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Opinion: ChatGPT: More of a cheating aid?

Uleanya Chinaza is Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Management, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg.

He recently published an opinion article that first appeared in the The Citizen on 15 June 2023.

Policies revolving around the use of the chatbot should be made to serve as guide to all users – teachers and pupils inclusive.

Since ChatGPT was introduced in November last year, Microsoft said it could be used for several scenarios.

The invention of the disadvantaged who lack access. What then is the way forward? What next? Should ChatGPT be considered for use in the country, there is need to ensure that both pupils in rural and urban areas are granted access.

This implies that issues of bandwidth and fibre optic would be well addressed across the nation. Also, electricity, which is capable of causing some forms of hindrances, should be looked into especially in areas prone to little or no supply of electricity.

Policies revolving around the use of the chatbot should be made to serve as guide to all users – teachers and pupils inclusive.

Policies

The policies should be such that ethical issues would be taken into due consideration and overreliance on the chatbot by teachers and pupils would be discouraged.

Thus, adequate monitoring measures are to be put in place. This would help to ensure that teachers still perform their functions, especially with regards to areas of teaching and promoting creative and critical thinking among pupils.

This would also help to cater for one of the major challenges sited as disadvantage of using the chatbot. Students should be oriented periodically on the use of and the need for less reliance on the chatbot.

Thus, periodic enlightenment on issues bordering around ChatGPT should be discussed with them.

The aim for the invention, by the San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company OpenAI – a lab which focuses on studying artificial intelligence – was to aid teaching and learning.

However, with the controversies surrounding ChatGPT, because of doubts over its reliability, acceptance and implementation or ban, its invention seems to have left many people, institutions of higher learning and countries in a dilemma.

Chatbot

While some scholars support the use of the chatbot as a tool to enhance teaching and learning, others have requested for its ban, arguing it promotes cheating and other unethical issues.

These threats seems to be starker in a country like South Africa, which continues to grapple with poor education standards.

A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation shows eight in 10 South African children struggle to read by age of 10. These reports suggest that there are issues with the quality of education that pupils receive.

Yet, the progression policy which demands the promotion of all pupils still applies. This adds to the growing concerns that should ChatGPT be embraced in South Africa and put to use, it would lead to more enhanced cheating than teaching and learning.

It shows that the actual cost for the implementation of the chatbot will be monumental and not be measured in financial terms if implemented and used unguardedly.

Dilemma

This is if the chatbot is used as a cheating aid rather than a teaching tool, which is what it was originally designed for. Reasons for the dilemma It is also worth noting that the chatbot has been identified as being incapable of promoting critical thinking, which is a crucial aspect to gauge the efficacy of learning.

An acceptance or implantation of ChatGPT would be a shortcut as the effect may only be temporal before reality sets in to stare in the faces of all to show that it was only the chatbot that was the critical thinker, not the students.

Thus, in the end, it would lead to a colossal impact with disastrous consequences for pupils, the education system and even on the nation in general.

More so, the adoption of ChatGPT is capable of making teachers lackadaisical and less creative in the discharge of their duties, while relying heavily on the chatbot.

Such a tendency could be similar to the case of the use of videos and PowerPoints to erroneously replace teaching and learning in some instances, whereas they were meant to aid the process. Hence, what was meant to be adopted as aid became the standard.

Ethical concerns

Ethical concerns also contribute to the dilemma of whether or not the nation should accept the chatbot. Ethical concerns on bias and discrimination, lack of privacy and security of data, manipulation and misuse, among others are critical and limit the effectiveness of the chatbot.

Meanwhile, the issue of access to the chatbot would create a whole lot of issues around social justice and social injustice. In this manner, ChatGPT can be viewed as a cheating aid, cheating the disadvantaged who lack access.

What then is the way forward? What next? Should ChatGPT be considered for use in the country, there is need to ensure that both pupils in rural and urban areas are granted access.

This implies that issues of bandwidth and fibre optic would be well addressed across the nation. Also, electricity, which is capable of causing some forms of hindrances, should be looked into especially in areas prone to little or no supply of electricity.

Policies revolving around the use of the chatbot should be made to serve as guide to all users – teachers and pupils inclusive.

The policies should be such that ethical issues would be taken into due consideration and overreliance on the chatbot by teachers and pupils would be discouraged.

Thus, adequate monitoring measures are to be put in place. This would help to ensure that teachers still perform their functions, especially with regards to areas of teaching and promoting creative and critical thinking among pupils.

This would also help to cater for one of the major challenges sited as disadvantage of using the chatbot. Students should be oriented periodically on the use of and the need for less reliance on the chatbot.

Thus, periodic enlightenment on issues bordering around ChatGPT should be discussed with them.

*The views expressed in this article are that of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect that of the University of Johannesburg.

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