Explore the phenomenon: Chat GPT

Learning material that examines the Chat GPT language model developed by the OpenAI organization based on artificial intelligence. With the help of text, video and tasks, find out what it is good for the teacher and the student to know about this phenomenon.

Chat GPT was launched for the public on 30 November 2022, and it conquered the world in no time. The service got 100 million users in two months, whereas for TikTok, a popular platform among young people, this took nine months. Chat GPT is an AI-based service that gives answers to various questions. AI as such is not a new thing. However, Spotify’s recommendations, Google Translate’s translations or Siri’s answers to questions have not stirred up debate on how AI affects everyday life, society and working life. Chat GPT has.

ChatGPT is an example of generative AI, meaning AI solutions that can automatically generate new content such as text in this case. Chat GPT is based on the GPT-3 language model developed by the organisation OpenAI, and this model has been trained by using the vast amount of texts available on the internet. Unlike the chatbots we encounter in online customer service, Chat GPT gives answers to questions on various topics, giving the impression that we are communicating with a person. At the time of writing (on February 2023), one of the restrictions is that the newest information used to teach the language model is from the year 2021, so Chat GPT does not know more recent events.

How can Chat GPT be used? Chat GPT can, for example, pick up the main points from a text, summarise a phenomenon with bullet points, or suggests dishes for a Sunday brunch. Chat GPT can work as a sounding board when we write by providing inspiration for and feedback from our texts. Chat GPT can also help in organising lessons and creating questions for exams (see examples from the list of links below) and act as a tireless study partner who can explain things we do not understand over and over again.

Chat GPT is a language machine which can generate finished text based on our requests and questions. The service can create questions for exams, pick up the main points from a text or answer students’ questions for us – similarly, it can also complete homework and write essays. This naturally stirs up debate on cheating. Going forward, how do we approach written assignments if we cannot be sure about who is the actual author?

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that Chat GPT is not a reference book or a database. It is a machine that answers our questions by creating new texts based on probabilities. So it is guessing which word would most likely come next. This means that we cannot fully rely on the answers given by Chat GPT, as it can come up with its own “facts”.  Big mistakes are easy to notice but small and subtle errors might appear in interpretations and tones of voice, years and source references. Using Chat GPT requires thorough source criticism. Also asking good questions is important. Previously, we have had to learn to form great search terms when we are searching for information online. Now, we have to learn to ask questions that are precise enough.

The introduction of this kind of language machine also raises other questions and concerns. For example, the technology makes it increasingly easy to automatically create fictitious content, risking an increase in disinformation and propaganda.  However, ChatGPT is not the only example of generative AI; various solutions are now available for automatically generating different types of content, including images, sound and source code. In turn, this has given rise to discussions about how we can learn to use these tools wisely – as humans, we are prone to laziness, and the temptation of having material served on a silver platter may become great. As the solutions are trained using existing data, there is also a risk that the results we obtain are not representative or may reflect prejudices and other biases present in the training data.

Chat GPT might be the first AI solution that really forces us to think what development can actually mean in the future. How can Chat GPT – and new services that will come up in the future – act as parts of a teacher’s toolkit? How can students use them? We need to take a stand on questions on didactics and subject didactics: what, how and why? Meanwhile, AI makes media literacy increasingly important, and requires us to be aware of any negative consequences so that we can tackle them in the best possible way.

Other links

Text: Linda Mannila

Image: Siru Tirronen

CC BY 4.0

The media landscape of children and young people is constantly changing and one phenomenon will be followed by another. It is essential to offer students tools to understand and process these phenomena. This learning module is part of the information and assignment material series Paths to new media phenomena. The material series includes the information texts and assignments for the teacher and the students. A meaningful way to get to know new phenomena is to use the How to cover new media literacy phenomena pedagogically? operational model, for example. 

Material for the teacher

  • Chat GPT is an AI-based service that gives answers to various questions. Linda Mannila explains how Chat GPT can be used and discusses its pros and cons. The video has English subtitles.

    Watch the video and think about the following questions:

    What should students know about Chat GPT and why?

    In what ways Chat GPT could be covered in teaching?

    Text: KAVI

  • Teachers do not need to be experts and skilled at everything. Having a good control over one’s own speciality and pedagogics and being curious and enthusiastic about learning new things provide a great starting point for tackling new media phenomena. Approach to processing new media literacy phenomena encourages you to use your own expertise and competence when working with various phenomena.

    Examine the model and consider the following questions:

    • Based on your experience, what challenges does discussing new media literacy phenomena entail?
    • What things support the discussing of new phenomena in your own work?
    • How would you utilise the model to discuss the phenomenon at hand?
  • Media literacy is a transversal competence, whose promotion is required by the core curriculum of basic education (2014).

    The objectives based on the core curriculum have been expressed separately for each school grade in the national descriptions of media literacy (the New Literacies development programme 2022). Basic education concerns the descriptions of good and advanced competences. The descriptions clarify the meaning of media literacy and the related objectives expressed in the core curriculum texts. The descriptions have been divided into three main areas: media interpretation and evaluation, media production and acting in media environments. You can learn more about the descriptions here.

    Consider the following questions:

    • How is the phenomenon under discussion structured in the media literacy competence descriptions?
    • What kind of media literacy skills do the pupils learn in connection with discussing the topic?
  • You can refer to the materials of KAVI and the New Literacies development programme for support in the promotion of media literacy.

    Media Literacy School (mediataitokoulu.fi) The Media Literacy School website brings together various learning resources and materials for the media education purposes of different age groups also in English.

    The page Media Literacy School – New Literacies brings together a range of materials that were created within the development programme to support the media education of basic education. The materials produced in the programme can be found on the open learning materials website at AOE.fi.

Material for the pupil

    • Chat GPT was launched in November 2022, and it conquered the world in no time. The service got 100 million users in two months, whereas for TikTok, this took nine months.
    • Chat GPT is developed by the organisation OpenAI, and it is based on artificial intelligence (AI).
    • Chat GPT is based on a language model that has “learned” natural language from a vast amount of online texts.
    • Chat GPT can answer to various questions and requests involving different subject matter. You can, for example, ask Chat GPT for help in organising a text, to explain a concept you do not understand, or to give feedback from your text as you write.
    • Chat GPT is not a reference book or a database. It structures its answer based on what it has learned about language based on already existing texts. Sometimes Chat GPT is successful, but it can also come up with its own “facts”. Source criticism is needed, and you must not just trust the answers.
    • Chat GPT is an example of a generative AI solution. This means that it creates (generates) new material according to users’ requests, for example. There are similar solutions for other types of material, such as Dall-E and Midjourney which generate images.

    Text: Linda Mannila

  • Assignments (alone, in pairs or in small groups)

    Task 1:

    Because the answers generated by Chat GPT might not be true, you need to be source critical. What kinds of tips would you give for reviewing the accuracy of Chat GPT’s answer?

    Task 2:

    Chat GPT can answer different kinds of questions on a variety of topics. Can you come up with ways to use this language machine? Do you have a hobby or an interest in which Chat GPT could help?

    Text: Linda Mannila

  • 1. Try out Chat GPT with your teacher by asking about a current phenomenon or a subject you are currently covering at school (the teacher selects the theme).

    2. Examine the results:

    • How well did Chat GPT answer the questions?
    • Did the answers seem sensible?
    • Can you find errors in Chat GPT’s answers? What kinds of errors?

    3. Discuss the following questions in small groups and then share your thoughts with the rest of the class.

    • How do you think ChatGPT can help you learn? Provide examples.
    • What disadvantages do you believe ChatGPT can have for schoolwork? Provide examples.

    Text: Linda Mannila

    • What is happening in the image?
    • What pros and cons of using Chat GPT can you find from the image?


    Text: KAVI

    Image: Siru Tirronen