From writing class plans to communicating with parents, teachers are experimenting with AI, using ChatGPT and learning from each other
ChatGPT and its use in workplaces everywhere has put Artificial Intelligence (AI) firmly on the radar of the Australian government, with a review underway on how to ensure it is used safely and responsibly.
Many Australian schools aren’t waiting for the government and have already moved to ban ChatGPT, at least until they figure out some guardrails.
Meanwhile, curious teachers the world over are getting in and experimenting. You can find them on Facebook groups and other social forums, swapping tips on what does and doesn’t work and how to write the best prompts for different AI tools.
Though it’s still early days for the technology, large language models like ChatGPT have the potential to disrupt all workplaces, and schools are no exception.
Some teachers say ChatGPT can be a quizmaster, a storyteller and a homework helper, while others worry it will be used to do work teachers themselves should be doing.
One of the busiest threads on the chatGPT for Teachers Facebook group is “Why is it okay for teachers to use ChatGPT, but not students?”
Here are 5 ways teachers are already using ChatGPT
1. Creative lesson planning
ChatGPT can be used to generate an entire lesson plan, but it’s unlikely to deliver exactly what a teacher wants, so many are using it to assist with modifying existing plans, or tailoring them to particular student groups. They’re prompting it to build worksheets or make slide presentations, or just add some fresh ideas to plans they’ve become tired of.
2. Creating quizzes and tests for revision or discussion
Large language models are good at summarising or simplifying chunks of text, and so can be helpful in creating quizzes, or lists of discussion questions based on specific subject matter. You can ask them to write an interesting opening sentence for a story, or brainstorm classroom activities or write recaps based on lesson notes.
3. Sugar coating constructive feedback
Communicating with parents and writing multiple report cards keeps teachers busy, so it’s no surprise they’re looking at ChatGPT for ways to cut down on the menial parts of these tasks.
Some teachers are writing short, blunt report comments and asking ChatGPT to make them sound more constructive. Others are using it to craft diplomatic emails to parents, helping them sound more professional on days when they just don’t have it in them to sugar coat.
4. Curriculum alignment
Some education leaders are using ChatGPT to map their lessons to the curriculum and ensure the content aligns with curriculum standards.
5. Finding helpful educational resources online
At the very least, tools like ChatGPT are a very effective way of finding super specific information on the web, and are designed to give search engines a run for their money. You can ask them to find specific YouTube videos to help with a new class, or suggest books for teaching about diversity, for example.
It should go without saying, but putting student names into ChatGPT is a bad idea. The NSW Department of Education has developed some specific guidelines designed to protect students.
Your first experience with ChatGPT may be very disappointing. Keep trying with prompts – if you don’t get the response you were expecting, try a follow-on prompt, or reassess whether you have given it the context it needs, such as the audience you want it to write for.
Don’t accept the facts it presents, ChatGPT has been known to make things up – ask where stated facts came from and cross-check with reliable academic sources.
Check out this webinar from Harvard Business Publishing on how ChatGPT can make teaching easier and more effective. It includes a good explanation of how large language models work and how they’re evolving, so you can learn more about what they’re capable of. And what they can’t yet do well.
Try this handy guide of prompts for teachers using ChatGPT.
Join Facebook groups to connect with and learn from other teachers using ChatGPT
- AI & ChatGPT for Australian school leaders and teachers
- ChatGPT for teachers (largely US)
- The AI Classroom (from education publisher TeacherGoals)