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Approachable AI can enhance education but has limitations; causes concern

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Subjects & Skills

Computer science

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Web

Pros: You can generate a decent draft of a lesson plan or essay in seconds.

Cons: You don't have to chat long before you encounter errors, inaccuracies, and other limitations.

Bottom Line: More than a novelty, ChatGPT offers educational value with time-saving tasks and personalized learning opportunities.

If you ask ChatGPT for ideas on how teachers can use it in the classroom, it'll share a long list of ideas. Some suggestions include practicing conversing in a foreign language, debugging code, editing and proofreading, clarifying scientific or mathematical concepts, and prewriting activities like character development. These are all great ideas, but keep in mind that students may not fully understand what ChatGPT can and cannot do, or even understand the concept of generative AI models. Before you introduce ChatGPT into your classroom, consider providing some background information and host a discussion about the pros and cons of AI models. Code.org, Khan Academy, and The AI Education Project offer a variety of videos and lessons about AI that teachers can use to provide a common understanding. Then introduce ChatGPT in a whole-group setting, modeling the platform and perhaps testing its limits. Be sure to get parental permission before asking students to use ChatGPT independently.

ChatGPT can be used to build quizzes and tests, and you can manipulate the responses based on your class's specific needs. Since the tool can produce inaccurate answers, you can create exercises for determining whether or not information is credible and accurate. ChatGPT can also be used as a translator and can even take into consideration the context of the translation situation (e.g., "I am at the supermarket in Tokyo and would like to ask where I can find an apple in Japanese."). Language learners can use the chat to practice engaging in conversation. With a single prompt, it can generate stories, songs, and poems. 

For student use, it can explain concepts, and you can specify the grade level you'd like the response to be in and the word count you'd like to see. It can be used to generate supplementary examples or analogies. Students can also request feedback on their writing and get detailed responses on what they can improve on. For more ideas about how to integrate AI into your classroom, you can check out ChatGPT's article about teaching with AI. You can use a program like The AI Education Project to teach students about the importance of writing tailored prompts in order to receive the most helpful responses. Consider getting started with an intro lesson

Teachers of any grade level can utilize ChatGPT as a professional and organizational tool. Ask it to write a standards-based lesson plan, or to recommend classroom resources for teaching a particular topic (although it doesn't always show where it's pulling information from). You can use ChatGPT to write a sample text, perhaps one with grammatical errors that students will correct during the lesson. ChatGPT can also develop a schedule or write letters to parents. It's easy to think of ChatGPT as a personal search engine, but if you think creatively, it can be your personal assistant.

Editor's note: Never input personal, sensitive, or confidential information into a generative AI model. Any information you put in can become publicly available and used as training data for future iterations of the tool. If there is ever any doubt about whether or not to enter particular information, do not include it. Be sure to set your privacy settings accordingly before using the tool.

ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI. "GPT" stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer. For the purpose of this review, we took a look at GPT-4. It's designed to understand and generate human-like text based on the input it receives. ChatGPT is trained on a vast amount of text from the internet and various sources, which enables it to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses. Many companies purchase access to integrate ChatGPT into their software for a variety of reasons, but anyone age 13+ can interact with ChatGPT in a conversational way by creating a free account. Anyone under age 18 must have parent permission to use the platform.

ChatGPT cannot search the internet and does not have access to recent data, including current events. It learns from users and may provide inaccurate or confusing information, and does not cite or link to the source of its data, which leads to a slew of ethical concerns. Users can correct ChatGPT by clicking thumb-up or thumb-down icons on each of the responses, and can provide feedback on any response to help improve the model. If you don't like a ChatGPT response, you can ask your question differently, or tell ChatGPT to regenerate its response. ChatGPT will save your chats for you to view or continue later. You can share chats with others via a link, as well as export and delete chats.

Though it may be the best-known generative AI model, ChatGPT is one of many models available to the general public. It is reasonable to expect that AI models will continue to grow in their variety, complexity, and accessibility. Chances are, your students are already using ChatGPT and would benefit from some thoughtful discussion and instruction on this and similar platforms. While large language models like ChatGPT are impressive, they are not human, or even as all-knowing as their science fiction AI counterparts (remember Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey?). ChatGPT can be a useful time-saving tool. As you use it, you'll discover ways it can work for you, but don't expect it to be perfect. It will misunderstand your requests, give out completely wrong answers, and quite damagingly reflect the same biases as the data used to train it.

Because it's so popular, it's a good idea to set clear classroom expectations about ChatGPT whether you are encouraging students to use it or not. When ChatGPT launched, many schools immediately thought of all the ways students would use it to cheat. This is a valid concern, as many students do use ChatGPT to cheat on assignments -- and while there are plagiarism detectors available, they are not foolproof. We also offer lessons about AI and plagiarism for teachers who want to address the topic directly. But as more educators have tested the product, there has been a shift in thinking toward how ChatGPT can improve the learning process and support productivity. Like most tools not necessarily designed for education, its true potential lies in the user's creativity. It's missing reporting features, a dashboard, collaborative elements, and other features you'd expect in an educational tool. However, if you ask it to do something amazing, you just might be impressed.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

While its scope is impressive, ChatGPT is just a text chat. There are no visuals of any kind, so once the novelty wears off, students may lose interest.


ChatGPT works best for text-based tasks and wasn't necessarily designed for education. It offers some instructional advice, but it isn't designed to replace a tutor or textbook.


The simplistic interface is easy to use but may not work well with screen readers.

Common Sense reviewer
Melissa Powers
Melissa Powers School Library and Technology Specialist

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