How ChatGPT can be a valuable asset to education

Issue: Volume 102, Number 6

Posted: 11 May 2023
Reference #: 1HA_ny

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of utilising artificial intelligence (AI) in education to enhance learning experiences. One such AI tool that has recently sparked conversation and gained popularity is ChatGPT-4. Education Gazette shares discussion from one tertiary learning designer.

Disclaimer: This article is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the position of the Ministry of Education. There is a duty of care to warn of potential harms and risks around the early release of technologies like ChatGPT given they have little to no safeguards. Teachers, parents and whānau should be aware that ChatGPT has a minimum age requirement of 18 for its users.


We will continue to explore this topic as new information emerges and would love to hear about your experiences with AI in the classroom, including ChatGPT. Get in touch by emailing


For some, the thought of a system that can write answers for assessment questions with little input from students has caused concern. Unlike websites that offer paid assessment writing for students, systems such as ChatGPT-4 are free and much faster. 

A warning on the Massey University student portal website states, “Artificial Intelligence platforms such as ChatGPT can potentially be useful tools in your learning, but using them might cause you to do things that are considered to be dishonest academic behaviour.”

While there is the potential for students to use the system to ‘cheat’, there are many, if not more, opportunities for good.   

ChatGPT has only further highlighted the potential for AI to have significant implications – both positive and negative, across the system – at a classroom level and beyond. 

ChatGPT is a Large Language Model developed by OpenAI that uses natural language processing (NLP) to generate human-like responses to a wide range of questions and prompts. This tool has been used in various fields, including customer service, healthcare, and finance, but its potential in education is still being explored.

Personalised learning

ChatGPT can be used as a virtual assistant for students, providing them with immediate feedback on their work. It can answer questions, provide explanations, and even suggest study materials based on a student’s individual needs and interests.

Peter Welch, a learning designer at Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, says, “It can provide personalised learning opportunities for students through its learning and content recommendations and intelligent tutoring systems.”

A key advantage in using ChatGPT in education is that it can adapt to each student’s unique learning style and pace.

For example, if you ask ChatGPT to provide you with resources to write an essay about a particular topic, it will generate ideas about the type of sources to look for and provide some to start with. It can also re-write articles or learning materials in a style that best suits the learner. 

ChatGPT can also be used to enhance collaborative learning by facilitating group discussions and brainstorming sessions. It can suggest discussion topics, provide prompts to keep the conversation going, and even summarise the key points of the discussion for future reference.

Critical thinking

Large Language Models like ChatGPT can be unreliable, as they compile text convincingly, but do not understand what they have created.

Experiments with current versions of AI have demonstrated that they haven’t been taught to discern truth from fiction, and therefore to reply to factual queries with facts. Although it doesn’t actually know what the ‘truth’ is, it can, for example, reply to learner queries with plausible sounding but factually incorrect answers. 

This presents new challenges for educators, but also opportunities to make learning relevant and exciting. 

Teachers can use AI to develop critical thinking skills, particularly around how to discern true from less truthful responses online. The Literacy & Communications and Maths strategy(external link) and Hei Raukura Mō te Mokopuna(external link) recognise that critical literacy includes being literate in a digital space.

Peter says students also need to realise that ChatGPT is not a complete substitute and can get things wrong – it can generate responses using incorrect sources, particularly if the instructions are not clear. 

It is therefore important to let students know they need to ‘fact check’ anything that is written by ChatGPT, which in turn can create the critical thinking and literacy opportunities.

Peter gives an example of a learning opportunity, saying teachers can get students to ask ChatGPT to write a report but then have students check its accuracy and write where there may be errors and where it is correct. This can help students who are not talented writers display their understanding of a topic. 

Knowing when and how to utilise AI safely in a learning environment is going to require continual consideration, and it will be important to ask complex questions including, ‘How do we make sure Māori values and the aspirations of whānau, hāpu, and iwi are reflected?’

Generative AI like ChatGPT have been trained on content that can be freely accessed on the internet, and most of this content reflects contemporary, dominant cultures and languages. This means that the tools may not be able to provide results that reflect indigenous knowledge.


A new tool in the kete

Peter says teachers can benefit from ChatGPT by using it to automate certain tasks, such as grading multiple-choice quizzes.

A YouTube segment which shows how teachers can use ChatGPT for grading work demonstrates just how quickly detailed and positive feedback can be generated through supplying a marking rubric along with the assignments. This same type of feedback can be used by students to see how their assignment might be graded and what the weaknesses are. 

According to Peter, ChatGPT can also be incorporated into education by using predictive analytics to identify students who may need additional support and utilising virtual assistants for administrative tasks.

However, it is important to note that ChatGPT is not a substitute for human interaction and should not be relied on as the sole source of feedback and support. 

Using ChatGPT or similar tools for marking work could also be unfair, as it does not understand the basis for the judgements so this could be discriminatory.

It is merely a tool that can enhance the learning experience and facilitate more meaningful interactions between students and teachers. 

Challenges to consider

Even when ChatGPT is used to aid learning in these ways, Peter explains there are some potential downsides in using AI such as ChatGPT. 

“There is the potential for further widening the digital divide and exacerbating existing inequalities in access to education and resources.”

Peter does add that there are ways to help overcome this, saying, “This threat can be overcome by ensuring that AI is designed and implemented in an inclusive and equitable manner, and that policies are put in place to address any potential biases or disparities. 

“This includes ensuring access to AI technologies and training for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, and ensuring that AI systems are transparent and accountable.”

To help educators adapt the use of AI technology in their teaching practice, Peter suggests: 

  • Staying up to date on current AI trends and developments
  • Being critical consumers of AI technologies and advocating for transparent and ethical AI practices
  • Ensuring that AI technologies are implemented in a way that is inclusive and equitable
  • Providing training for students and staff on how to use and interact with AI systems
  • Using AI technologies to enhance, rather than replace, human interaction and engagement in the classroom.

“The future for AI in education is likely to involve further integration of AI technologies into classroom instruction and administration, as well as continued development of personalised learning experiences and adaptive learning technologies,” says Peter. 

Research is also well underway across the wider sector, as illustrated by a 2020 OECD Report.  

Ministry of Education information

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely to have an increasing impact on education systems over the coming years. Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga is developing policies and advice about this to ensure the system is well prepared. In the interim, the Ministry has prepared some initial points that schools and teachers should be aware of.

For more information, visit link)

Further reading and news on ChatGPT

2020 OECD Report: Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Education(external link)

One News – Chat GPT use being considered by education sector(external link)

Stuff – ChatGPT: How teachers are bringing AI tech into the classroom(external link)

Radio New Zealand – ChatGPT could be used to improve learning in schools, PPTA, AI expert say(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:49 am, 11 May 2023

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