The following article comes from Tatiana Popa, Head of Global Education at Heritage International School, Moldova.

It looks like ChatGPT is the elephant in the room, for some school or staff room conversations. For as long as it exists, there is no way we can avoid this talk. And it is present everywhere.

If you don’t believe it, start a conversation with your students during lesson time about it – pretend you don’t know what exactly it is but you heard it’s something phenomenal – I bet they will be happy to “teach” you and to show all the miracles the chatbot is capable of.

At Heritage International School, we kept on reading news about ChatGPT since it was launched in late November 2022, but we didn’t make it  a formal or informal topic in December, with end of semester reports, grades and mock exams. We left it for January, to begin the second semester and thus to mark a new start in the academic journey. With a new academic honesty policy in place and all that might bring.

As we always do when it comes to a new digital tool, a teacher must try it out himself before going with it in front of a classroom. The same happened with ChatGPT. I give students various assignments, including lots of written tasks, and I quickly had to use AI content detectors this semester. It was a big surprise for my students to receive, instead of a grade, a screenshot with the result and my comment about academic honesty based on it. 

The reactions were different: some immediately started to rewrite the task, while others replied that it was their original content. A teacher shouldn’t be a great expert in depicting lies – he/she only needs to know their students well, and when reading a submission they will understand what is original content and what is plagiarised or written by a bot. The same happened to me.

My students and I have been using OpenAI and, more exactly, Dall-e for two years now, and the improved version  Dall-e 2 is even more impressive. We have a whole unit in Global Perspectives for stage 7 on Employment and we look at the future of work, AI at the workplace etc. We use AI in our daily work as educators unconsciously and unknowingly, so why are we scared? And: are We scared? As teachers, we write emails that show predictive text (at least on Gmail), we use search engines, Youtube gives us suggestions, our social media uses algorithms to decide what we like to see on our streams and to offer suggestions, etc etc.

We are not even aware of all the AI that is present in our daily lives already. Why are we so scared of the new ChatGPT? Is it a real game changer for education worldwide?

Technology showed advancement in the past months as never shown before.. One new feature causes a whole new technology switch that offers a platform for other improvements and so on and so forth. 

Before I start to explain what generative AI is, I will say that I am more than sure any educator has already searched and read definitions and explanations, given by experts, not by me. I am just a teacher who loves technology and keeps an eye on what is new out there and could bring value to our teaching. Also, teachers are lifelong learners who make sure they are informed and can have different conversations with their students, on a variety of topics. 

Being a teacher in this fast-changing world, I am convinced that we cannot afford to teach today as yesterday and not to equip our learners with the skills they need for the future. Especially when it comes to technology, we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist or we cannot “uninvent” it.

There is a quote circulating on teacher forums, and it tells us all we need to know about the relationship teacher-technology nowadays: 

“Technology won’t replace teachers…but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who do not.”

It all goes back to curiosity, both for teachers and students. Tell a student not to use ChatGPT – they will go straight to it to get the experience, if not in school then at home. Tell a teacher it can help them design their lesson plans in minutes, or create a programme, or design something else. I showed teachers in the TeachMeet training on a Saturday morning at Heritage how ChatGPT created a poem in Romanian in the style of our famous poet Mihai Eminescu. It was hilarious, and no one will ever create such genius writing, but it did, according to my prompt, and we all had fun recognising some features of Eminescu writing. Not to say how they all practised in the IT lab to use OpenAI’s ChatGPT later… Different languages, different prompts and results. 

We cannot uninvent it, but there are already tools to detect AI generated text, which educators can use. They can update their academic honesty policy, as we did at Heritage, and to go through it, once again,with their students, just to make sure they know what is allowed and what is not.

Teachers have always got equipped with knowledge to keep pace with all that was new, why not doing the same now? I am taking for example, the new course from the European Schoolnet Academy – Unlocking the Power of AI.

Those who think it’s only ChatGPT on the market are totally wrong – there is Bing AI, Google Bart, GPT4 and who knows what more coming. Once invented, we either ignore them or we change our pedagogy so that we can benefit from them and education does not suffer.  Is this at all possible? 

To learn more about the use of AI in education, register to attend the free GSA webinar “How to use AI/ChatGPT in schools” on April 18th.


Tatiana Popa

Tatiana is the Head of Global Education and an English teacher at Heritage International School. She has been in teaching since 2007. She has a Masters degree in English Philology.

Tatiana is an eTwinning Ambassador since 2015 and an awarded eTwinner. She has a wide experience in collaboration projects, in creating tutorials and delivering webinars for teachers.

Follow Tatiana on Twitter – @Tatianapopab