Schools Lift ChatGPT Bans in Classrooms Despite Cheating Fears

( – Last year, AI chatbots started gaining popularity, particularly ChatGPT. It sparked a lot of fear, particularly in the creative world, because it’s touted as a tool that can help with writing, art, and music. In education, it became controversial because many school officials and teachers believed students could use it to cheat. Some schools outright banned it, while others discouraged its use. Now, it seems as though they’re reconsidering their initial stance.

ChatGPT Banned

Last year, after the popularity of ChatGPT and similar AI bots soared, several large districts, including those in New York City and Los Angeles, the largest and second largest in the nation, respectively, blocked its use on school-owned devices and on the Wi-Fi networks. It wasn’t a very effective tactic, as many were able to use their personal devices to skirt around the bans.

Still, many teachers and professors warned students against its use and said those who used it to complete their assignments would be considered plagiarizing. That train of thinking didn’t last very long.

Schools Reverse Course

Just a few months after New York City schools issued the ban, they did an about-face. Administrators admitted that they acted hastily before learning more about the tool’s capabilities and said they would no longer block it. The Los Angeles Unified School District is also working on a policy regarding the tool’s use, according to The New York Times.

Melinda Person, president of New York State United Teachers, believes that teaching students how to use it is critical to their future, because AI is here to stay. She said employers “are going to demand skills that we haven’t even dreamed up yet,” and it’s important to teach them how to use them properly so that they have a chance at securing jobs after school.

A Helpful Tool in the Classroom

While educators caution against using ChatGPT to do all of the work, many are embracing it as a lesson planner to help teachers. Several are also using it as a way to show how AI can introduce fallacies into work as well as replicate biases, a learning lesson that can help students harness the powers of the tool rather than fall into a negative pattern.

According to an Impact Reach poll commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, 58% of teachers and 61% of parents have a favorable view of ChatGPT. In the same vein, 84% of educators say it has had a positive impact on their classrooms overall.

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