Insight on the AI writing tool’s impact on learning from one of the world’s top edtechs.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
Melissa Loble is Chief Customer Experience Officer at Instructure. Melissa leads their customer success and services organizations. She’s a champion for crucial customer-focused topics like data usage and privacy—and it’s her personal mission to drive innovation in customer experience and enable customers to leverage her company’s solutions in engaging and effective learning environments.
‘Most of the feedback our customers shared with us about ChatGPT has been positive, and many educators are already embracing and exploring the AI tool as a positive resource for themselves and their students.’
Melissa (pictured) has spent 20 years in educational technology working for a number of technology suppliers and educational institutions, as well as teaching leadership courses on managing technology for educational change. She has a master’s degree in educational policy from Teachers College, Columbia University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Instructure was recently named on the TOP 10 Companies to Watch list in EdTech Digest’s STATE OF EDTECH 2023-2024 report. Here, she provides valuable insight into the approach of a forward-leaning firm on this rapidly advancing technology.
AI education tools are not new in edtech, why do you think ChatGPT has struck such a chord with educators and schools across the country?
The reaction to ChatGPT has been much louder than the response we’ve seen with other AI tech in education because of how advanced and accessible this particular tool is. ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach education by providing an intuitive and interactive platform for students and educators to engage in learning. With its advanced natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can help students understand and retain complex concepts, as well as provide personalized feedback and support. Additionally, its ability to generate human-like text can also be used to create engaging educational content, such as interactive stories and simulations. Overall, ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can enhance the learning experience for students and make education more accessible and effective. This makes it so much more than the cheating tool that is getting much of the recent press.
What are some of the specific concerns ChatGPT has raised with educators/schools?
Most of the feedback our customers shared with us about ChatGPT has been positive, and many educators are already embracing and exploring the AI tool as a positive resource for themselves and their students. We believe that across education we need to stop viewing ChatGPT as merely a cheating tool and embrace it as a tool to improve teaching and learning.
While some reactions to ChatGPT in education have been negative (outright bans) or apprehensive, what potential advantages does ChatGPT offer educators/schools? Who do you think can benefit from this tool in education, and how?
At Instructure, we believe ChatGPT has a range of underrated advantages for both students and teachers, including:
• Personalized learning: ChatGPT can provide students with interactive, personalized learning experiences that can help them understand and retain information better.
• Intelligent Tutoring: ChatGPT can act as an intelligent tutor, providing students with feedback and support as they work through problems and concepts.
• Content Generation: ChatGPT can be used to generate educational content such as interactive stories, simulations, and quizzes, which can make learning more engaging and interactive for students.
• Language Learning: ChatGPT can help non-native speakers to improve their language skills through interactive conversations.
• Automation of Grading: ChatGPT can be used to grade student work automatically which can save the educators time and effort.
What advice or suggestions do you and your company have for educators who are intimidated by or apprehensive about ChatGPT?
Across Instructure, we are actively investigating ChatGPT’s potential as a tool to improve teaching and learning. More broadly, we see AI technology as a new reality in education that students will use throughout their life long learning journey, so keeping that in mind, our best advice for educators learning to navigate ChatGPT, and AI tools like it, is to work with the technology, not against it.
First off, it’s important to realize that simply blocking ChatGPT, like some schools and districts have attempted to do, will not work. Blocking the tool on school-owned devices will not prevent students from accessing it on their own phones, laptops, etc. And while ChatGPT is the first tool of its kind, it’s simply the first of many to come.
‘…while ChatGPT is the first tool of its kind, it’s simply the first of many to come.’
Trying to block every AI writing tool would be a time-consuming and distracting exercise, so instead, we think educators’ and administrators’ time is better spent on ways to work alongside these tools versus trying to ban them.
On a similar note, it’s equally important to acknowledge AI tools can be extremely valuable to educators, if embraced appropriately. AI tools can be an effective support in delivering a personalized learning experience for students while saving educators time, as outlined above. ChatGPT can be used to generate educational content, serve as an intelligent and interactive tutor, and can even assist teachers with their grading workload.
Even if the emergence of AI tools in education seems intimidating or unfamiliar, this is an undeniable new reality, and we believe educators and administrators can serve themselves and their students best by embracing the technology and working to utilize it in the most productive and positive way possible.
What concerns, if any, does your company have about the use of ChatGPT in education?
Simply blocking ChatGPT won’t work. Blocking the tool on school-owned devices will not prevent students from accessing it on their own phones, laptops etc. And while ChatGPT is the first tool of its kind, it’s simply the first of many to come and trying to block them all would be a time consuming and ultimately fruitless exercise.
We also need to find better ways to measure mastery of content/skills. The relatively small number of students who turn to cheating will always find ways to exploit loopholes. Helping students understand and value the importance of the skills they’re developing through the learning journey, and finding less-corruptible ways of measuring their mastery of the learning already exist today. Group discussions, proctored exams and in class writing exercises preclude the use of AI tools.
How could ChatGPT impact the future of education as a whole?
ChatGPT is clearly already affecting the future of education. AI can be a valuable tool for educators when embraced appropriately. Those tools can be a valuable support in delivering a personalized learning experience for students while also saving educators time. Instead of fearing AI, we should be looking at ways to leverage these powerful tools to enhance teaching and learning.
‘Instead of fearing AI, we should be looking at ways to leverage these powerful tools to enhance teaching and learning.’
Will we still be talking about ChatGPT this time next year?
Yes. Like it or not, AI is the future. AI tools are already available today that enable people with little to no knowledge of code to write software and develop apps, tools capable of generating content for marketing and legal applications, to those enabling non-designers to create artwork that meets their needs. These tools will only become more advanced and more ubiquitous in the near future and failing to prepare students for their use would be a failure of higher education.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org