BY Saro Hartounian & Melissa Megueis

Sarine Derb, 17, is attending her final year of high school and is writing up a question on ChatGPT.

She has a five-page history essay on World War 2 due next week and she wants to have more time to herself.

“It’s really cool, and saves my life. It’s like having a tutor that can bail me out when I’m stuck and Mom doesn’t have to pay for it, you know? It’s making my grades go up and I can hang out with my friends for more than just two hours at night,” she says.

Her mother, Christine Kalogropoulos on the other hand, is wary of her daughter’s studying habits.

She thinks that Sarine might not be learning from the work her teacher gives and could be using AI sites as a crutch instead.

“I’m just cautious about her dependency on them. Sarine needs to learn that you don’t get better in life by easily getting solutions for problems, but rather tackle them head-on and using your head. I just hope she isn’t using this to cheat on her exams…”

Sarine Derb on ChatGPT

Sarine Derb searches up a question regarding WW2 on OpenAI’s Chat GPT. Photo by Saro Hartounian.

Vasilios Giorgi, Homeroom and history teacher at Vincent Massey High School starts his history classes with facts on the topic they will be covering.

However, instead of seeing the faces of his students,he sees the back of their laptop screens.

“The amount of students with laptops over the years has increased, to the point that, it’s weird to think a decade ago it was weird when a kid had a laptop,” says Giorgi.

When Giorgi explains a topic to his class, a student will raise their hand and try to correct him.

“I wouldn’t mind it if I was actually incorrect but when they say that Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1945 instead of 1941 I have to put my foot down,” he says.

This would not be the last instance of a student presenting incorrect information according to Giorgi.

“I mean it depends on the character of the kid really. I have some real model students who claim to have never used sites like ChatGPT,” he says. “Then again, my peers have had different stories.”

At Vincent Massey Collegiate, Giorgi believes there’s a need for a nuanced understanding of AI’s role in education.

“We’re witnessing a seismic shift in how students engage with information and technology,” he says. “AI offers incredible tools for learning, but it also raises ethical questions that demand our attention.”

In the dynamic landscape of education, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) has marked a profound shift in teaching methodologies, learning experiences, and administrative processes. Photo by Saro Hartounian.

There is much appeal to AI-driven solutions. With personalized learning algorithms and virtual tutoring platforms. However, there are rising concerns about over-reliance and ethical misconduct of students using AI.

A study done by KPMG showed that 52 percent of Canadian students above the age of 18 years old admit to using “generative AI” to aid in their homework.

Computers and 3D printers in the creative lab

Schools nowadays have more “Creative Labs” instead of libraries. These creative labs are essentially computer labs with all the bells and whistles. As seen here we have 3D printers alongside the computers for students who wish to venture into DT (Design Tech). Photo by Saro Hartounian.

That being said, while 70 percent of those students said they saw improvement in their grades, around 60 percent of surveyed students considered it cheating.

As exam pressures mount, educators such as Mr. Giorgi might lean on Grammarly’s research to maintain academic integrity in the face of AI-enabled assistance. This is to ensure that all students are being equally challenged and having the opportunity to develop their own critical thinking and writing skills without relying solely on automated tools.

Grammarly’s statistics underscore the need for professional development to incorporate AI into education. Their reach and expertise in the field informs discussions on privacy, data security, and advocacy for safeguards to protect student privacy.

There is optimism about the transformative potential of AI in education. According to Grammarly, “over 30 million people, 70,000 teams, and 3,000 educational institutions” use the site as of 2023, and they have seen many benefits: 87 percent of students have saved an hour per week by using Grammarly premium as well as having benefited them in improving their grades.

Technology and online games are being used to help young students learn to read and write. Video by Melissa Migueis.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) however, recognizes the importance of addressing AI’s impact on education.

“I can tell you, just like any other level of education, the use of AI to complete any school assignments is not acceptable,” says Michael Cohen, a member of the English Montreal School Board. “Students need to be creative and use the natural sources of research and make presentations in their own words. Using AI for school work is equal to plagiarism and that would come with consequences.”

According to Cohen, resorting to AI for academic tasks is tantamount to plagiarism and must be met with consequences.

Main image by Saro Hartounian.
Published May 13, 2024.