Impact of ChatGPT on Education and EdTech

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gained steam in recent years and is playing an increasingly prominent role in almost every industry – including education. Whether it's personalized learning, automated grading, intelligent tutoring systems, or virtual learning assistants, AI tools have become essential for educational institutions. They provide invaluable help leading to cost savings and improved learning outcomes. 

This blog will cover ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant bot that has been on the radar of educators, students, regulators, and education specialists since its release in November 2022. Many are debating whether AI technology is suitable for the education industry with optimism and caution. Learners and instructors are optimistic because they believe the tool will improve their learning and teaching. However, on a cautionary note, some experts believe that ChatGPT is a double-edged sword because it poses cheating possibilities and exacerbates educational inequity. We will investigate these arguments by evaluating both sides of the issue. We will focus on various sections of the education sector (K-12 and Higher Education, testing & assessment, and Edtech/online learning) and their functional applications. We will offer some solutions or best practices and evaluate ChatGPT's overall disruptive capacity. We will utilize the Technological Trend Analysis and Assessment framework from Evalueserve.

So, what are the primary use cases for ChatGPT, and how can it disrupt the traditional learning process or threaten different incumbents in the Education and EdTech space?

First of all, ChatGPT can enhance personalized learning. The tool allows teachers to create lesson plans and personalized materials in minutes instead of hours. Teachers can create a more engaging and effective learning experience for their students. Because of its potential to offer one-to-one instruction for learners and answer questions in real-time, ChatGPT can challenge online tutoring solutions providers, such as Chegg, Think Academy, or Students will benefit as they can study at their own pace and focus on areas of improvement.

ChatGPT can provide targeted and tailored feedback as it evaluates learners' output. That allows students to close educational gaps by identifying strengths and weaknesses that were difficult to spot and address. Some online providers, like Coursera, already use AI to identify frequently made mistakes learners make in their homework. Teachers can also create customized tests and assessments using ChatGPT to generate content. The quasi-free nature of the tool and its versatility might endanger the business model for some companies, such as Chegg or Course Hero, which charge a fee for homework aid. 

The AI chatbot helps students practice their reading comprehension skills by providing tailored questions and feedback on their answers. The tool can improve critical thinking and analytical skills if applied correctly. Assisting students in language learning is yet another essential feature of ChatGPT. Learners can use the tool to understand grammar, undertake vocabulary and pronunciation exercises, translate phrases, or provide real-time translations. By using it extensively and leveraging it in more complex ways, learners can replace established language learning apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, or Mondly. 

ChatGPT's most important use is its potential as a writing assistant. It allows students and teachers to generate content ideas that inspire them to write essays on any topic. Moreover, they can help create different drafts of the same essay and suggest improvement areas regarding grammar, clarity, or conciseness. Thus, the tool allows users to overcome writer's block and generate new perspectives on their chosen topic. The implications are enormous in business and ethics. Using ChatGPT, content writers might rethink paying huge subscriptions for AI copywriting tools such as Jasper or AI. Writing assistants such as Grammarly or Quillbox might also face competition. The most significant implication is ethics. According to Stephen Marche from the Atlantic, "The College Essay is Dead" as ChatGPT endangers the existence of the most essential tool in educational assessment: writing essays and its learning implications for skills attainment. research shows 89% of students aged 18+ admitted using ChatGPT for their homework assignments. The AI chatbot can completely or partially write the essay for them, raising an alarm about cheating. Already 26% of educators in K-12 have identified at least one student cheating using ChatGPT.

Moreover, besides cheating, plagiarism is a major problem in academia. Another issue is ChatGPT's ability to pass exams in different domains: the AI bot has passed a Wharton Business School Exam, the United States Medical Licensing Exam, and four law school courses at the University of Minnesota. AI tools can pass the history, art, microbiology, physics, or mathematics exams. Academic dishonesty is also an issue because of ChatGPT's ability to write scientific articles that could qualify for a first academic review. This worries experts about its negative impact on research. 

Considering this, it is no wonder some school districts (e.g., New York, Los Angeles, Seattle) or universities worldwide (e.g., Sciences Po, Washington University) chose to ban the AI tool from their networks and devices. 

Plagiarism and cheating aside, ChatGPT is an excellent research assistant with powerful "research skills" and the potential to summarize long texts or articles. Integrations with Bing or Office 365 Copilot will make the AI tool more powerful and increase its overall usage. Students and educators can reduce time spent reading, analyzing, and understanding complex academic materials. Even more, this is helpful for students and educators with ADHD or other disorders that affect concentration. Still, overreliance on the tool might backfire; experts caution that using AI in research should not replace critical thinking and research skills, and students should still learn to evaluate and analyze information independently.

Another caveat with using ChatGPT as a research assistant is its limitations regarding data accuracy, citation of sources, or even providing biased search results based on previous user interactions. Despite generating academic texts, it only sometimes offers reliable and up-to-date information: papers written using ChatGPT were proven factually incorrect. Being used extensively on campus by students, education experts see the potential of lowering academic standards, as professors need to identify and highlight in real-time what is human and what is not in student assignments.

ChatGPT is here to stay.

Similar to Google, Wikipedia, and the calculator, ChatGPT will continue to influence how educators and students interact with knowledge and technology. This will impact the education ecosystem. According to a recent Ipsos survey, education and learning will be the industry most affected by AI in the next three to five years. Moreover, 77% of respondents feel AI will enhance Education and learning. This is also supported by research conducted by Global Market Insights, which determined that the current worldwide AI in Education market size is $4Bn, but is expected to grow to $30Bn by 2032 due to rising usage in higher education and corporate training.

ChatGPT is currently in the Trough of Disillusionment stage of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Still, OpenAI, in partnership with Microsoft, aims to enhance its capabilities, improve performance, and monetize future developments. ChatGPT4’s release in March 2023 has already stirred controversy as the tool seems more accurate, reliable, and responds faster. These improvements and increased integration with different productivity tools (Slack, Zoom, Salesforce) will increase adoption. So embracing the trend is better than fighting it. 

Based on our extensive experience in the Education industry and deep knowledge of AI, we have listed below some recommendations for the future:

  • Banning or prohibiting ChatGPT will not help. Such action frustrate instructors, learners, and regulators. Better to embrace it and set clear ground rules for its use in schools or academia, just like the University College of London did
  • ChatGPT still needs to constitute a real threat to conventional assessment models. It is clear that future assessment models must focus more on independent and critical thinking, deductive reasoning, creative thinking, and questioning and validating data inputs.
  • As ChatGPT evolves, there will be a need for more oversight and transparency to discern human-created content from AI-created content. At this point, regulators are far outpaced by technological innovation, but the debate stirred by all stakeholders will surely prompt lawmakers to take action.
  • Using ChatGPT for your assignments will get you a C or C-, ensuring you can pass your assignments. Still, more "human" effort must be put into reaching an A or an A+, and relying overly on AI tools for college/academic performance would be a great mistake and might backfire in the long term. 
  • To end on a positive note, we believe that by relying more on ChatGPT or similar AI tools in the future to automate some processes/tasks (study guides, summaries, concept maps, practice tests, quizzes, etc.), the education process will focus more on the human side of the process. The ultimate goal should be to move away from memorization to building long-lasting skills the future workforce will need. As we’ve already seen, using ChatGPT the right way will help educators and learners use more well-rounded educational approaches, such as project-based, inquiry-based, collaborative, personalized, or cross-disciplinary learning.

How can Evalueserve help?

Evalueserve is a leading research and analytics firm providing insights into global trends affecting Education and EdTech. Evalueserve's expert researchers work closely with our clients to understand their unique needs and tailor their research and analysis to meet those needs.

Considering its extensive experience in analyzing trends and their impact on various sectors or sub-sectors, Evalueserve has developed a well-defined Technological Trend Analysis and Assessment framework. The framework can be leveraged to conduct comprehensive research and analysis on the latest developments in technologies like ChatGPT in these fields. The framework is based on a thorough understanding of the industry, its key players, and the latest technological innovations. It is structured to help clients understand when and how to pivot in the face of evolving trends.  

Alexandru Onojescu
Senior Manager, Education and EdTech Practice Posts
Maria Purcariu
Senior Analyst, Education and EdTech Practice Posts

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