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ChatGPT in the classroom: A school district perspective

Local schools share how they are dealing with ChatGPT showing up in their classrooms
ChatGPT is a form of artificial intelligence – accessible via the internet – that can be used to answer questions and even write whole essays. However, since no two answers or essays written by the AI are ever the same, it can be hard to detect exactly when it’s been used. That’s created challenges at universities across the country.
Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-14 16:54:43-04

NEENAH (NBC 26) — In a world where things can change faster than one can write an article or in its own words,

“In the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence, the ChatGPT is making waves. This cutting-edge language model, developed by OpenAI, is based on the gpt-3.5 architecture and is quickly becoming one of the most impressive language models available today.” -ChatGPT

ChatGPT has become a hot-button topic across the country within school districts and universities expressing their concern over the AI tool and in some cases, outright banning it.

Author and AI expert Thomas Fellows says banning the software might not be the best idea.

“If you look at when calculators came out decades ago, people were saying, oh they shouldn’t be using a calculator, but you’re going to have a calculator in the workforce, you’re going to have ChatGPT in the workforce, so schools should not ban ChatGPT,” said Thomas Fellows, author and AI expert.

Those against the use of the tool have one major concern - cheating - as ChatGPT is able to provide human-like text differently than other forms of AI.

Fellows explained why ChatGPT is able to act differently than most other AI forms.

“What makes ChatGPT different is that it’s able to think divergently. When I say divergently, I mean with a lot of creativity,” said Fellows. “The reason why it's able to think so creatively is because it’s an advanced algorithm.”

The advanced algorithm allows the AI tool to generate material that shows human emotion.

Just like around the country, many schools in Northeast Wisconsin are taking part in a conversation surrounding the use of ChatGPT in their classrooms.

“We became aware of it about six months ago and wanted to start getting ahead of it,” said Matt Anderson, the Neenah Joint School District I.T. Director. “ChatGPT is not something that’s five years down the road, it's today. So, our graduates today are going to meet ChatGPT as they move beyond Neenah."

Neenah Joint School District has blocked ChatGPT on students' school devices and the school’s network for now, but Anderson doesn’t think it will be blocked forever.

“I believe this will be a resource that can be used in the future as long as we recognize what the good parts of it are, the power that it has, but also what is the downside,” said Anderson.

On the flip side, Brillion Public Schools have yet to make adjustments for the AI tool.

In a statement, Corey Baumgartner, Brillion Public Schools District Administrator said,

"While we within education are starting to hear from others around the country about the student use of AI to create content, we are not seeing or advocating for its usage locally.
Our district, along with many others across our state, tends to use programs to analyze student work for academic integrity. While the definitions of and consequences for academic dishonesty, cheating, and plagiarism are identified within our parent/student handbooks, we currently do not have any district policies pertaining specifically to the use of programs such as ChatGPT,"

In an experiment, ChatGPT was asked what it thinks: should students be allowed to use ChatGPT?

The response: “It is up to the discretion of teachers or educational institutions to determine whether or not students are allowed to use ChatGPT.”