPT or some other "brand" is unclear and, in many ways, unimportant. Currently, ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI and backed by Microsoft, is ahead of its competitors.


GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, since you ask!


Here's how ChatGPT describes itself after a series of prompts to guide it to the content I was looking for (more on prompting later):

ChatGPT is an advanced computer program that uses artificial intelligence to understand and generate human-like text. It's designed to process and respond to written language in a way that mimics human conversation, acting like a virtual assistant. This technology has accumulated vast amounts of knowledge from various sources, such as books, articles, and websites, up to September 2021.
Beyond merely retrieving information, ChatGPT can also perform various tasks, such as helping to draft emails, providing suggestions for creative writing, or assisting with problem-solving in different contexts. Its ability to generate text and interact with users makes it a versatile tool that can adapt to a wide range of situations and support diverse needs. However, it's important to note that its knowledge is not always up-to-date, and it may not have information on events or developments that have occurred since its last training update.

I've been using it daily in my work, and for personal tasks for several weeks and I think of it as a colleague who doesn't complain, doesn't get tired, and is very knowledgeable about most topics. It's mainly useful to help me do things rather than to do things for me. It works best when you can guide it on what to do.


I'll give some examples of how ChatGPT works and what it can do later in this article.


The Elephant in the Room: Cheating


Let's start with what's undoubtedly the biggest challenge in all areas of education—cheating on assessments. Of course, there's always been cheating. Those determined to gain an unfair advantage in assessments always found a way.


However, this new technology raises the problem to a much higher level. Any open-book assessment or coursework is virtually meaningless at the moment, as ChatGPT can tackle any question that's asked in an assessment.


And no, assessors will not be able to tell what's AI-generated and what isn't. Of course, if a student who's usually 'average' at best in history suddenly comes up with a thoughtful, well-written, well-reasoned critique of the causes of World War II, the teacher will notice! But students of all ages, including children, will quickly learn that you can guide ChatGPT to write in whatever tone, style, and level you want. You'll see this in action later in this article.


How we assess progress in any educational setting is going to be the biggest challenge we face when dealing with AI in education. Invigilated exams seems to be the only safe option at the moment.


Another concern deals with homework and practice exercises. The purpose of these tasks is to gain experience and knowledge through practice. Motivated adult learners will understand this. For example, I'm sure that participants who join The Python Coding Programme, which I run for adults who want to learn to code, will not be using ChatGPT to work out the exercises I assign to them! They chose to attend the Programme because they're motivated to learn to code in Python and understand the importance of working on exercises independently.


But what about school children? The temptation will be there for all children. And some are more likely to succumb to it than others. There's a possibility that this technology could widen the divide between high-achieving students and those who need more support. The high-achieving students, who have a positive attitude towards learning, will understand the role of homework and how cheating is counterproductive. They are also the ones who can harness this technology to learn further. Other students may struggle further, as fewer homework tasks will be effective for them.


Helping Students to Learn


Earlier in this article, I discussed the need to embrace this technology. Banning it won't work, and ignoring it is not possible. I feel that educational settings need to start prioritising how to teach students to use this technology responsibly and effectively. And it also has the potential to engage more students in more subjects.


Here are some ideas, but I'm sure there are many more.


Using ChatGPT to assist with writing essays

No, I don't mean asking ChatGPT to write the essay!


Here's an initial idea for a homework task in which a student needs to write a story. Note that the final submission by the student in this example is the entire chat with ChatGPT. I'll make a case for this soon:


 

Write a story called "The Magic School Bus: My imaginary Trip to Outer Space". Follow these steps:

  1. Write an outline of your story

  2. Submit your outline to ChatGPT and ask it to give you feedback. Use this prompt to ask for feedback: <prompt chosen by the teacher to make sure it's consistent with learning outcomes and the same for all students>

  3. Summarise the key points you learned from ChatGPT's feedback and write them down in the chat so they're part of your final submission

  4. Re-write the outline using the feedback from ChatGPT and write it down in the chat so it's part of your final submission

  5. Write your story

  6. Submit your story to ChatGPT and ask for feedback. Use this prompt to ask for feedback: <prompt chosen by the teacher to make sure it's consistent with learning outcomes and the same for all students>

  7. Make changes to your story and paste your final story into your chat

  8. Upload your entire conversation with ChatGPT from beginning to end as your homework submission

 

Why does this work?

  • The students get feedback on their work right away, while doing the homework. This means they can implement changes from this feedback immediately and produce a better final output

  • The feedback, and acting on that feedback, becomes an integral part of the task

  • An important aspect of this workflow is that the students submit the entire conversation with ChatGPT. This conversation has both drafts of the outline and both versions of the essay. This makes it a lot more "cheat-proof" than just submitting the final essay, as a student would need to find a way of faking a whole ChatGPT conversation which is more work than doing the actual homework!

From the teacher's perspective, ChatGPT is acting as an assistant, helping the students "at home" while doing the homework. And the quality of the final material will be higher, and teachers will need to spend less time providing their own feedback to students.


Here's a sample of how this chat may look like. I'm showing only part of the homework below. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


Note: These are just experiments at this stage. A lot of thinking and further experimentation can go into the process of selecting what prompts to submit to get the required outputs and outcomes.


 

Student Prompt: Your role is to help a 10-year-old improve their story-writing skills. I will submit the outline written by the student and you should give feedback about the structure of the story and content of the story. Include points that are good and should be kept in the final version and points that should be improved.

Outline from student: """ Title: "The Magic School Bus: My Imaginry Trip to Outer Space" Plan: Intrduction: Start with waking up and finding a golden tickit for a magic school bus trip to space

Going to school: Meet frends at school, excited to share the news about the trip

Boarding the magic bus: Describe the bus and how it turns into a rocket ship

Liftoff! Write about the countdown and how it feels to blast off into space

Explring the Moon: Land on the moon, hop around in low gravity, and see the Earth from far away

Mars Adventur: Visit Mars, see the red sand, and talk about the robots that explore it Saturn's Rings Fly through Saturn's rings, describe the ice and rocks, and how colourful they are

Meeting Alien Frends: Find friendly aliens, share stories about Earth and their planet

Heading back to Earth: Say goodbye to alien friends, board the bus, and journey back home Back at school Bus lands back at school, we share our amazing adventure with our classmates

Conclusion: End the story with thoughts about the trip and how it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience """

ChatGPT Reponse: Feedback on the structure and content of the story: Good points:

  1. The introduction is engaging and captures the reader's attention with the magical school bus trip to space.

  2. The story has a clear progression, taking the reader on a journey through different parts of outer space.

  3. Including various space destinations, like the Moon, Mars, and Saturn's rings, adds excitement and variety to the story.

  4. The meeting with friendly aliens is a nice touch that adds an element of fun and surprise.

  5. The conclusion is strong, as it reflects on the extraordinary experience and creates a lasting impression.

Points for improvement:

  1. In the introduction, consider providing a bit more context about the main character and why they received the golden ticket.

  2. When describing each space destination, try to include more sensory details to help the reader visualise the scenes better (e.g., what the characters see, hear, and feel).

  3. During the visit to Mars, consider elaborating on the interaction with the robots and what they might learn from each other.

  4. When meeting the friendly aliens, develop their characters more by describing their appearance, language, and culture.

  5. In the conclusion, consider mentioning any lessons the main character may have learned from the adventure, such as the value of friendship or the importance of exploration and curiosity.

Lastly, remember to correct spelling and grammar errors as you work on the final version of your story. Keep up the great work, and enjoy writing your space adventure!

 


Using ChatGPT to provide clarification and examples of certain topics

One of the great features of this technology is that it can interpret information and present it in different styles and aimed at different audiences.


For example, let's assume we have two students learning about forces in Physics. One is in Year 5 (age 9-10), and the other is studying in Year 13 (age 17-18), preparing for their A'Level Physics exam.


First, the Year 5 student. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


 

Student Prompt: I am a student in Year 5 (age 9) and I'm learning about forces in science. Can you give me a brief summary of this topic

ChatGPT Reponse: Of course! Forces are pushes or pulls that can cause an object to move, change direction, or stop. In Year 5 science, you'll typically learn about different types of forces and their effects on objects. Here's a brief summary of some key concepts:

  1. Gravity: This is the force that pulls objects towards the Earth. It's why things fall down when we drop them, and it's also responsible for keeping us on the ground.

  2. Friction: This is a force that opposes motion between two surfaces in contact with each other. Friction can slow down or stop moving objects. It's the reason why it's harder to slide on a rough surface than on a smooth one.

  3. Air resistance: This is a type of friction that occurs when an object moves through the air. It can slow down moving objects, like when a parachute opens and creates air resistance to slow a person's fall.

  4. Magnetic force: This is the force that attracts or repels objects made of certain materials, like iron. Magnets have two poles (north and south) that can either attract or repel each other.

  5. Pushes and pulls: Everyday actions like opening a door, riding a bike, or playing tug-of-war involve forces. When you push or pull something, you're applying a force to it.

  6. Balanced and unbalanced forces: When forces acting on an object are equal and opposite, they're called balanced forces, and the object's motion doesn't change. Unbalanced forces cause an object to change its motion, such as speeding up, slowing down, or changing direction.

By learning about these forces and how they work, you'll better understand the world around you and the science behind everyday activities.

 

Note the level of detail and the terminology used by ChatGPT in this response. And the student can carry on with the conversation and ask more questions about the topic.


Now, here's the same question but from an older student. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


 

Student Prompt: I am a student in Year 13 (age 17) and I'm learning about forces for my Physics A' Level. Can you give me a brief summary of this topic

ChatGPT Reponse: Certainly! At the A-Level Physics stage, you'll explore forces in more depth, building on the foundational knowledge you gained in earlier years. Here's a brief summary of some key concepts in A-Level Physics related to forces:

  1. Newton's Laws of Motion: These three laws form the basis of classical mechanics and describe the relationship between a body's motion and the forces acting upon it.

    • First Law (Inertia): An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion at a constant velocity unless acted upon by a net external force.

    • Second Law (F = ma): The net force acting on an object is equal to the object's mass multiplied by its acceleration (F = ma).

    • Third Law (Action and Reaction): For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


  1. Gravitational force: This force acts between all objects with mass, attracting them towards each other. It's described by Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation, which states that the gravitational force between two objects is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centres.

  2. Friction: This force opposes the relative motion or tendency of such motion between two surfaces in contact. Friction can be classified into two types: static friction (between stationary objects) and kinetic friction (between moving objects).

  3. Tension: This is the force exerted by a rope, cable, or similar object when it's stretched or pulled taut. Tension always acts along the direction of the rope or cable.

  4. Normal force: This is the perpendicular force exerted by a surface on an object in contact with it. The normal force acts to balance the weight or other forces acting on the object.

  5. Elastic force: This force arises when a material (such as a spring) is stretched or compressed. It's described by Hooke's Law, which states that the force exerted by a spring is proportional to the displacement from its equilibrium position (F = kx, where k is the spring constant and x is the displacement).

  6. Drag and air resistance: These forces oppose the motion of an object through a fluid, such as air or water. Drag and air resistance depend on factors like the object's shape, size, and velocity, as well as the properties of the fluid.

  7. Centripetal force: This is the net force that keeps an object moving in a circular path. Centripetal force always points towards the centre of the circle and can result from gravitational, tension, or other forces.

  8. Free-body diagrams: These are graphical representations of the forces acting on an object, which can help you analyze the object's motion and equilibrium.

By understanding these concepts, you'll develop a solid foundation in classical mechanics and be well-prepared to tackle more advanced topics in A-Level Physics.

 

The response is very different now and more appropriate for the level of detail and difficulty needed for this student. Let's try a follow-up question in the chat with the 17 year old. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


 

Student Prompt: Expand on Newton's Second Law and give me 10 examples where we see this in action in practice

ChatGPT Reponse: Newton's Second Law states that the net force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration (F = ma). This law highlights the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration, and is fundamental to understanding how forces affect the motion of objects. Here are 10 examples of Newton's Second Law in action:

  1. Pushing a shopping trolley: When you apply a force to a shopping trolley, it accelerates. The greater the force applied, the greater the acceleration, and the more massive the trolley, the lower the acceleration for the same applied force.

  2. Hitting a golf ball: When a golfer strikes a golf ball with a club, the force exerted on the ball causes it to accelerate rapidly. The mass of the ball and the force applied by the club determine the ball's acceleration.

  3. Car acceleration: When a car accelerates, the engine applies a force on the wheels, causing the car to move forward. The acceleration depends on the force exerted by the engine and the mass of the car.

  4. Skydiving: As a skydiver falls, gravity exerts a force on them. This force, minus air resistance, causes the skydiver to accelerate until they reach terminal velocity, at which point the net force becomes zero.

  5. A football being kicked: When a football is kicked, the force from the player's foot causes the ball to accelerate. The mass of the ball and the force of the kick determine the acceleration.

  6. Bouncing a basketball: When a basketball is bounced, the force exerted by the player's hand causes the ball to accelerate towards the ground. The ball's mass and the applied force determine the acceleration.

  7. Tug-of-war: In a game of tug-of-war, each team exerts a force on the rope. The net force on the rope determines its acceleration, which depends on the mass of the rope and the total force applied by both teams.

  8. A rocket launch: During a rocket launch, the force exerted by the burning fuel causes the rocket to accelerate. The rocket's mass and the force produced by the fuel combustion determine its acceleration.

  9. Lifting a weight: When lifting a weight, the upward force exerted by your muscles must equal the downward force of gravity on the weight. The mass of the weight and the force applied determine the acceleration of the weight as you lift it.

  10. Swinging a pendulum: When you pull a pendulum to one side and release it, the force of gravity causes it to accelerate towards its equilibrium position. The mass of the pendulum and the gravitational force acting on it determine the acceleration.

In each of these examples, Newton's Second Law demonstrates the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration, helping us understand and predict the motion of objects under various conditions.

 

Generating ideas

ChatGPT is a great assistant when it comes to brainstorming ideas. Of course, you could ask it to generate ideas from scratch. But, even better, if the student already has some thoughts on what to do and wants to explore the ideas further, he or she can bounce those ideas off ChatGPT.


Here's a sample conversation. A student needs to pick an event from World War II to write about and explore its significance in the War overall. They can pick any event from the War.


These are the prompts I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual outputs it gave me (GPT-4). I'm showing the outputs in full to demonstrate the level of detail we can achieve and how it's useful in a brainstorming scenario. Note in particular the last student prompt:

 

Student Prompt: I need to choose an event in World War II. I need your assistance with shortlisting which event to write about. I'm thinking about the war efforts in the Mediterranean around the period just before Italy surrendered. List 15 key events from the War that fit this description

ChatGPT Response: Here's a list of 15 key events from World War II that took place in the Mediterranean region around the period just before Italy surrendered:

  1. Operation Torch (November 1942): The Allied invasion of French North Africa, marking the first major offensive by the United States in the European theatre.

  2. Second Battle of El Alamein (October-November 1942): A turning point in the North African Campaign, where British General Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army defeated German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.

  3. The Casablanca Conference (January 1943): An Anglo-American summit where Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt established the strategy for the next phase of the war, including an invasion of Sicily.

  4. The Tunisian Campaign (November 1942-May 1943): A series of battles in Tunisia that resulted in the Axis forces' surrender and the end of the North African Campaign.

  5. The Allied Invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) (July-August 1943): A large-scale amphibious and airborne operation to capture the island of Sicily, paving the way for an Allied invasion of Italy.

  6. The Bombing of Rome (July 1943): A series of air raids by the Allies targeting Rome, aimed at weakening Italian morale and disrupting military infrastructure.

  7. The fall of Mussolini (July 1943): The arrest and removal of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from power, following Italy's deteriorating position in the war.

  8. The Allied Invasion of Italy (Operation Avalanche) (September 1943): The amphibious landing of the British Eighth Army and the American Fifth Army on the Italian mainland near Salerno.

  9. The Italian Armistice (September 1943): The signing of a secret armistice between Italy and the Allies, marking Italy's surrender and the beginning of its cooperation with the Allies against Germany.

  10. Operation Achse (September 1943): A German military plan to disarm Italian forces and occupy Italy after the Italian surrender.

  11. The Battle of Leros (November 1943): A German operation to capture the Greek island of Leros from British, Italian, and Greek defenders.

  12. The Battle of Monte Cassino (January-May 1944): A series of four battles fought by the Allies to break through the German defensive line known as the Gustav Line, which blocked the path to Rome.

  13. The Anzio Landings (Operation Shingle) (January 1944): An amphibious assault aimed at outflanking the Gustav Line and creating a foothold for an attack on Rome.

  14. The Dodecanese Campaign (September-November 1943): A failed attempt by the British to seize control of the Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea.

  15. The Battle of Ortona (December 1943): A costly battle fought between German paratroopers and Canadian forces in the Italian town of Ortona, as part of the larger Italian Campaign.

These events offer various perspectives on the war efforts in the Mediterranean, focusing on different aspects of the conflict, from land battles to political developments. Choose the one that interests you the most and delve deeper into its historical significance and impact on the course of the war.

Student Prompt: Rank these from most significant to least significant, as best as you can

ChatGPT Response: While ranking historical events can be subjective, I'll provide a ranking based on their overall impact on the war and their significance in shaping the Mediterranean campaign:

  1. Second Battle of El Alamein (October-November 1942)

  2. The Italian Armistice (September 1943)

  3. The fall of Mussolini (July 1943)

  4. The Casablanca Conference (January 1943)

  5. The Allied Invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) (July-August 1943)

  6. Operation Torch (November 1942)

  7. The Tunisian Campaign (November 1942-May 1943)

  8. The Battle of Monte Cassino (January-May 1944)

  9. The Allied Invasion of Italy (Operation Avalanche) (September 1943)

  10. The Anzio Landings (Operation Shingle) (January 1944)

  11. The Bombing of Rome (July 1943)

  12. Operation Achse (September 1943)

  13. The Battle of Leros (November 1943)

  14. The Dodecanese Campaign (September-November 1943)

  15. The Battle of Ortona (December 1943)

Again, this ranking is open to interpretation, and different historians might emphasize different events based on their research focus and perspectives.

Student Prompt: Give me 10 key events in number 5, The Allied Invasion of Sicily

ChatGPT Response:

  1. Planning and preparation (January-July 1943): The Allies devised Operation Husky, a large-scale amphibious and airborne operation, under the leadership of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the strategic objective of opening the Mediterranean to Allied shipping and weakening Italy's position in the war.

  2. Airborne assault (July 9-10, 1943): British and American paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines to secure key objectives, such as bridges and airfields, ahead of the main amphibious invasion. Due to various issues, including strong winds and navigational errors, many paratroopers were scattered and unable to complete their objectives.

  3. Amphibious landings (July 10, 1943): The main assault on Sicily began with British and Canadian forces landing on the southeast coast, while American forces landed on the southern and western coasts. The landings were successful, despite heavy resistance from Axis defenders.

  4. Capture of Syracuse (July 10-12, 1943): British and Canadian forces captured the strategic port city of Syracuse, which provided a crucial supply base for the Allied campaign on the island.

  5. Battle of Gela (July 11-12, 1943): The US 1st Infantry Division faced a counterattack by German and Italian forces near the town of Gela, but they were able to repel the attack and secure their beachhead.

  6. Battle of Biscari (July 14, 1943): American and British forces fought against German and Italian troops near the Biscari airfield. The Allies captured the airfield, which was then used to support the rest of the Sicily campaign.

  7. The race for Messina (July-August 1943): As the Allies advanced across Sicily, their primary objective was to reach the northeastern port of Messina before Axis forces could evacuate. This race resulted in several battles and skirmishes across the island.

  8. Operation Lehrgang (July 17, 1943): German forces launched a counteroffensive against the American 45th Infantry Division near Caltanissetta but were eventually pushed back, further solidifying the Allied foothold on the island.

  9. Battle of Troina (July 31-August 6, 1943): A major engagement between American forces and German defenders in the town of Troina, which was heavily fortified and difficult to capture. After several days of intense fighting, the Allies finally managed to break through and secure the town.

  10. Evacuation of Axis forces (August 11-17, 1943): The Axis forces, under the command of General Hans-Valentin Hube, managed to evacuate the majority of their troops across the Strait of Messina to mainland Italy, avoiding capture by the advancing Allies. The Allies ultimately took control of Sicily on August 17, 1943.

Student Prompt: Speculate: what could have happened over the following 12 months if Syracuse hadn't been captured in 1943. I understand this will just be speculation and you can't accurately predict alternative histories

ChatGPT Response: Speculating about alternative histories is always a challenge, as there are numerous variables that could influence the outcome. That being said, if Syracuse hadn't been captured in 1943, the following possible scenarios might have occurred over the next 12 months:

  1. Prolonged Sicilian campaign: Without control of the strategic port of Syracuse, the Allies would have faced difficulties in supplying their troops on the island. This could have resulted in a longer and more drawn-out campaign, with higher casualties on both sides.

  2. Delayed invasion of mainland Italy: The successful capture of Sicily provided a launchpad for the Allied invasion of mainland Italy (Operation Avalanche). If the Sicilian campaign had been prolonged, it's possible that the invasion of Italy would have been delayed, potentially allowing the Axis powers more time to reinforce their positions and prepare for an Allied assault.

  3. Change in strategic priorities: Faced with a prolonged campaign in Sicily, the Allies might have reconsidered their strategic priorities, potentially shifting their focus towards other theatres of the war. This could have impacted the overall timeline and course of World War II, with consequences for other campaigns and operations.

  4. Increased German commitment to the Mediterranean: A more protracted battle in Sicily might have prompted Germany to commit more resources to the Mediterranean theatre. This could have resulted in a more robust German defence in Italy, potentially altering the outcome of the Italian campaign.

  5. Impact on morale and public opinion: A longer and more difficult campaign in Sicily could have affected the morale of both Allied and Axis troops, as well as the opinions of the general public. A drawn-out campaign with higher casualties might have led to increased anti-war sentiment or calls for a change in strategy among the Allied nations.

  6. Possible diplomatic repercussions: A prolonged campaign in Sicily could have influenced the diplomatic landscape of the war. For example, it might have affected the relationships between the Allied powers or prompted neutral countries to reconsider their positions.

Ultimately, it is impossible to know for certain how the course of history might have changed if Syracuse hadn't been captured in 1943. However, these speculative scenarios provide a glimpse into the potential impact of such an event on the wider war effort.

 

Asking ChatGPT to confirm the student has the correct understanding

A student is learning about a particular topic. How do they know if they've understood the concept properly?


The student could write a paragraph in their own words explaining the topic and ask ChatGPT to confirm if their understanding is correct.


Here's an example. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


 

Student Prompt: Your role is that of a Chemistry tutor. I am a student in Year 7 in the UK (Age 11-12) and your role is to assess how well I understood the topic about acids and alkali. I will write a short paragraph summarising my knowledge about this topic. You should provide an assessment of how well I understand the topic, point out things that are incorrect or inaccurate. My paragraph: """Acids and Alkalis are both corrosive but are very different. We measure acids and alkalis using indicators, the most common on being Universal Indicator. Some indicators work better than others. Some can only differentiate between an acid and an alkali, but some can be more specific. The pH scale measures the acidity and alkalinity of substances. The pH scale goes from 1 to 15, with 7 being neutral, not an acid or an alkali. The lower the pH of a substance is, the more acidic it is. If the pH of a substance is higher, it is more alkaline."""

ChatGPT Reponse: Feedback on your understanding of acids and alkalis: Overall, your understanding of acids, alkalis, and the pH scale is quite good for a Year 7 student. You have correctly explained the use of indicators and the pH scale to measure the acidity and alkalinity of substances. However, there are a few points that can be clarified:

  1. The pH scale actually goes from 0 to 14, not 1 to 15.

  2. Instead of saying "Acids and Alkalis are both corrosive but are very different," it would be better to say that "Acids and alkalis can be corrosive, depending on their strength, but they are different types of substances." Not all acids and alkalis are corrosive, as their corrosiveness depends on their concentration and strength.

  3. When discussing the use of indicators, you could provide examples, such as litmus paper (which can only differentiate between acids and alkalis) and universal indicator (which can provide more specific information about pH levels).

  4. You mentioned that "some indicators work better than others." It would be helpful to clarify that different indicators are suitable for different applications, depending on their sensitivity and specificity.

By addressing these points, your understanding of acids, alkalis, and the pH scale will be more accurate and comprehensive. Keep up the good work!

 

Note that the student could carry on with the conversation. ChatGPT and similar technologies work best when you have follow-up questions.


A student could keep this Chemistry chat open and return to it every time they're studying and revising Chemistry. Over time, the chat will get better at helping that particular student.


Understanding the context of some writing

Let me jump straight into an example. Let's assume a student is reading some text and they read the following dialogue:

Frank: "I'm starving. You know what I need? A sandwich, a sandwich. My kingdom for a sandwich" Claire: "If you don't find one soon, I'll come and visit you in the car park in York you're likely to end up in"

The student understands there's some context behind this exchange but doesn't get it. So he or she asks ChatGPT. This is a prompt I submitted to ChatGPT and the actual output it gave me (GPT-4):


 

Student Prompt: Explain the context of this dialogue: """ Frank: "I'm starving. You know what I need? A sandwich, a sandwich. My kingdom for a sandwich" Claire: "If you don't find one soon, I'll come and visit you in the car park in York you're likely to end up in" """

ChatGPT Response: In this dialogue, Frank expresses that he is very hungry, so much so that he uses a phrase adapted from Shakespeare's play "Richard III." In the original line, Richard III exclaims, "A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Frank substitutes "a sandwich" for "a horse," implying that he would give up anything for a sandwich right now.

Claire's response is a witty reference to the historical fate of Richard III. After his death, Richard III's remains were lost for centuries until they were finally discovered in 2012 beneath a car park in York, England. By saying that she will visit Frank in a car park in York, Claire humorously implies that if he doesn't find a sandwich soon, he may suffer a fate similar to Richard III's—being lost and eventually found in an unlikely place.

The dialogue showcases a lighthearted exchange between the two characters, with references to history and literature adding depth to their conversation.

 

This is a perfect example of why ChatGPT and similar technologies are not just a replacement for Google and other search engines.


Final Words


This article is too long already. It's a shame, as I have plenty more ideas. I'll will write follow-up posts with more of these as I develop them further. In particular, I think this technology can be used to increase engagement and make learning more personalised for each student.


Another important aspect of using ChatGPT I haven't discussed is scepticism. Not everything it says is correct, and as we learn to use this technology, we'll need to learn how to corroborate what it says.


I also haven't discussed how this technology could directly assist teachers and other educators.


As this technology advances rapidly, the education sector will need to adapt just as fast—as do all other sectors in society.


I've discussed the issues with assessments and homework tasks. These are the first challenges which need to be addressed quickly. However, what comes next is more important. Once we look beyond assessments and homework, we can start finding ways of improving education for everyone, at all ages.


There is a risk that ChatGPT and AI in education more generally can widen the gap between high-achieving students and students needing additional support. As with other skills, some students will master using ChatGPT to aid their learning more than others. We should most definitely not hold back the high-achievers. We should also find ways of making sure this technology provides the additional support that other students need.


It's an exciting time ahead for education.



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