AI IS Not Yet a Huge Help For Writing

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Jane Rosenzweig, the director of the Harvard College Writing Center, told recently that AI isn’t yet a huge help to writing students. She says there is “potential for AI in the future but is critical of many of its current classroom applications”.

Director Jane is reportedly teaching a course titled “To what problem is ChatGPT the solution?” as well as the focus of the course. She talked about it recently, and a few of her quotes are adopted below verbatim:

  • “I imagine there will be many wonderful uses for AI in the future and some tutoring interfaces will be created that will have great value.
  • “Given all we know about the limitations of generative AI that we have right now, it’s hard for me to see that the tutoring models that I’m seeing are actually solving a problem that has been identified.
  • On AI a reliable tutor? “Getting flashcard-type answers from digital animatronics is not how Rosenzweig wants her students to “interact with literature. But more important than her opinion on the tool is that she wants educators to think critically about this technology and its uses. ‘Maybe there’s a great answer for why I want my student to get their answers from Jay Gatsby instead of from a class discussion’.
  • On ChatGPT’s editing advice: “Sometimes the feedback wasn’t very good, and I knew that because I’m a writer and I teach writing. But if my students, or anyone’s students, were to go through that process, have they learned the things that they would need to know in order to assess that feedback? Proponents of AI might counter that her prompts weren’t good if she received poor feedback. ‘I’m not convinced that’s the case, but that raises the same question, right? How would our students know what kind of editing advice to ask for?’

Ultimately, educators should avoid using AI simply because it is there and should instead base its use on that question at the heart of her thinking about ChatGPT and AI: To what teaching problems is ChatGPT the solution?

“’What are our learning goals? And how do we want to get there?’ should be applied to thinking about these new technologies as carefully and thoughtfully as we make those decisions in other contexts. She adds that if you are using it in the classroom it should be because you have a pedagogical reason to do so and not because it is the “shiny new thing.”

– Jane Rosenzweig in Teach & Learning