A recent study found 84% of computer coders believe educational institutions should adjust their programming curriculum for ChatGPT.
Just a year after its release, a new report shows ChatGPT’s startling impact on computer science education. After becoming the fastest-adopted technology in history, with over 100M users in the first month, ChatGPT is changing classrooms unlike any technology in generations.
A New Educational Paradigm
The classroom, for the most part, hasn’t changed much in 100 years. Rows of front-facing desks point at a teacher who stands before a board, explaining ideas to students.
For the last twelve months, however, a newly emerged paradigm has been shifting this age-old tradition. An Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is doing the teaching, and each student gets individual attention. The report from Programiz surveyed over 10,000 programmers and coders, just over half of whom were existing students. 67% said ChatGPT was their “primary source or aid for learning programming.”
Students arriving at college to study computer science come with differing levels of competence in various programming languages. Lectures on basic concepts might be vital to some but are already well-known to more experienced students.
It’s a common problem in educational circles: how do you teach a group with different abilities without boring the brightest or leaving behind the least capable? One-on-one teaching is the answer, but it’s rarely economically feasible until now. Using an A.I. like ChatGPT to do the teaching, every student can set goals and get the personalized instruction they require.
What did the students think?
30% of respondents felt that ChatGPT outperforms college lectures, and 36% preferred it over using Google.
Instant Answers and Feedback
Unlike traditional classroom teaching, book learning, or even performing a web search, using the ChatGPT gives students instant answers. For example, students can ask ChatGPT to “correct my code” and paste their code, and the A.I. will debug the problems and provide an instant fix. Once corrected, the student can query, “explain what I did wrong,” and ChatGPT will provide an explanation.
No other teaching method can simultaneously give this kind of instant feedback to a classroom full of learners.
Students see the value, too. 72% say they use ChatGPT multiple times per week, and they can save the answers within a second brain app, like Obsidian.
When a student has a specific problem, they need a specific solution. No matter how good a lecturer is, there’s no way they can solve every student’s individual issue. Many also feel uncomfortable raising their problems in class, depending on their personality type. Students must find an alternative. Usually, that means searching Google for others who have had a similar problem, but when they find an answer, they might need more than their exact issue.
When coding something unique, finding a precise answer to a coding problem is very unlikely. What makes ChatGPT different is that it can understand what the students are trying to do, read the code, and provide specific answers.
Engaging Learning Environment
Students will have difficulty learning much in class if a professor is hard to understand or quickly gets side-tracked. With an A.I. instructor, however, it will adapt to how the student wants to learn.
If a student struggles, asking the program to “explain that again in simpler terms” is all it takes. Asking ChatGPT to “give 5 examples with increasing complexity” or “quiz me like a game show and keep score.”
Rather than explaining dry concepts, ChatGPT can show how to use the idea to code a game or anything the learner finds more interesting. By making their learning environment more stimulating, students become more interested and ultimately learn better.
Will ChatGPT Replace Traditional Education Methods Anytime Soon?
84% of the I.T. specialists and students surveyed feel that educational institutions should adjust their programming curriculum for ChatGPT. However, when asked if it could completely replace traditional teaching methods, only 17% agreed.
ChatGPT and other large language models like Google’s PaLM, which powers Bard, are newer technologies. Although they can already give tremendous value, developers are still making necessary improvements. 33% of users reported that there were glitches or bugs with ChatGPT. Other common complaints included “inconsistencies in responses” and “inaccurate or irrelevant responses.”
So don’t expect a radical overhaul of the educational system anytime soon. However, A.I. models like ChatGPT will likely become increasingly common.