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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — When ChatGPT launched in November, school districts across the country began to worry that students would use the tool to plagiarize and cheat.
With one click, the program can generate essays, solve science and math problems and more in no time.
The Rhode Island Department of Education said any decision about the use of chatbots in the classroom will be made at the district level.
12 News reached out to all 39 superintendents in the state and those who responded, except for one, said they are having discussions, but it’s too soon to draft policies. Narragansett is the only district that said they are already taking action.
“It’s definitely something we are still learning,” Narragansett Technology Integration Coach Vanessa Miller said. “It’s the same as any new technology that comes out, it can be scary.”
ChatGPT is a form of artificial intelligence called a large language model and was created by the company OpenAI.
School districts in places like Seattle and New York City have already banned the technology from their networks, but some experts say that’s not a good idea.
“Banning technology, historically speaking, is almost never a good solution,” Richard Culata said. “Kids, when they graduate, are going to be working on teams where not all members of the team are human and we need to be preparing them for that.”
Culata is the former chief innovation officer for Rhode Island and now serves as the president of the International Society of Technology in Education — the organization that will train Narragansett’s team on AI in the classroom this spring.
“We learn about it, get to know how we can use it, how students might use it and we can change what we’re doing as teachers to accommodate the new tech as it gets integrated,” Miller said.
That accommodation, though, is shifting the role of the teacher to more of a coach than an instructor.
“It’s a much more active role in some ways than just saying all this stuff, it’s helping curate and make meaning out of the information,” Culata explained.
In the meantime, ChatGPT is banned on Narragansett’s network because the company requires users to be 18 to have an account.
Miller said if the district decides the program is beneficial to the classroom, parents could sign off on its use.
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