Recently, the Cook Islands Ministry of Education announced plans to develop a new strategic plan for the Cook Islands education system. As part of the discussions, there have been talks about banning the use of ChatGPT, and other AI language models, in classrooms due to concerns about cheating following reports on a cheating scandal involving the use of ChatGPT by some Year 12 students in New Zealand. The students used the AI to generate essays for their NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) exams, but their plagiarism was flagged by the examiners. The Cook Islands also uses the NCEA standard and this incident has raised some concerns amongst policy makers and educators alike.
However, as a former teacher I believe that banning AI is the wrong approach. While I understand the reasons behind the ban is that it is much easier to prohibit the use of AI than to reform an outdated education system, I can almost guarantee that students have already found ways to bypass the ChatGPT detectors that are being used to write their essays by running the output through another AI to reword the original text, making it virtually undetectable. It is a losing battle to try and ban technology from the classroom.
Instead, we need to rethink how we incorporate new technologies into classrooms and develop entirely new approaches to teaching and learning. This requires a shift away from centralised strategic planning towards more agile and adaptable methods that keep up with the fast-paced changes in technology and education.
Policy makers will need to rethink how to incorporate new technologies into classrooms much faster than in the past, as well as develop entirely new approaches to teaching and learning and then do this in a decentralised manner with students and teachers as collaborators to scale up and out at pace. That’s the approach that needs to be taken. This centralised strategic planning approach that has been a staple in education throughout the world’s education system won’t cut it moving forward because by the time it comes out it’ll be outdated. We can distill this approach into the following: Think Big but Start Small, Gather Feedback and Iterate Quickly.
In conclusion, banning ChatGPT in classrooms is not the solution to the problem of cheating. Instead, we need to embrace technology and find innovative ways to incorporate it into our education systems. By doing so, we can empower students and teachers to take control of their learning and prepare them for the challenges of the future.