Is it cheating or is it not? GAI and Learning to Write as a Modern Student

It’s Taco Tuesday night, and the delightful aroma of sizzling seasoned beef fills the kitchen. Your children are gathered around the kitchen counter, you think they are engrossed in their nightly homework routine. At the edge of the counter sits your middle schooler’s neglected Chromebook while their head droops dramatically. You notice an open document titled “American Revolution Essay – My Original Declaration of Independence.” However, the screen remains tragically blank. Filling that empty page with sentences and paragraphs has spiraled into an overwhelming writing collapse. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, if you’ve witnessed your child struggle and become paralyzed by writing assignments to the point of despair, rest assured, you are not alone. Here’s the exciting part: The recent introduction of new writing technology has the potential to revolutionize how students learn and hone writing skills. Generative AI (GAI), an innovative tool that uses artificial intelligence to generate text, can alleviate the stress and demoralization of writing challenges. Initially introduced in 2014 and popularized by companies like OpenAI, GAI has led to the development of widely used applications such as ChatGPT. Using generative AI as a student means leveraging AI algorithms to assist in creating written content, including essays, narratives, and more. However, concerns about cheating have been raised by educators and regulators. Opponents often claim that GAI will “do students’ work for them” and that it promotes plagiarism. Challenging this misleading perspective and exploring ethical ways to incorporate AI technology into writing education is crucial. GAI has the potential to flip the script and equitably bridge learning and performance gaps within our student population. The future is here, and we must adapt and embrace it. GAI can help young writers feel more confident, successful, and prepared – the key is using the tool selectively with limited use. Here are a few reasons to explain why:

  1. GAI can enhance writing creativity and expression. GAI tools empower students to unlock their creative writing potential. These tools act as digital companions by providing alternative sentence structures, suggesting better word choices, inspiring new ideas, sparking imagination, and encouraging experimentation. Traditional writing constraints no longer bind students, freeing bandwidth and creative energy to explore new avenues of expression. This article explores how ASU students effectively used GAI in an advanced English course to their benefit.
  2. GAI increases writing efficiency and promotes time management. Writing assignments can be time-consuming, especially when students have multiple subjects to juggle. GAI tools enable them to streamline the writing process, saving precious time. These tools can generate drafts, outline ideas, and proofread. Students can focus on refining their work, polishing their arguments, and strengthening their writing skills efficiently.
  3. GAI helps students overcome language barriers. Writing can be immensely challenging for students learning English as a second language. GAI tools provide invaluable support by offering real-time translations, grammar suggestions, and vocabulary expansions. These features help bridge the language gap, ensuring all students have equal opportunities to excel in their writing assignments. Multilingual learners are constantly growing among our student population, and teachers must be equipped with tools to offer equitable access to learning goals for all students regardless of background.
  4. GAI develops digital citizenship and fosters academic integrity in students. While the benefits of GAI in writing are undeniable, teaching students how to use these tools ethically and responsibly is inherently educational. We must emphasize the importance of critical thinking, originality, and personal growth– yet, it is crucial to encourage students to leverage GAI while maintaining academic integrity and their unique voices. Lastly, when students practice using GAI and gain familiarity with the model, they develop the modern digital lens necessary for discerning between artificially generated and human-generated text. This Edutopia article outlines the implications of incorporating GAI into the classroom and the implications of ignoring it.

GAI can alleviate the frustrating meltdowns caused by writer’s block and empower students to overcome creative barriers. We can promote equity by expanding access to writing success for those who learn differently. Responsible usage and education regarding ethical implications, including intellectual property and plagiarism, are essential for nurturing a generation of confident, innovative, and ethically conscious writers who can succeed in the digital era. Experienced tutors can effectively assist students in utilizing this groundbreaking technology, and helping them navigate its powerful features and nuances. If you haven’t tried it yourself yet, we challenge you to send us a message using only GAI.

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