ChatGPT — more experimenting

I finally got on ChatGPT, and I like it. I asked it to write a few things — a poem in the style of Goethe and another in the style of Du Fu. They were both on target but not great poetry. It also told me who Goethe and Du Fu were. I asked it ethical questions about how I could use it in my college English classes. It’s been well trained for that and, I think, difficult to abuse. I asked it (after it wrote a sappy love story with happy ending) if it were capable of writing a story with an equivocal ending. It proceeded to write one and then told me what an equivocal ending is and why it’s used and how it engages people. I told it I liked it and it thanked me for the positive remark and explained its mission. I asked it various questions related to teaching college English and got useful answers that I’d put on a syllabus.

If I were teaching today I would learn all I could about this interface and introduce it to my students as I did introduce Grammarly when it came out and I’d played with it.

It took 3 days for me to get on ChatGPT to try it out. When I suggested that people must have had fun making it, it explained to me that fun has nothing to do with it, which made me laugh because I was having a LOT of fun with it.

Here’s a slideshow based on the questions I asked it about its use in a college English class. I might actually (were I teaching) give this as an assignment, to help my students find out how to use it responsibly. I identified myself as an English teacher; I wouldn’t have my students do that, of course. I’d give them the statement to start with, “I’m in a college English class and my professor wants to know how I could use you to help me with my essays.” It’s a very cool tool, way too much fun, and it might actually suck students into writing… In my career one of the hardest things for students was the solitude of writing.

14 thoughts on “ChatGPT — more experimenting

  1. These are great ideas for use in a college English class…I am going to share them with the colleagues in the ENGL Dept for sure. I’m sure our next division meeting will have people complaining about ChatGPT, and won’t love it when I suggest that they incorporate into their classes, but you have a good idea here and I’m going to spread it!

    • Thank you! I believed in going with the future in which my students will live.

      And… one thing I learned over time is that by facing something straight on and teaching kids to use it diminishes the likelihood it will be abused.

      • would you write my essays for me?

        As a language model AI, I am capable of providing you with suggestions, guidance and examples of different types of essays and papers. However, it would be unethical for me to write your essays for you. Not only would this be considered academic dishonesty, but it would also prevent you from developing your own writing skills and understanding of the material.

        It is important that you understand the material and that you are able to express your own thoughts and ideas in your writing. It is through this process that you will learn and grow as a student and a writer. I would recommend that you put in the effort to write your own essays and papers, and seek help and guidance when needed.

        Maybe if the English teachers in your division tried it out? I know what English teachers can be like… I was one and NOT typical AT ALL or I probably would’ve gotten tenure. In fact, I was told as much…

    • I just asked, “What’a a thesis statement?” I got the identical definition I learned in High school… I’m beginning to think that the developers had English classes as part of their design target. I love this.

      A thesis statement is a sentence or two in the introduction of an essay or research paper that presents the main idea or central argument of the work. It is often the last sentence of the introduction and serves as a roadmap for the rest of the paper, guiding the reader through the main points and evidence that will be presented. A thesis statement should be specific, clear, and arguable, and it should be supported by evidence throughout the paper.

  2. Interesting point, that it could keep you engaged while you are at a solitary task. I realize that there’s quite a bit of science fiction that explores the limits of that kind of companionship

    • I had a lot of students who would come to my office and write their papers because they didn’t want to do it alone. I had one kid with PTSD from serving something like 8 years in Afghanistan who would only do in-class writing if he sat at my desk in the classroom with me. It was something to learn how terrified some students are of writing. They didn’t want my help so much as moral support.

      ChatGPT as a tool for students seems to have been developed to be professionally neutral (naturally) in a kind way. That was astonishing to me this evening as I messed around with it. I could imagine some of my past students LIKING it as a writing “buddy.” I think that’s OK.

      It could also help ADHD students keep on track. AND if a student asked it for a draft it could, potentially, help a student learn the most important part of writing which is revision because its products ARE flawed. A teacher could show students how that works.

      I think it’s teaching tool I’ve dreamed of my whole career.

    • Then try it out some more. Challenge it with what scares you. It has major limitations and how it will work (is working for us all the time) depends on us.

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