You know the good-old “Distracted Boyfriend” meme, right? Who doesn’t? Education experts from around the globe are like the guy in the meme. They’re walking around, hand-in-hand with teachers, starting in amazement at the first big thing that can replace them.
This year, the girl walking by is an AI chatbot.
Why is Everyone Hung Up on Chatbots?
Another thing everyone’s heard about – ChatGPT – the AI-powered chatbot that has been all over social media for the past few months. Bill Gates invested nearly a quarter-billion into it already. And the chatbot has done a ton of interesting stuff, including:
- Re-writing an old hip-hop classic as a 14th-century poem
- Drafting a letter to remove a bad credit report account
- Writing an original essay on “Wuthering Heights” for a literature class
While a huge number of people used the chatbot to fool around and be creative, others – as we can see from our last example – used it for educational purposes. Not only can ChatGPT write essays, but it can also write code, answer historical/geographic/science questions, and solve math equations.
Interestingly enough, it can do all of these things a lot quicker than a professor can. All you need to do is type a question, and it will respond with the answer in a couple of seconds.
Are Teachers Actually in Trouble?
The truth is teachers have shifted away from traditional teaching methods for quite some time now. There are fewer lectures and more independent work, as well as virtual tutoring, homework help, and performance-based learning.
The world is changing quicker and quicker. Just think, before the pandemic, how many parents were willing to let their children listen to classes from home? Not a lot. In fact, prior to the pandemic, only 20% of schools offered online classes.
And now, some children don’t want to return to the old way of learning. They enjoy the freedom of remote classes more, and with websites like 24HourAnswers, which give access to remote tutoring for any subject, it is no wonder why.
Does this mean that our entire school system is about to change?
Are Teachers Actually in Trouble?
Educational chatbots aren’t a 2023 concept. They’ve been around for more than a few years. Four years ago, for example, education came in as one of the top five most profitable chatbot industries.
How have we been using chatbots? In more than a couple of ways:
- Virtual Tutoring: Chatbots have been used to tutor students, provide feedback on homework, and answer specific questions.
- Homework Help: They can explain concepts in clear terms and generate personalized worksheets related to the subject.
- Performance and Learning: Also, chatbots can track student progress and provide feedback on the material they learned.
Until now, chatbots were relatively hard to customize and build. This also means they were expensive. But with ChatGPT and its open-source code, this is no longer the case. Plus, anyone can use the chat function of the bot to ask questions and get answers in seconds.
The Problem With AI Chatbots
All of this sounds interesting, sure. And yes, chatbots do have a lot of potential when it comes to education. But if you’ve ever used Alexa or Siri, you know that AI solutions work much better on paper than they do in real life.
Three potential problems with AI chatbots should be noted:
Problem #1. Limited Bandwidth
For now, ChatGPT simply doesn’t have enough information or content to give detailed, accurate responses the majority of the time. Sure, sometimes, you will get exactly what you asked for. But you’re always gambling.
There’s a plethora of reports on ChatGPT giving wrong and even ridiculous answers to relatively simple questions. Until we have something that can give us reliable answers, it’s hard to rely on AI chatbots too much.
Problem #2. High Error Rates
Sure, humans make mistakes too. We tend to forget things or give wrong information all the time. But when compared to AI chatbots, humans are still much more reliable sources of info.
The technology doesn’t have a great track record, and people trying to sell you the technology often overlook this aspect of it. So, users should be very cautious when choosing to use an AI chatbot for their learning needs.
Problem #3: Lack of Interaction
Now, the fun thing about ChatGT is its novelty of it. You’re talking to a robot. Asking it questions. And it’s actually giving you answers. Some of them being correct and even witty. But that feeling won’t last long.
It turns out that human interaction plays a huge part in teaching. That’s why we retain far less information from reading than we do from listening and engaging with a teacher. Chatbots can’t give us that feeling of engagement, which is a huge part of learning.
So Will Chatbots Start Teaching Children?
No. They won’t. Not by a long shot. Whether or not AI will have a positive or negative effect on the world of education as a whole remains to be seen.
Sure, it can streamline the teaching process, but there’s simply no substitute for the human mind. Chatbots can confidently give wrong information, which could be disastrous for a student’s academic progress.
They lack the empathy and understanding of an experienced teacher and can’t foster creativity or critical thinking skills. So wipe the sweat off your forehead, teachers. AI chatbots are not coming for your jobs – at least, not anytime soon. The future of education is yet to be written.