ChatGPT and Historical Education

How will ChatGPT influence the education of history?

(Image from Atria Innovation:

For my digital history print project, I hope to explore the interactive relationship between historical education and ChatGPT. With ChatGPT continuously improving and society finding new, innovative ways to utilize it, understanding the technology’s implications for historical education becomes paramount. Already the technology has been used to cheat on essays or exams from students of all ages. These initial use-cases were only natural and countermeasures have already been implemented to stop this type of cheating. Despite initially negative use-cases for students, I believe that ChatGPT, and similar AI systems, will play an important, mostly positive, role in the future of education.

This project hopes to understand how traditional historical education can be transformed with ChatGPT. First, I will look at traditional historical education, prior to the use of AI systems, and discern the most important developments and aspects in the education of history. It is important to understand this as it will help to bridge the gap and predict how ChatGPT will be utilized most effectively within historical education. Second, I will look at artificial intelligence systems, specifically ChatGPT, and learn about their origins and development into the present. In the third part of this introductory phase of the project, the applications of ChatGPT and historical education will be explored: including fact-checking, research and writing assistance, and analysis/interpretation. This phase of the project will help to introduce foundational elements of historical education and ChatGPT as well as their applications towards each other.

In the next phase of the project, I will be attempting to understand the benefits and negatives of AI-systems like ChatGPT when combined with historical education. Initially, the negative consequences were apparent. Students were able to “game” the system by using ChatGPT to either partially or fully complete their assignments. These use-cases were ameliorated through plagiarism detection software and other methods but there still remains lesser negatives of ChatGPT not as easily seen. For instance, ChatGPT has a limited understanding of context, limited creativity, and limited ability to handle open-ended questions. Additionally, ChatGPT has two types of biases that influence its answers: algorithmic and data biases. Despite these limitations, ChatGPT does have positive aspects: speed and scalability, 24/7 availability, and relative consistency and objectivity. The negatives and positives of ChatGPT show how it can be a technological double-edged sword and thus should be studied more closely.

For the final phase of my project, I hope to explore how ChatGPT can improve the future of historical education and beyond. Prediction can be a dangerous pursuit; I hope not to predict how ChatGPT will evolve and be utilized but rather find areas where it will be important. These areas will include education and information, research, automation and efficiency, language processing, and innovation. It is my hope that this project will bring a greater understanding of ChatGPT and its implications for historical education and society in general. Currently, the use of ChatGPT provides glimpses into its potential power and utilization but it is up to us to find out how that potential power can be best utilized in the future.

One Reply to “ChatGPT and Historical Education”

  1. Hi Patrick,

    Looking at ChatGPT and it’s potential impact on history education and writing is a really great and timely idea. Overall, I think what you have proposed makes a lot of sense. I think my biggest suggestion here would be to ground your analysis in contemporary articles and writing on the topic. That is, if you can go out and find some articles, blog posts, and or other discussions online speculating about the potential good and potential harm of ChatGPT for historical writing and learning then you have a built in starting point for your project. That is, if you first categorize and describe current discourse about the potential good and bad that ChatGPT can bring, then you can go ahead and further explore that in the core of your study.

    Given that you can readily use ChatGPT to produce historical writing examples, I think it would really be ideal to come up with a few different example prompts to use with it to generate writing examples and then go in and analyze those examples based on the positive and negative ideas you have found in writing about it. That is, because it is so straightforward to get ChatGPT to generate this kind of text, you have a very straightforward way to go ahead and empirically test what kinds of good or bad quality comes out of text it produces. If you go that route you would then end up with something really concrete that you could do your analysis on.

    Big picture, I think doing research on ChatGPT and its potential use for and positive and negative impacts on history learning and education is a great idea. There are a lot of ways you could go about approaching it and I’m excited ot see how this idea keeps developing if you do end up running with it.

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