OpenAI, a technology company, launched ChatGPT, one of the most advanced iterations of its AI-driven large language model for text generation, in November 2022. Within five days of its launch, the model attracted one million users and reached 100 million in just three months, marking an unprecedented rate of adoption in the technology sector. ChatGPT has captivated global interest since its initial launch, with coverage in prominent publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nature, Wired, and more. This San Francisco-based organization, also known as OpenAI, was founded, among others, by Silicon Valley tech tycoons Elon Musk (who resigned from the Board of Directors in 2018), LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, former Stripe Chief Technology Officer Greg Brockman, and Y Combinatory founder Sam Altman.
ChatGPT has proven to be a valuable resource in various fields such as poetry, essay writing, business correspondence, research, software development, and testing. However, it has also been perceived as threatening content creation roles for writers, academicians, and content creators. While some see it as a helpful technological tool, others, like the New York City Department of Education, have blocked it, fearing it could disrupt education as we know it.
In his research, Arianna Prothero found that when he asked the teachers in the event that "ChatGPT will probably have legitimate educational uses we cannot ignore," 59 percent of educators agreed. Another example is that a teacher in Utah reported in Education Week that "teacher burnout and teacher retention are such huge problems in the United States.” And further, the teacher acknowledged that if the technology is saving 2 to 3 hours, which could be used to spend time with their families, it is worth using as the workload of the teachers is enormous.
Conversely, if we examine its drawbacks, the tool may diminish a student's critical thinking ability since it provides necessary content effortlessly in mere seconds. The optimal solution is to consider it an empowerment tool rather than solely relying on it to develop our critical thinking abilities.
In education, conversational AI-powered tools are already being used to provide language learning and translation assistance, as well as personalized learning experiences. In the future, it's likely that these tools will become even more sophisticated, enabling them to provide more personalized and effective learning experiences for students of all ages and abilities.
The findings I found in a study on technology awareness and current trends among students in Dimapur are alarming. For instance, many Naga students quickly adopted K-Pop music and fashion, with the trend going viral in Nagaland within just a few months. The concern is that the student's investment in these areas may not be beneficial for their future career prospects. I undertook a brief investigation of the level of awareness of ChatGPT among college and university students in Dimapur. The results revealed that 60.6% of the respondents had not heard of the tool. Furthermore, of those who had heard of it, 91% had never used it. These findings suggest a significant lack of technological literacy and awareness among the student population.
The students' daily engagement with the platform does not appear to align with the skills and knowledge necessary for future success. One example is students neglecting internship opportunities when technology now allows for remote internships to be undertaken from home. Internships, whether remote or in-person, allow students to study and grow outside of the classroom. Over the years, we have seen more colleges in Nagaland focusing on internships, with examples like Tetso College providing opportunities for its students outside and also offering internships within the college itself.
It is important for students to realize that internships are not only available through colleges or nearby businesses. After analyzing students' engagement with various platforms, such as Instagram, for several months, it is concerning to note that Naga students appear to be more active on Instagram than on LinkedIn, and I also found that over 50+ LinkedIn accounts for their level of engagement, networking, and presence, it is apparent that many students are not on the platform at all. Those who do have a presence on LinkedIn often have accounts that were created years ago with no connections. When observing Naga students' profiles, whether in selfie mode or with masks and fancy designs, I am concerned that they may not fully understand the power of LinkedIn and how it differs from other social media platforms.
LinkedIn is widely recognized as one of the most popular and trusted platforms for internships, jobs, and building connections with recruiters. However, it appears that many Naga students are still primarily using Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Having 500 connections on LinkedIn can be more valuable than having 1,000 followers on Instagram or Facebook.
Internships can be found beyond college and at nearby businesses. Naga students are more active on Instagram than on LinkedIn, with many having little presence or connections on the latter. Many seems to not understand LinkedIn's power for job connections and networking, relying on other social media platforms. LinkedIn is widely recognized as a trusted platform for internships and building connections with recruiters. Having 500 LinkedIn connections can be more valuable than having 1,000 Instagram or Facebook followers.
The Naga community is slow to embrace new technology, with even parents believing it causes problems. However, technology is unavoidable, as seen with virtual meeting apps during the pandemic. Halting progress isn't an option, so the solution is to adopt and use technology ethically and responsibly.
ChatGPT is everywhere and colleges must improve students' tech literacy. Events like fests should cover current topics instead of repeating older ones like gender equality. While important, it's vital to keep up with trends. To sum up, technological tools such as ChatGPT will continue to emerge and evolve, and there will always be newer and more advanced models in the future. We should welcome and utilize these tools to enhance our knowledge and skills, while also being mindful and responsible in their usage. There is no need to shy away from technology, but rather we should embrace it and its potential benefits.
The Degree of Thought Column is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. The column explored contemporary social, cultural, political, and educational issues and challenges around us. However, the views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC-accredited, UCG-recognized Commerce and Arts college. Currently, the Degree of Thought Column is managed by the department of Mass Communication, and the editorial team are Dr Jenny Lalmuanpuii, KC Gabriela and Rinsit Sareo. For feedback or comments, please email: [email protected].