Story in Education Week on teachers and chatGPT


Alyson Klein published a story late last week on teachers and chatGPT—a “large language model” I played around with a bunch last week in preparation for sharing a few thoughts on this new technology. I had talked with Alyson before about the potential privacy risks to students associated with schools and districts social media activity.

The story is here. I tried to see things from the teacher perspective while recognizing the potential usefulness of chatGPT and tools like over a longer time horizon.

“I totally empathize with teachers who are like, ‘What the heck? It’s January! It’s been a crazy three years,’” Rosenberg said. “‘And I want to make sure that my students are understanding writing or English language arts concepts that I want them to learn and that [they] are expected to learn based on our state standards. I can’t radically transform my classroom just yet.’”

Educators will ultimately need to figure out how to teach writing in a way that incorporates tools like ChatGPT, said Joshua Rosenberg, an assistant professor of STEM education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

I also shared some skepticism about tools that purport to detect GPT-written text:

Teachers who rely on these detectors need to be aware of their limitations, Rosenberg said.

It would be unfortunate for a detector to erroneously conclude that a bot-crafted essay was human-produced. But it could be even worse for a student who completed an assignment honestly to be accused of using tech to cheat, Rosenberg said.

That “could put a student through a really negative, possibly humiliating process,” Rosenberg said.

Teachers who don’t want their students using ChatGPT as a writing tool need to make that expectation clear from the outset, Rosenberg said.

If a student’s essay is flagged by an AI detector, teachers should see that as a “starting point for a conversation”—not a final verdict, Rosenberg said. Teachers could ask students to tell them about their writing process and “recognize that the tool might be wrong,” he said.

The truth could also be complicated. Students may have used AI as a starting point for generating ideas, or employed a tool like Grammarly, which may rewrite sentences to make them more coherent, Rosenberg said.

Conversations with friends and colleagues shaped these thoughts; it was fun to get to try to capture some of these when talking with Alyson again.