The rise of ChatGPT, and its impact on Kenyan learners

The rise of ChatGPT, and its impact on Kenyan learners

ChatGPT logo is seen in this illustration taken, February 3, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Esther Kitengele

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that provides quick, well formulated answers to a variety of questions. The impact of this tool on education and research has grabbed the attention of Kenyans, hence the need to keep students and staff informed about its use in various institutions.

The program’s language model has the ability to generate human-like texts, and has shown remarkable results in tasks such as language translation and summarization. It’s no wonder that educators and students are exploring the potential of ChatGPT in classrooms.

Students from various universities stated that in some situations they are allowed to use the program, and that sometimes they’re advised not to rely on it fully as it may not entirely incorporate them while learning.

“Our lecturers know that some of us use ChatGPT, it is useful and at the same time can make one lazy; try your level best to use it effectively,” Samantha Githinji, a university student, told Citizen Digital.

Another student, Lewis Kimani, was enlightened about ChatGPT by a friend who uses it majorly on online academic and article writing.

“Since I learnt about the program, I haven’t been struggling so much when doing my assignments as I just pose a question to it and it brings an outline of what I need,” he said.

“It does not give room for students to think for themselves, our lecturers do not approve of it, I would not recommend the program for someone in school, but in situations where students look for a means to earn something extra like article writing, I would recommend it to be used.”

ChatGPT has brought a storm of hype and fright to the education system in Kenya. The question is, how can schools thrive in this climate of fear?

Robi Koki, a lecturer at the United States International University - Africa (USIU-A) stated that the emergence of technology into the Kenyan education system should be embraced as it is the way to go in the near future.

“With online learning and integration of e-learning, we have been advised to integrate technology to support learning tools in the class. In USIU-Africa we’re embracing the blended approach where we have sessions that are face-to-face and others that are online; the undergraduates prefer face-to-face engagement while the others prefer the approach where some days we are together and others we are online,” said Ms Koki.

Some parents claim that such programs will give rise to laziness and, over time, make students lose the ability to think out of the box and generate original ideas. In other words, they said, overdependence on such programs as ChatGPT will only transform students into couch potatoes.

“As a parent, I do not advocate for our children in schools to continue or embrace the program as they will not be able to carry out their assignments by themselves and improve on their studies, such programs are prompting our children to become slothful when undertaking their class work,” added Ms. Koki.

In as much as ChatGPT provides instant feedback for students and improves their writing skills, most educators advocate that such programs should not replace a teacher’s lesson.

They claim that it can serve as a practice tool for teachers to use in the classroom and a way to switch it up, hence providing something new to the students.

According to research, OpensAI’s wildly popular chatbot ChatGPT is expected to sweep up about 4.8 million jobs in the United States.

It is already popular in areas such as customer service, jobs done by translators and interpreters, technical writers, copywriters, and data entry clerks.

The AI chatbot could see itself entering fields such as Data Science, Machine Learning, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Robotics, Automation, and Business.

Generative AI and advances in artificial intelligence may result in even more powerful digital minds that no one, not even their creators, can understand, predict or reliably control.

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ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence

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