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.

Opening and Expanding Forms of Scholarly Communication

In this reading response, four sources will be outlined that show how scholarly communication has both become more open and expanded. The prevalence of new technologies has pushed academics to reconsider their own methods and practices to allow these technologies into their fields in order to improve their disciplines.

Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy

Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book focuses on the future of academic publishing. She pushes the reader to reconsider academia’s future more broadly in more communally oriented ways. She focuses not just on technological changes but also on the social, intellectual, and institutional changes. These changes to the various aspects of academia have wide implications and must be considered in how they both decrease costs and increase access but also in how they change the methodology of academics in researching, writing, and reviewing.

The books resulted from the experiences of Fitzpatrick in the scholarly communication field as she co-founded Media Commons, a digital scholarly network. It covers several aspects which will be further outlined in this blog post.

The chapter on peer review looks at its tradition, history, and future. It focuses on a few important features and bugs such as anonymity, credentialing, reputation, and others. She argues that the central pole of academia, the peer review system, is broken and must be fixed.

In the next chapter, Fitzpatrick attempts to revive peer-review by pushing change from “a system focused on the production and dissemination of individual products to imagining it as a system focused more broadly on facilitating the processes of scholarly work” (11). She covered the rise and death of authorship and the move from individual to collaborative, originality to remix, intellectual property to the gift economy, and from text to something more.

In the later chapters, which covered texts, preservation, and the university, Fitzpatrick explores other necessary changes to academia that are important to the future. These changes include publishers thinking differently about their business model and editorial practices, among other considerations.

Fitzpatrick, throughout the book, argued that “we in the humanities, and in the academy more broadly, face what is less a material obsolescence than an institutional one; we are entrenched in systems that no longer serve our needs” (13). The book helps to not only show the problems with academia, specifically in publishing, but also guides the reader to theoretical and practical solutions. I have seen many of the themes and changes Fitzpatrick covered and believe that her prescient analysis has helped mold our present while still providing wisdom for the future.

The Ivory Tower and the Open Web: Burritos, Browsers, and Books

This article by Dan Cohen, the Vice Provost, Dean, and a Professor at Northeastern University looks at how openness remains valuable for academic endeavors on the web. Cohen opened the article by citing Nate Silver’s blog, “The Burrito Bracket,” which assessed inexpensive Mexican restaurants in Chicago’s Wicker Park.

The blog by Silver utilized Google’s free blogger web application to take his assessment of these restaurants to bring it online. He posted weekly about different restaurants and scored them across twelve categories. He then created other ways of interaction between the restaurants through head-to-head battles and “March Madness” style brackets. As Cohen noted “like many of the savviest users of the web, Silver started small and improved the site as he went along.” He used Flickr to archive photos of the restaurants to complement his textual descriptions and scores. He added geolocation so that the restaurants could be mapped out. The blog became increasingly popular online, with the help of Yelp, and was enhanced by online interaction.

Then, Cohen explained how, in 2008, Silver turned from burritos to politics. In a similar way to his development of “The Burrito Bracket,” Silver started “” (a nod to the total electors in the U.S. electoral college) and began small, growing iteratively. The small project, which grew with time to include maps and charts, started to take off and its audience began to grow exponentially soon surpassing daily newspapers in visitors. Cohen explained that Silver’s audience were “looking for data-driven, deeply researched analysis rather than conventional reporting.” Silver’s innovative blog began a discussion on this new form of information which saw some supporting the evolution while others emphasizing its limitations.

Eventually, the FiveThirtyEight blog would merge with the New York Times which showed Silver and his blog’s ascension in modern media. Cohen noted how this meteoric rise presents several lessons for academia including the “do-it-yourself nature,” “iterate toward perfection,” the principle of “good is good,” “continual, post-publication, recursive review,” and the power of “openness” in enabling and rewarding “unexpected uses and genres.”

Cohen then discusses the debate between the use of the web in academia. He outlines literature on the topic and then places his book within its context: “this book is about how the digital-first culture of the web might become more widespread and acceptable to the professoriate and their students.” He further outlines aspects and chapters of the book such as blogging, genre and the open web, the fundamental requirements of such a system, and the value of openness. Cohen believes that in order to move beyond the restrictive nature of the past, openness is imperative to “fully functional shadow academic systems for scholarly research and communication.” Cohen’s analysis of Silver’s blogs along with his outlining of previous literature and his own book helped to show how the online medium can greatly benefit and expand academic literature.

Scholarly Communications in History Discipline

This Ithaka report was commissioned by JSTOR and created in August 2006 by Rebecca Griffiths, Michael Dawson, and Matthew Rascoff. The report builds on previous investigations by the economics field by presenting findings of a study on the history disciplines’s use of scholarly communications. Specifically, it looks at the processes and resources utilized in historian’s research. The methodology of the study was to depend on interviews with senior/junior faculty and graduate students from a variety of institutions. The authors note that the responses of the interviewees centered around three themes.

The first theme was that books still remain the dominant form of history’s scholarly communications. The authors maintain that in order to obtain tenure to focus on research, the person must publish one or two books.  Journal articles and book reviews (monographs) present a strong secondary source used for research and distinguish them by explaining that former to be less valuable for career advancement but more accessible than the latter. 

The second theme of the report was that, in relation to other fields, the transition from print to electronic remains slow. Current or past issues of leading journals are often not online and this is especially true outside the United State. They further note that there are few open access or online only journals, minimal pre-print sharing, minimal online book reviews, minimal digitized primary source material, and electronic books are not valued the same as print books. However, the report does explain how finding aids for archives are increasingly accessible online. Online mediums, both effective and scalable, for creating historical scholarship have yet to emerge, the report states. Finally, the slow development of the online medium for history brings difficulties for the “next generation of historians, as undergraduates of today arrive with a mindset that anything not available electronically does not exist.

The third and final theme covered the importance of comprehensiveness in the history discipline. They help to distinguish between history and other fields by citing an example from an economist that dissuades his students from reviewing past literature on a topic as it can potentially discourage and hinder their creativity. On the other hand, historians value and emphasize historiography: the context of the argument, its place within the scholarly dialogue, and the provenance of its primary source materials. Thus, the discovery process of historians is wider ranging and often focuses on lesser-known sources.

This report helps to show how historians utilize scholarly communication. The fact the report came out almost 17 years ago does make me wonder how much things have changed. As the online medium becomes more accessible and more prevalent, such as in the previous decade, I believe that the field of history has also evolved in this way. In my own experience, I have found that institutions are evolving to the online medium despite many important resources lacking from it.

Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians

Another report from Ithaka, which came out in late-2012,  this project also used interviews to base their research on. The authors, Jennifer Rutner and Roger C. Schonfeld, interviewed historians, librarians, archivists, and support service providers. It looked at the changing research methods/practices of the history field in the United States and found that the underlying research methods remained similar even after the introduction of new technologies. Despite this, the daily research practices have fundamentally changed. The authors found opportunities for improved support/training and presented recommendations to the following areas:

Archives: improving access through upgraded finding aids, digitization and discovery tool integration. The authors hope that this will help to expand opportunities for archivists in helping historians interpret collections, building connections, and instruction of the use of archives.

Libraries: improvements to the supply of collections, addressing changing format preferences, maximizing access of collections through collaboration, and incorporating the entirety of materials through discovery environments. The authors further note the need for research support in sub-disciplines and the discovery and support of primary source material.

Citation/research note management systems providers: to push these systems to help historians in their need narratively organize sources and gain intellectual control over them.

History departments: add to the education of PhD students by training the development of dissertation proposals, adopting/using research practice and methods, and the use of non-textual sources and new forms of scholarly expression.

Scholarly societies: push for initiatives that regularly teach historians’ changing research practices and the engagement with other parts of the history discipline.

Funders: opportunities where funding can address historians’ professional development and building bridges between research support providers and historians.

In all, this article helps to show how the field of history has changed in research methodology and practices. It also shows the limitations of the various aspects of the field while giving practical recommendations to ameliorate these concerns raised by the interview.

Playing the Past: Practicum Overview

This week’s topic covers “Playing the Past: Videogames, Interactivity, and Action.” I will be showcasing four online games that reenact ideas and events from history. These games remain important for people to engage with the past in fun and interesting ways.

Argument Wars

The first game is “Argument Wars” in which the user attempts to argue real Supreme Court cases. The game is created by iCivics which is a non-partisan civics education company that hopes to motivate users towards life-long civics engagement. The company has a great number of other high quality and engaging civics-related games.

The game can be played in Spanish or in English. For educators, iCivics has extension packs that can help to cement important game concepts through additional activities and teaching tools. In Argument Wars, the user argues a historic Supreme Court case against another (computer) lawyer with the side using the strongest argument reigning victorious. Some examples of the court cases included in the game are Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, and Bond v. United States.

Beginning the game, the user is asked to sign in or register for an account which allows them to save in-game progress, unlock achievements, and compete with friends through leaderboards. The game can be played without registering or logging into an account. The user gets to pick the difficulty of their opponent (normal or high), the appearance of their lawyer, and which case they would like to argue, and which side of the case they would like to be on.

The game helpfully provides information on the key details of the case before choosing as well as having a “case summary” button that can be selected while playing the game. Initially, the lawyers go back and forth with their opening arguments with the justices intervening to ask questions to them. The user then must select which amendment provides the constitutional basis for the case. A correct selection will give the user impact points. Next, the user must draw cards, either support cards which help your argument or action cards which give special abilities. The user then must select cards to use and build their arguments through options given. The user and opponent can lose points if they make a mistake in their argumentation. Multiple rounds of drawing cards and selecting cards to build one’s argument follows. Whoever has more impact points by the end of rounds wins the game with the justices ruling in favor of their argument. At the end of the game, the final opinion shows what really happened versus the game’s decision.

The game is an engaging way for students and the general public alike to learn about judicial cases as well as improving their persuasive abilities.

Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case

The second game discussed in this blog post is “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case” which turns the user into a history detective. The game was made in partnership with PBS Wisconsin and the archivists at the Wisconsin Historical Society. This adventure game features Jo Wilder who uncovers historical stories from mysterious artifacts from movements in Wisconsin State History.

The game is aimed for grades 3-6. The learning goals of the game are threefold: to help students engage in critical thinking and historical inquiry; to identify and apply historical evidence from multiple sources; and to relate primary and secondary source material to build an argument and support a conclusion. The user employs many of the skills used by historians including investigation, identification, corroboration, and contextualization of evidence.

The game plays out over multiple chapters and the user must find evidence for the historical mysteries to complete each chapter. Jo Wilder, whose grandfather Leopold works in the library as a historian, travels throughout the game world which takes place in Wisconsin’s capital, Madison.

She looks for clues to uncover mysteries of the past. For example, in the early parts of the game, Jo investigates a women’s basketball jersey dating back to 1916. But, through evidence and inquiry, Jo finds out that it is actually not a basketball jersey and instead belonged to a women suffragist fighting for the right to vote.

The game continues with various historical investigations related to Wisconsin’s history. The engaging exploration of the game world and clues allows the user to improve their historical skills in a fun way. The user must look closely for clues to make progress, check their notebook to track their evidence, navigate the map to gather evidence from multiple sources, and finally to defend their case by using the correct evidence from their notebook.

Prisoner in my Homeland: Mission US

The third game to be discussed in this blog post is “Prisoner in My Homeland” which covers the experiences of 16-year-old Henry Tanaka whose family is forced to relocate to a prison camp in California during WWII.

The user faces choices and challenges that Japanese Americans coped with during their internment in the war. Mission US is a role-playing game (RPG). Although many of the characters in the game are fictional, they are based on the experiences of real people and the user does encounter actual historical figures and historical events in the game.

The stated goal of the game “is to understand history, not to win.” During the missions of the game, the user interacts with a variety of people exploring historical settings and witnessing important events. The user faces difficult decisions which represent real alternatives that people in the past may have had to face themselves. The user decides the fate of the character based on these choices made in the game. Some choices unlock different badges. These decisions also impact the outcome of the character’s story seen in the epilogue of the game. The game remains replayable as the user can choose other choices to see how the story plays out differently. The game can take 1.5-2 hours to play.

The user must create an account with Mission US before they can play. The story plays out through talking with people, making decisions, and exploring the game world. As previously mentioned, the game can play out in multiple different ways.

The game covers challenging and difficult aspects of U.S. history. These aspects include racism, injustice, and war. Mission US believes that “learning about such historical moments is essential for understanding both the past and present.”

Additionally, there are resources that support the learning goals that include comprehension questions, writing prompts, vocabulary activities, and primary source analysis. There are also helpful videos that explain the game and learning goals.

A Cheyenne Odyssey

The final game discussed in this blog post is “A Cheyenne Odyssey” where you experience events as Little Fox. The Northern Cheyenne boy faces difficult experiences including the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions. The user gets to experience Cheyenne’s persistence through national transformation and conflict.

The game is also created by Mission US so many of the things said about the previous game are also applicable to this game. It is an RPG game where the user steps into the shoes of a young person during a time in U.S. history. There are no right or wrong answers and no winning. The goal is to understand the history through interactions, exploration, and making decisions that people may have had to make in the past. The user decides the fate of the character in the game.

The game shows the difficulties of living in the west with an expanding society encroaching onto their lands. The experiences of Little Fox help the user understand this and other aspects of living as a Native American. The voice acting of Northern Cheyenne characters was done by the Northern Cheyenne themselves. There also are a variety of education resources including guides and videos.

HomelessCast: A History and Investigation of Homelessness

Image from NY Post (

For my digital history project proposal, I hope to shed light on a growing problem in Washington D.C. and most cities across the country: homelessness. Moving into the city, I was struck with the extent of homelessness in all parts of the city. Although the root causes are often perceived as mental health and drug abuse problems, I believe that there are other salient causes that should be investigated further.

Interestingly, according to The Economist, homelessness in D.C. has gone down by 47% since 2016 despite appearances of it getting worse. It will be important to further investigate whether it has continued to decrease and why. Additional consideration of how COVID-19 changed or worsened aspects of homelessness will be important as well.

The method for this investigation of the history and current status of homelessness in D.C. will be in the form of a podcast. I believe that this approach will be beneficial in that the audience can hear from relevant people first-hand. These relevant people will include homeless people themselves, city officials, academics focusing on this problem, and other pertinent individuals.

I think that having a mostly unscripted, long-form, multi-episode podcast will be most conducive to learning about homelessness myself but also sharing that knowledge with wider audiences. People living in cities that see homelessness everyday or people without direct knowledge of homelessness will find something to learn by hearing stories from homeless people themselves and experts who understand the topic deeply.

In this podcast, I hope to cover several different aspects of homelessness. First, in interviewing homeless people, I hope to ask them about their own history and how they got to where they are. I believe that hearing homeless people’s stories will be a powerful aspect of this project. They will also be able to relate insights that can only be gleaned from actually living through homelessness. Additionally, I hope to interview people that are attempting to support and solve the homeless problem such as organizations and individual citizens. There already is a multitude of podcasts related to homelessness but none that encompass a wide ranging focus of stories from homeless people to high-level discussion of the causes.

Another aspect of the podcast that will be important to understanding the history and current problem with homelessness will be interviewing academics and others who study the problem. These people will help to provide context for the problem by explaining its history and other insights that are more complicated and not easily seen. It is my hope that the podcast can be around 10 episodes, each around 30-60 minutes, with a mostly unscripted interview of homeless people and relevant figures in the field.

There are several aspects of homelessness that I would like to cover throughout this project. Firstly, I would like to understand the history of homelessness in America and specifically in this city. It will be important to explore how governmental policies and other crises such as drug abuse and the rising cost of living have contributed to homelessness. As noted above, I would also like to learn about the personal stories of homeless people. These stories will help to humanize homeless people who often do not get the time of day from people passing them.

Finally, I would like to learn from experts on homelessness and poverty in academia, non-profits, and other organizations. These people will help to inform the high-level issues of homelessness. Specifically, It will be important to explore how city governmental policies that either allow or disallow encampments either help or hurt the homeless problem. They will also be able to provide comparative context for how other cities and countries face this problem.

In terms of outreach, the most basic way will be print advertising around AU, metro stations, and similar locations. It could also be digitally advertised through the AU community and on sites that hope to solve or support the homeless problem.

In terms of evaluation, I think that completing all of the episodes and producing them to be listened to as a podcast will be the first criteria. The second criteria will be outreach to evaluate how well I was able to successfully advertise my podcast so that people within and without the AU community can hear about the problem of homelessness.

In conclusion, I hope this project can help to document a major problem within our time. Understanding the history of homelessness as well as documenting history in the present remains important in not only fixing the symptoms but also its underlying causes.

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.