ChatGPT and Historical Education: Reflection, Final Paper, and Project Poster

My project for this course covered ChatGPT and historical education. This topic was intriguing to me as it covered a relatively new type of media, natural language processing chatbots. As ChatGPT was released in late November 2022, I began using and exploring its capabilities. I was astounded with the versatility, efficiency, and overall power of the technology. Naturally, I prompted responses by it that covered my interests: history, politics, etc. Although some niche and complex prompts left its responses something to be desired, I was, in general, quite surprised with its capabilities.

A litany of news articles began coming out since ChatGPT’s release that sought to explain its capabilities but more importantly began wondering how the technology would influence society, especially education. Students began using the technology to cheat on tests and essays and people were up-in-arms about how it could ruin education. This controversy interested me as I knew how ChatGPT was powerful but also knew that it could help in education. Thus, I chose to explore this topic of ChatGPT and education. As ChatGPT became more powerful and more people were exposed to it, the interest in the topic became widespread. Articles started coming out everyday about the technology and its implications.

I wanted to focus on the topic and use my own use, supplemented with articles, to show the various aspects of ChatGPT. I chose to focus widely on several parts of the technology: an overview of ChatGPT, its applications, trade offs (both positive and negative), how students used it to cheat and learn, how teachers could combat cheating and use the technology to supplement their teaching, and ethical/practical considerations. By having a wide focus, I hoped to compile knowledge of ChatGPT into something that could inform people on the technology without a bias for or against it.

As I began researching and writing on the topic, I became quite optimistic about how ChatGPT and other AI-tools could help within education. I also came to see that the cheating using ChatGPT would be solved, through technology and practical solutions, so that it would not become as much of a problem as it was said. Moreover, as AI becomes so entrenched in our lives, I came to see that banning the technology in education would hinder rather than help student’s education. AI will continue to be entrenched in everybody’s lives in the future. If we take away a certain technology from a student, they will be unprepared and uninformed about it in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that we, as a society, prepare students for the future by showing them the tools early on so that they are prepared to use them in the future.

As for the format of my project, I wish I had used a newer form of media to show the results of my project. The essay format has been used for centuries and stands the test of time. Despite this, I feel as though that with the increasing improvement of ChatGPT and prevalence of articles on the topic that my results may become outdated. It seems that a blog-style would have been a better method that can continually update its results. Furthermore, the essay format does not show in real-time how ChatGPT can work. I think that the efficiency and versatility of ChatGPT could have been shown better if I had embedded screen recordings of ChatGPT at work. Furthermore, I wish I had interviewed both students and educators to gauge their reactions to the technology.

I hope to continue this project whether in essay form or another type of media such as blogging. As ChatGPT becomes used more and more is learned about its use in historical education, I hope to be able to further show its benefits and applications. I think that it will become easier to see how ChatGPT works within education as time goes on and the model becomes better at things it struggles at now, such as citing relevant articles and information.

In the future, AI-tools will be an important part of individual’s lives and society in general. It is important that we teach students not only how to best use them but also other practical and ethical considerations that are important to understand. The only way to be prepared for the future is to prepare in the present using the tools of the future.

3 Replies to “ChatGPT and Historical Education: Reflection, Final Paper, and Project Poster”

  1. Patrick,

    Your project is so cool! ChatGPT is endlessly fascinating and I honestly had only vaguely heard about it until you began to discuss it in class, which led me to discovering something new. I have had a lot of fun playing around with it and asking it all sorts of different questions. I really like the point you made that the technology exists, students are going to use it/be aware of it, so instead of ignoring and banning it, educators should investigate it themselves and figure out how it can be used to benefit them and their students. This is especially true because, as you said, this kind of technology is here to stay.

    I agree that if you continue this project that a medium like a blog would make a lot of sense. It would allow you to be able to continue to provide people with updates as the technology inevitably continues to evolve.

  2. I totally agree with you, Chat GPT and other AI isn’t going away anytime soon, so banning it would be much more of a hindrance to students and other professionals. I even used ChatGPT for my project to help troubleshoot python code and it helped immensely. It was like having a teacher or tutor standing over my shoulder telling me why or why not my code was or wasn’t working and it clearly explained each element to me. Great work overall on such a timely topic.

  3. Hi Patrick! ChatGPT is something that I keep hearing about and have heard folks talk about, but haven’t really engaged with it directly myself, so I’m glad I was able to read your work about it! I know folks have already said it, but I also really do think the point about teaching students to use the tools is more important than trying to ban them outright is quite strong! I also think this would be really interesting to switch into a blog format, I would totally follow just to see what weird and interesting little things you could get it to do, like the debate you prompted during the poster presentation in class!

    This is really cool work, and I can’t wait to see what this project may turn into!

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