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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Chat GPT

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #98

As a person ages, it is easy to get cynical, opinionated, and more resistant to change. Well, I can tell you I am not there yet except for being opinionated, and I've always been willing to share my opinion, so I don't attribute that to aging. In this issue of Leadership Thoughts, I will share my opinion about the access and use of ChatGPT in schools.

Open AI ChatGPT is a nonprofit research company founded in 2015 by Elon Musk, Greg Brockman, Llya Sutskever, Wojciech Zaremba, and investor Sam Altman; they were backed by $1 billion in funding from the Microsoft Corporation. The company’s purpose is to develop and direct artificial intelligence (AI) in ways that will benefit humanity. Musk stepped down from the board in 2018 to avoid conflict with Telsa. He continues to make contributions to the research laboratory.

ChatGPT launched on November 30, 2022, creating a stir among educators.

ChatGPT had more than one million users in less than one week. I get it; I am one of those million, and why not? I can give the chatbot a prompt, and it types out a good response in seconds, for example.

I asked ChatGPT to explain the meaning and purpose of ChatGPT.

"ChatGPT" stands for "Conversational Generative Pre-training Transformer.” It is a language model developed by OpenAI that uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like text. It is trained on a large dataset of human-generated text and can generate coherent and fluent text when given a prompt or context. It can be fine-tuned for language translation, text summarization, question answering, and more.

The second question I asked ChatGPT to explain in one paragraph is what is Conversational Generative Pre-training Transformer?

Conversational Generative Pre-training Transformer (ConvGPT) is a type of language model that has been trained on a large dataset of conversational text. It is based on the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) architecture, initially developed for language generation tasks such as language translation and text summarization. The main difference between GPT and ConvGPT is that the latter has been trained on conversational data, which includes dialogues and conversations between people. This allows ConvGPT to generate more natural and coherent responses in a conversational setting, as it has learned the nuances and patterns of human conversation. It can be used in various applications, such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and conversation generation systems.

My third question for ChatGPT was how ChatGPT could be a resource for education.

ChatGPT can be a resource for teaching in a variety of ways. For example, it can generate practice problems and quizzes for students, answer questions, and explain homework assignments. It can also generate educational content such as summaries and study guides. Additionally, it can be used as a tool for natural language processing and understanding in educational contexts.

Although ChatGPT has only been available since November, school districts across the county have already decided to ban its use. New York City, Seattle Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified Schools, Washington D.D., and Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia are some of the largest school systems in the country that decided to ban ChatGPT due to concerns about students cheating.

The primary concern for educators in using ChatGPT is plagiarism. Plagiarism has always been a concern of educators. One study showed that at least 58% of high school students have plagiarized. Although these programs can be misused, that is not a new problem for educators.

I remember copying from the World Book Encyclopedia in seventh grade and not citing the source. That was the first time I heard the word plagiarism; I was quickly provided with an intense lesson, including reprimands about plagiarism. The whole experience was part of my learning process.

There will be solutions to the plagiarizing problem. I haven’t investigated it, but Edward Tian, a Princeton University in New Jersey student, claimed he developed an app called GPTZero . He tweeted, “the app can quickly and efficiently detect whether an essay is ChatGPT or human written." OpenAI told Forbes, "they look forward to working with educators on useful solutions to help students and teachers benefit from artificial intelligence."

Like all disruptors, creative people are willing to discover ways to use the new resource as a tool. ChatGPT could write a five-paragraph essay on "The Great Gatsby” symbolism in seconds or solve an algebra equation instantly and explain the process. It can check spelling and grammar, give feedback, write poems and songs, and create lesson plans that look and sounds human. It is no wonder it is disrupting education.

Users of ChatGPT or any AI program must understand that there can be some issues, including untrue, misleading, or fabricated facts. The AI catchphrase for this is AI hallucination. AI can pick up falsehoods from the training data and cannot determine true from false. Therefore, it's important to remain skeptical and check essential facts. Despite the limitations and challenges presented by AI, it can still be an excellent tool for teaching and learning when used wisely.

Educators’ primary goal is to prepare our students for their future. We would be wrong and illogical if we were to think that prohibiting disruptive technologies such as ChatGPT, Grammarly, Sudowrite, or any other innovation would be better for our learners. Instead of banning these programs and tools, we must discover ways to adapt them for teaching and learning.

Bonus Story

In October 1982, I began my first administrative position as an assistant high school principal. A few months later, I convinced the principal to purchase an Apple IIe with a printer for my office — it was the first desktop computer in the school district.

The following year, the business department asked for 30 Apple computers and 30 IBM typewriters. They refused despite my attempts to persuade them to teach typing on a computer keyboard. They said it couldn’t be done! I recommend they purchase 60 computers instead of the typewriters and begin to phase out typewriters.

The moral of this story is clear: educators must be willing to accept and experiment with innovations that can improve the teaching-learning process and better prepare students for the future.


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