While existential risks may exist at the highest levels of AI abuse, teaching its ethical and responsible use can avert problems…

In light of global concern by top AI pioneers, inventors and dignitaries over the human potential to abuse the powerful generative AI engines being harped on, world governments are contemplating various measures to keep AI abuse and failures in check.

In the education sector, wayward students have used ChatGPT to cheat on their assignments and even exams. Educators, on the other hand, have found this latest leap in AI sophistication a powerful aid in keeping students simulated and engaged, if they are taught to use such study tools responsibly.

One educator, Ng Jun Wei — a full-time lecturer at the School of Health and Life Sciences, PSB Academy in Singapore, sees it as an opportunity to “turn panic into potential” and give the education system a much-needed makeover. He shares with DigiconAsia.net readers here, his own formula for avoiding the pitfalls when  using ChatGPT in pedagogy…

DigiconAsia: How do you use ChatGPT to enrich learning of complex sports science topics in the classroom? Is this sustainable, given the current global concerns about halting or pausing generative AI overuse?

Ng Jun Wei (NJW): First, my aim is to expose students to ChatGPT to generate ideas and answers to various classroom tutorial questions, and also to raise awareness of the need to fact-check information provided. 

Some of the ways I experimented with include using ChatGPT:

    1. Research assistance: Sports science often involves extensive research. By guiding students on using ChatGPT as a research tool, helping them refine their queries to obtain relevant information from trusted sources, and fact-checking the accuracy of the information churned out by ChatGPT: all this helps to scaffold the thought process in their learning. This empowers students to conduct in-depth research and enhances their understanding of sports science principles.
    2. Facilitating discussions: Students are able to use ChatGPT to suggest thought-provoking questions, or present counterarguments, which can then be used for in-depth discussions amongst students in class. This dynamic interaction stimulates intellectual discourse among students and encourages them to explore different perspectives and ideologies within the sports science field.

I think the above is sustainable because I am not too concerned about the idea of overusing generative AI as it is a tool, as humans have adapted to using tools in our daily lives  However, there are limitations to ChatGPT as it is a trained model that ‘learns’ from the immense volume of data fed to it. It cannot generate new knowledge but it can do away with mundane tasks that are repeated, and I believe it will keep evolving in its function and dynamics. Hence, I feel there is no reason to halt its use.

Using AI tools in learning can continue to be sustainable if certain considerations and practices are implemented. Some factors that can be considered to ensure the sustainability of using AI tools for learning and development are:

    • Scalability and accessibility: AI tools should be designed to be scalable and accessible, ensuring that a wide range of learners can benefit from them. This includes considerations for different languages, learning abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds.
    • Continuous improvement: AI tools should be continuously updated and improved to keep up with evolving educational needs. Regular updates and refinements can enhance their effectiveness and address any potential shortcomings.
    • Privacy and data security: Data privacy and security are essential aspects of sustainable AI usage. Adequate measures should be in place to protect student data and ensure compliance with relevant privacy regulations.
    • Ethical considerations: Ethical principles should guide the development and deployment of AI tools in education. Transparency, fairness, and accountability should be prioritized, and potential biases or discrimination should be actively addressed.
    • Educator professional development: Educators should receive training and professional development opportunities to understand and effectively utilize AI tools in their teaching practices. This helps ensure that AI is integrated into the learning process in a meaningful and sustainable way.

DigiconAsia: While the global technocrats sort out how to address long-term concerns (which may possibly force governments to rescind, limit or ban ChatGPT usage in the near future), how can educators emulate your strategy to improve pedagogy cautiously with generative AI?

NJW: While there are concerns about the use of AI tools due to how prolific and accessible they are, there may be some difficulties in restricting such tools. That said, we have seen governments discussing the rules and regulations on AI tools and innovations, to ensure that users are protected, and we maintain a safe digital environment for all. 

I personally use three different AI tools for my work, and I am still learning along the way. Nonetheless, I do use strategies to create more appropriate prompting, by keeping in mind what is the desired tone, context, and audience that my text is written for. We can also ask ChatGPT the best strategy that generative AI can be used to improve pedagogy. However, I do see how caution needs to be taken to understand its limits and its usage — to eliminate mundane tasks and to encourage original thinking.

Privacy and data security, ethical considerations, and training for educators are some of the crucial factors to always keep in mind when utilizing AI tools in pedagogical (and professional) aspects. While utilizing AI tools I limit them to being complementary teaching aids, to keep boundaries safe, without allowing students to compromises the efforts that should be put into owning their learning. Other cautious uses of ChatGPT include:

    • Augmenting teaching materials such as practice exercises, quizzes, or supplemental resources. These additional pedagogical materials can offer extra learning opportunities, and educators like myself can provide personalized feedback, enhancing students’ understanding of the subject matter.
    • Adaptive learning experiences can be created by generative AI can be tailored to individual student needs. By analyzing student performance and providing customized content, AI can assist educators in delivering personalized instruction and targeted interventions. However, users will need to be able to feed the AI tool with the right unbiased data and contexts, with the right commands, in order for AI tools to generate a diverse set of instructions/questions/suggestions for different profiles of students.
    • Language support and translation by ChatGPT can assist students that are non-native speakers or who have difficulty understanding certain concepts in their native language.
    • Content summarization and organization by Generative AI makes learning materials more accessible and digestible for students.
    • Creative project generation by generative AI can stimulate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Educators can use AI to provide students with a broader range of project options that cater to different interests and learning styles.

It is important to approach the integration of generative AI in pedagogy cautiously and iteratively. Educators should carefully evaluate and validate the effectiveness of AI tools in improving learning outcomes and engage in ongoing conversations with students and colleagues to gather feedback. By taking a measured approach, educators can gradually incorporate generative AI into their pedagogical practices while ensuring its responsible and effective use in the classroom.

DigiconAsia: Do you think more content can be preemptively added to the curriculum during interim use of generative AI tools, to constantly remind learners of the evolving nature of generative AI and its dangers/limits?

NJW: As with many like-minded peers, I share the belief that education should in some ways implement generative AI into their lessons. There are already AI platforms implemented in learning centers that use AI teaching assistants and assessment curation. Using AI will spur new interest, engagement, and hope in our learners, especially for Gen Z learners whom we largely serve in our current education landscape. 

Do keep in mind:  ChatGPT is a generative AI and not an assignment generator. Original contribution is required in writing assignments. Though AI should be used as a tool, I have seen how it has been inappropriately used and resulting in 100% plagiarism.

Be wise and smart about it, and always provide your references (for ones that exist). To all learners: remember that we are always responsible to have academic integrity in our own work, as long as originality is concerned, and to avoid academic pitfalls such as plagiarism and lack of diligence.

DigiconAsia thanks Jun Wei for sharing his views on the responsible use of generative AI for improving pedagogy.