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Concerns and hopes for ChatGPT in Hawaii schools

By Paul Drewes

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — Wouldn’t it be great if there was technology to help you with some of life’s tedious tasks: like writing emails or searching the internet for information? Well there is. But some worry about this technology, ChatGPT, being misused in Hawaii schools.

Chaminade University Sophomore Noelani Tugaoen says she spends a lot of time writing.

“College is one of those places where you have to write a lot of papers. You have to learn to process info and put it down on paper,” Tugaoen said.

Which is why some students are interested in the language processing tool ChatGPT, which can write up what you ask for — in a matter of seconds. It is able to compress tons of information into an easily understandable report or compile research for you.

“All of that information is consolidated in one short list, instead of looking something up and going to multiple websites,” said Tugaoen.

Not only can it write up an essay or report, it can also write it in a particular style or for a certain grade level. Which raises plagiarism concerns, as some students could use ChatGPT to write essays or reports for them.

“This doesn’t change the paradigm, but it makes it more complex. ChatGPT is faster and sophisticated in the material it can produce. It can produce highly-customized text, that appear to be written by students,” saidd Chaminade University Provost Lance Askildson.

There are apps to detect AI generated writing. At Chaminade University, facility use other tools to deter plagiarism, including having students use their own life experience in their writing. Askildson says the use of ChatGPT is being explored on the campus.

“It is very exciting technology. The focus is how do we ensure students do their own work and there isn’t plagiarism. But the exciting part is the tool for research purposes and helping students to understand their own writing,” Askildson said.

At Iolani School, instead of discouraging students from using ChatGPT because of the temptation to cheat, use of the chatbot is being embraced and expanded beyond writing simple emails or essays.

“There are many more sophisticated things that can be done with computer programming, how to investigate research topics and Artificial Intelligence implementations for ChatGPT, that add an autonomous element to its use. We want to educate our students in how to do all these things. Instead of restricting our students, we want them to be super users of ChatGPT,” said Timothy Cottrell, Head of Iolani School.

In the fall, Iolani School plans to prepare students to take this technology with them into the workforce.

“We will likely have clubs and curricular ChatGPT. This is a disruptive technology, with a lot of different uses. We want our students to be empowered users of it and our facility to understand what its all about,” added Cottrell.

At Chaminade University, there are no policies prohibiting its use, and Askildson says there will be much more discussion over ChatGPT in the future.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s Communication Director Nanea Kalani issued this statement, “Hawaii schools and students can’t access ChatGPT on the Department’s network, so it’s not being used in classrooms right now.”

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