/This Technology Can Write Student Essays: Is There Any Educational Benefit?

This Technology Can Write Student Essays: Is There Any Educational Benefit?

Key idea: An artificial intelligent model called Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, informally known as GPT-3, aims to end writer’s block by doing the writing for us. The implications for education are enormous, in both bad and good ways.

Original author and publication date: Williamena Kwapo (Education Week) – August 2, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: If AI can write school papers, should we be grading AI? It seems nonsensical.

From the article:   

I first heard of GPT-3 at the Learning 2025 conference hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association earlier this summer in Washington. In a room filled with superintendents, principals, teachers, and other education leaders, Bill Dagget, former educator and founder of the International Center for Leadership in Education, gave a keynote speech that mentioned GPT-3 and the possibility of students using this model to do their classwork and homework.

The attendees were filled with both awe and dread. What is this technology and what impact will it have on students’ ability to write in the future? Will students become overly dependent on AI to do the hard thinking and writing for them? These were just some of the questions in the room. Like any education reporter searching for a story, I was incredibly intrigued by the technology and had some of the same questions.

So what is GPT-3?
GPT-3 was created by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company. According to OpenAI, GPT-3 is a machine-learning model that uses internet data to understand and generate natural language text. Trained on 540 billion words and 175 billion parameters, the model produces text in response to a prompt.

When you input the prompt, the model will generate a complete text that attempts to match whatever context, pattern, and directive you gave it. For example, if you input “write a tagline for a car company,” it will return a completion like “a car for every budget” or “the best way to get around.” Prompt it to “summarize a complex text for a 1st grader” and it generates a summarized text in language that a 1st grader can understand.
But it isn’t just an ask and answer technology. GPT-3 is trained on text generation, completion, summarization, and creative writing.

GPT-3 does not just understand words; it also understands context, sentence structure, and dual meanings in multiple languages, allowing it to summarize text, write outlines, essays, reports, and recommendation letters, all in human-like prose. And beyond writing, the model is trained in producing content related to math and science.

“It’s a game changer. It hasn’t really broken into mainstream yet, but it’s coming in a few years’ time. I think the education profession hasn’t really got its head around the implications of this yet,” said Alistar Moere, the chief product officer at MetaMetrics Inc., one of the more than 300 companies exploring the use of GPT-3 in its products.

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