ChatGPT – Hero or Villain?

Author: Gerard Alford   Date Posted:20 February 2023 

The paramount issue is academic integrity, as the AI generated responses are difficult to detect through current online plagiarism scanners. The rise of AI generated content...

What’s this about?

Congratulations to the Australian School Librarian Association (ASLA) for hosting a very informative, timely and thought-provoking webinar on the Rise of AI generated contentethical, legal and practical implications last week.

The webinar, delivered by the team at Padua College Victoria (Luke Low, Diane Lewis and Shaun Price) gave well-informed insights into some of the issues associated with using AI generated content, with a particular focus on the Silicon Valley AI Open AI program released in Nov. 2022, ChatGPT

My first exploration of ChatGPT ( was to ask it to generate an essay explaining the causes and effects of bushfires in Australia (Yr.5) which it comfortably produced in 32 secs. I then asked it to produce 10 x MCQ on Bushfires (54 secs), a 1 hr lesson plan on Gases, Liquids and Solids (48 secs), an essay on the Eureka Rebellion, and a couple of speeches, both regenerated to make them more humourous (50 secs). All this material was produced in about 10 minutes.

OK, but what about the quality? The speeches were quite good and humourous! I was very impressed with the structure of the Yr.5 Science Lesson Plan on Gases, Liquids and Solids and the essays were all solid. It was enough to immediately see that this has vast ramifications for education, as students and teachers will no doubt be (are!) using this at some point and in some form.

The issues

The paramount issue is academic integrity, as the AI generated responses are difficult to detect through current online plagiarism scanners. If students do use it to produce their work, where is the development of their thinking and writing skills, and is their academic integrity severely compromised? The team from Padua College also raised concerns with media representations of gender stereotypes, misinformation, the availability of dangerous content and the potential for a lack of creativity and individualism in our schools. Also, users are supposed to be over 18yo to use the product, however, it is difficult to see this as a barrier to school students as, at this point, there is no mention of age in the sign-up process.

Some schools, such as St Paul’s School, Brisbane, (AFR, 30/01/2023) have embraced the technology, claiming that education can longer be just about content, but rather about what students can do with the content they learn – how can they apply it? Dr. Paul Browning, the Principal of St Paul’s School considers it as a chance to “develop creativity, entrepreneurialism, sustainability, innovation and inquiry.”

Where to from here?

The full ramifications are unknown. While all education departments in Australia have officially banned its use in schools, we may assume students are exploring its use as it is an open, free, and powerful software, producing quite well-modelled written work in seconds.

In the first instance, schools will need to discuss the whole concept of academic integrity and where academic misconduct is ascertained, they will need to decide if they will take a punitive or pastoral approach.

Secondly, they may need to look at it as a valuable tool and consider how they might utilise it in student learning structures. One can foresee that formative assessment will become even more important and a closely supervised process will become as important as the final product.

For teachers, one can immediately see time-burdening lesson plans being produced by ChatGPT as a starting point and with alterations made to-suit. And consider AI produced assessment exemplars, short quizzes, MCQs, True / False activities - produced in seconds.

Note: This article was NOT produced by ChatGPT – but why not ask it to produce a paper on ramifications of ChatGPT in schools. It will do so in seconds!

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