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Blog OpenAI CO:RE at UTARTU Published: 05 Mar 2023

What do faculty members think about using GPT-3 in the classroom?

Most academic faculty members appear to be cautiously optimistic about the potential of GPT-3 in the classroom. While some are excited about the potential of GPT-3 to provide students with more personalized learning experiences, others have raised questions about the ethical implications of using AI in the classroom. Many faculty members are also concerned about the potential for GPT-3 to be used to produce plagiarized content or to replace human instructors. Despite these concerns, most faculty members appear to recognize the potential of GPT-3 to enhance learning experiences and to provide students with more personalized, efficient instruction.

The AI game is on

Guess what: the title of this blog post is actually a prompt I inserted in OpenAI Playground, and the first paragraph is the exact response to my question generated by artificial intelligence. The text is as it is, without any editing or grammar correction. This answer to my question is so good as if the invisible ear was present when we had a discussion seminar with colleagues from the Institute of Social Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia, in early February, pondering the issue of letting artificial intelligence in the classroom. Maybe it was there indeed, overhearing, as we used the same OpenAI Playground during our seminar to test the capabilities and limitations of the AI…

A little bit of cautious…

We are indeed cautious – there is a reason for that. Several of us have tested current possibilities and have found out that there are some tasks where the AI can be really helpful: when summarizing a text, helping to overcome the ‘fear of white paper’, or providing a piece of short, encyclopaedia-like information about some well-known phenomenon or a person. But then again, it depends: on how well-known this phenomenon needs to be for the AI to present correct information. In some cases, the AI can start producing some true-looking facts – and if you are not familiar with the field, you may end up in serious trouble. The AI can also retrieve some answers for you – just like at the beginning of this post – but you do not know where exactly it got these answers. If you ask for references (you know, as one should have at the end of an essay or research paper), you may receive well-formatted ones, but… these may also be fake. And creativity and analytical thinking are still beyond the limitations of AI’s algorithms. I hope that you noticed an unnecessary repetition of a thought in the opening paragraph 😉

… and a little bit optimistic

It is also true that we are optimistic or at least curious. Instead of prohibiting the usage of AI in the classroom, we encourage colleagues to ensure a safe space for discussion and reflection for the students both at upper secondary schools and universities. In this learning space, we can test the strengths and limitations of AI together by asking critical and thought-provoking questions, to see through the various information-related illusions that AI generates for us. For science and any other creative or professional field to be credible, its’ principles must be transparent and even, especially when using AI. We need students, the future scientists, teachers, journalists, engineers, and many more to understand it as early as possible.

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Dr Krista Lepik is Lecturer of information science at the Institute of Social Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Her latest research focuses on the acceleration of social time in knowledge work contexts. Throughout the years, she has studied the various aspects of students' information behaviour – the topic of using AI in the classroom is a continuation of this journey.

The profile picture of the author has been generated by Deep Dream.

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