In this series of blog posts, we will explore five ways in which you can use Chat GPT to revolutionise your classroom. Part 1 explained how to create more personalised learning experiences and part 2 discussed how to use Chat GPT as a virtual teaching assistant. In part 3, we explored how teachers can take advantage of AI’s language and communication skills, and now in part 4, we will examine possibilities for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning using Chat GPT.

In these blog posts, I will include screenshots of Chat GPT responses as well as usable prompts for teachers. Keep in mind, as Chat GPT is continuously updated, responses to these prompts may vary in content or format. Also, the version of Chat GPT used in these blog posts is the free version, not GPT-4, in order to make these methods more accessible to all teachers.

4. Collaboration and peer-to-peer learning

Chat GPT facilitates collaboration and peer-to-peer learning by creating virtual discussion forums. Teachers can set up group discussions where students interact with Chat GPT as well as with each other. Students can ask questions, share ideas, and engage in meaningful conversations. Chat GPT can moderate and guide these discussions, ensuring that all participants have equal opportunities to contribute. This virtual collaboration platform breaks down barriers and encourages active participation from all students, including those who may be less inclined to speak up in traditional classroom settings.

Whereas we saw how Chat GPT can create prompts and guide conversations in language classes in the previous blog post, I was curious as to how it could “moderate and guide” discussions, as well as how it could be more inclusive of pupils who are less likely to speak out in class. First, I asked it to demonstrate what it described in the paragraph above. The screenshot below is its answer, shortened a little for easier reading.

The generated output was a great setup, but there are a few issues arising from the text-based nature and parameters of Chat GPT itself. At the moment, only one person at a time can converse with Chat GPT, which means that if a virtual discussion forum were to be implemented, it would take class time for students to input their discussion points or arguments into a single system (or for the teacher to input for them). That time spent typing is time ripe for distraction. Any hope that Chat GPT for functioning as a moderator requires input, and therefore many of its self-proclaimed capabilities are hampered by the realities of the classroom. I asked Chat GPT how it could “practically manage to support moderation and participation” and it returned a list of points.

Useful Chat GPT prompts for peer-to-peer collaboration

So what can Chat GPT successfully do to further pupil collaboration? For one, it is excellent at generating prompts for discussion. I asked it to do just that – “generate a prompt for student discussion” – and it responded:

One issue that particularly troubled me was asking Chat GPT to play moderator and wait for input. Instead, despite various prompts telling it not to, it generated the entire discussion, including made up responses from hypothetical students. Without setting the stage for discussion in the first place, which was proving problematic, none of the activities Chat GPT described above could be accomplished.

From here, I simulated three student responses and was quite pleased with the feedback.

Even if not every student were to input their responses into Chat GPT, a class activity could be created from these prompts. Discussion groups could be formed to aggregate responses, or the pupil responses could be summarised by the teacher and then entered into Chat GPT, which would then impart feedback and encourage further discussion.

I attempted this with a short paragraph simulating a summarised class response to Chat GPT’s follow-up questions. It read: “Class response: Most of the class agreed that there are ways to achieve the right balance when integrating technology into the classroom. This can be done through a mixture of appropriate class rules and a significant but cautious investment by the school into proven educational technologies. Additionally, the class said that teachers should be trained to use this technology effectively.” I received this output.

The ideas brought up in the class summary were expanded upon and this may be very rewarding for individual students if they see their points come up in Chat GPT’s response. However, it is lengthy feedback and either reading this aloud or having pupils read it may lose some of them along the way. Seeing as there aren’t too many case studies on which to base the effectiveness of using Chat GPT in the classroom yet, using these features may be hit-or-miss experimentation. Teachers should know their class, be ready to adapt their teaching, and approach Chat GPT with what I would call knowledgeable caution.

The debate

One area where Chat GPT excelled was debate. Whereas a virtual discussion forum proved difficult for Chat GPT to moderate, the debate, which has a formalised structure, was not. I used this prompt, but anything similar would do: “Act as a debate moderator. First, assign opposing sides of a debate prompt to blue team and red team.”

With that out of the way, I asked it about the structure of the debate, and it provided a detailed answer.

Then I typed in “Ok, thank you. We will start the debate now. Who goes first?” and it launched into moderation mode, asking the blue team to start with opening statements, and continuing to moderate throughout the entire debate. In this instance, I provided it the statements, and it gave very brief feedback on each before asking for the next team’s arguments. At the end of the debate, I also asked the AI to serve as a judge, and to my surprise, it called the debate a tie. I’m still unsure whether that was a fair assessment of the arguments, or simply an inclusive judgement. The upside of this activity: it was a very well-structured and perfectly moderated debate that would absolutely work in the classroom. The downside: it took a very long time to type those statements into Chat GPT.

To test an alternative for the classroom, I asked Chat GPT if we could “try running a less formal debate where I play one side and you play the other side to debate me”. It obliged, leaving the door open for individual students to have debates with Chat GPT, given that they have the devices and access to do so.

Conclusion on Chat GPT fostering collaboration and peer-to-peer learning

For a large language model that operates via a single user entering prompts, it could be expected that it might be difficult to use Chat GPT to galvanise student collaboration and peer-to-peer learning. There was certainly a disconnect between what it claimed it can do and what its capabilities actually are. I also find it difficult to envision a classroom in which students are fully engaged and on task if left to work with Chat GPT individually. These current problems may be resolved in the future, but for now, the use of Chat GPT in the classroom for collaborative activities remains limited.

That is not to say it is useless, though. Chat GPT is quite creative in both prompt generation and feedback. It also has the promise of encouraging participation from pupils less inclined to speak up in traditional classroom settings. It can moderate formal debates and also serve as an eloquent debate partner or judge. Just like most classroom activities involving Chat GPT, these will require teacher supervision, but there is potential to use AI to create captivating activities for pupils.

Any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to send me an email me at Luke.Kemper@haringeyeducationpartnership.co.uk

About the Author:

Luke Kemper

Luke Kemper is Insight and Intelligence Lead at HEP. He recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development. Before that, he worked for seven years as a university lecturer and high school teacher in China and Poland.

HEP Talks Podcast

The voice of Haringey Education Partnership. A weekly briefing on the latest stories in education news, deep diving into developments and interviews with leading voices in Education.

More Insights