Educators exploring how ChatGPT or Artificial Intelligence can be used in education setting: Chan Chun Sing

However, cheating of all forms will not be tolerated.

Ruth Chai | February 06, 2023, 04:50 PM

The use of ChatGPT was discussed in Parliament on Feb. 6, with several questions posed to the Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing.

Chan was asked about how the Ministry of Education (MOE) would respond to the use of ChatGPT to cheat during tests, and what measures would be put in place to detect plagiarism.

It was also asked if MOE intends to harness the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance learning while ensuring that students do not misuse it.

AI presents both opportunities and challenges

Chan said that the use of AI presents both opportunities and challenges to Singapore's educational landscape, and will only become more pervasive over time.

Chan assured that MOE would provide educators with sufficient guidance and resources to effectively harness such technologies to enhance learning.

"There are also professional discussion groups amongst out educators to explore its use in the educational setting," Chan added.

At the same time, Chan assured that educators would still focus on teaching students fundamental concepts and guide students against developing an over reliance on technological tools.

Using the example of a calculator, Chan shared that the use of a calculator supports a student's capacity for learning mathematics, but does not replace the need for students to first master basic mathematical operations.

Likewise, ChatGPT can be a useful tool for learning only after students mastered basic concepts and developed thinking skills.

"We must also teach our students to embrace and learn to work with tools in the new normal that have a range of outcomes beyond a deterministic outcome like a calculator. This will extend to AI tools that will increase in pervasiveness and may not provide only deterministic answers." 

Important for students to exercise discretion and apply critical thinking

He emphasised the importance of students to exercise discretion and critical thinking in order to identify biases.

Chan said that schools have begun to implement measures to guard against the harmful range of technology.

"Students are taught the importance of integrity and the harmful impact and consequence of plagiarism."

"In addition, teachers use multiple modes of assessment to gauge students' proficiency and detect uncharacteristic responses that could be AI generated content."

Chan cited the use of "technological tools" to detect content generated by AI technology.

Finally, Chan said that skills taught in schools such as self-directed and collaborative learning, inventive thinking, relationship management and cross cultural skills are not easily replaced by technological tools, and are instead acquired through leadership roles, interdisciplinary projects and experiential learning.

Chan described these skills as imperative to living in a new world, helping students to better navigate work and adulthood.

Ending on a humorous quip, Chan said that his speech was not written by ChatGPT.

MP for Jalan Besar GRC Wan Rizal corroborated Chan's point, saying that after using ChatGPT and testing it against essay questions, he understood the importance of teaching students the importance of using AI related tools.

He encouraged MOE to consider having courses that would encourage people to utilise and explore the use of AI related tools for the work in the future.

Chan replied that plans are in place to harness the potential of such technologies in order to improve the education system.

However, he also mentioned that a modern world presents modern challenges, and a new skill set is required to solve questions holistically.

"Our value added today is not about trying to answer yesterday's problems with yesterday's answer. Our value added is how to create tomorrow's solutions for tomorrow's challenges ahead of time," Chan explained.

Cheating is not tolerated in any form

Member of Parliament representing Sembawang GRC Lim Wee Kiak asked if the policy governing the use of AI in relation to cheating is clear across all schools and students.

Chan said that cheating could take a conventional form, or new forms enabled by technology. Regardless, all forms of cheating are not tolerated in any of Singapore's educational institutions.

Chan emphasised the importance of understanding a developing a complex thought process behind answers.

The learning process is not about coming out with an answer to submit, but what is more important is the process of deriving it, Chan explained.

If tools can be used to derive better answers, Chan encouraged students to consider with integrity where the information comes from.

Top photo from Ministry of Communication and Information