ChatGPT, the AI language module, has stirred up questions and thoughts from the education community and beyond. When I talk about AI I often gravitate towards the media literacy angle. What are the sources? Is it citing facts? Could it be used to spread misinformation?
I decided to put ChatGPT to the test to create a blog post—on a topic I co-wrote a book on. Last year my book with 2 talented school librarians, Advocating Digital Citizenship: Resources for the Library and Classroom. I regularly present, talk and write on the topic of digital citizenship and librarians. Librarianship is my first career and I continue to work with libraries as a consultant. To put it simply: I’m an expert on the topic.
But could ChatGPT outclass the expert?
I asked ChatGPT: Write me a 300-500 word blog post about how school and public libraries can encourage digital citizenship?
ChatGPT starts off pretty strong in my opinion:
Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology and online resources. With the growing prevalence of technology in our daily lives, it’s more important than ever for schools and public libraries to encourage digital citizenship among their students and patrons.
I definitely agree that “it’s more important than ever for schools and public libraries to encourage digital citizenship.” I also appreciated that ChatGPT could differentiate between the two audiences in libraries, students and patrons.
ChatGPT continues with a list. Good job ChatGPT, people definitely love lists.
Here are some ways that schools and public libraries can promote digital citizenship:
1. Provide resources on digital citizenship. Both schools and public libraries can provide access to resources on digital citizenship. This can include books, articles, and websites that provide information on how to use technology responsibly. By making these resources available, schools and libraries can help individuals become informed about the importance of digital citizenship.
Meh. I mean I agree on providing resources, that’s what libraries do But there’s absolutely no specifics. B-
2. Offer workshops and training Another way that schools and public libraries can promote digital citizenship is by offering workshops and training on the topic. These workshops can cover topics such as online safety, privacy, and etiquette. By providing training on digital citizenship, individuals can learn how to use technology in a responsible and ethical manner.
OK. Workshops are a word, but in the library world it’s more likely to use the words “programs.” But if you aren’t in the industry, you may not know that so that makes sense. Yet again the word responsible. I mean, I like the word, I did name my company Digital Respons-Ability which is a play on the word “responsibility” but 162 words in ChatGPT has used a variation of responsible three times. Doesn’t ChatGPT have access to a thesaurus?
3. Model good behavior Schools and libraries can also model good behavior when it comes to digital citizenship. This can include having clear policies on internet usage and enforcing them consistently. Staff members can also model good behavior by using technology responsibly and respecting others’ privacy online.
The word “good” gets to a larger issue with AI. How can AI ethically evaluate information? What morals/values/standards does it use? Many agencies, companies and governments are discussing and researching this issue. I’m curious how ChatGPT defines what is “good” or “bad” digital behavior because I’m not getting much here.
4. Encourage collaboration. Collaboration is an important aspect of digital citizenship. Schools and libraries can encourage collaboration by providing opportunities for students and patrons to work together on digital projects. This can include collaborative writing projects, digital storytelling, and multimedia presentations. By working together, individuals can learn how to communicate effectively and respectfully online.
Yet again with using the same word over and over, in this case it’s “collaboration.” I did appreciate the message though. Digital citizenship is an active practice and subject and collaboration is very important.
5. Foster critical thinking skills. Finally, schools and libraries can foster critical thinking skills as part of promoting digital citizenship. This can involve teaching individuals how to evaluate information online and distinguish between credible and unreliable sources. By fostering critical thinking skills, individuals can become more informed and responsible users of technology.
I’m glad to have the shout out on critical thinking skills and mentioning media literacy through evaluating information.
In conclusion, schools and public libraries have an important role to play in promoting digital citizenship. By providing resources, offering workshops, modeling good behavior, encouraging collaboration, and fostering critical thinking skills, schools and libraries can help individuals use technology in a responsible and ethical manner. This, in turn, can help create a more positive and productive online community.
ChatGPT did do what I ask. I find it more interesting what it left out than what it included. Like looking at digital citizenship through a wider lens, referencing any learning standards, or just the lack of concrete actions or specifics. Still, a solid B- that gets to the point. This blog post could be a scaffold and an outline for a student to build from.
I didn’t find any misinformation in this, but I also didn’t find much information. I was curious what sources did ChatGPT reference. Was it referring to an article I wrote? Or my book?
No idea. ChatGPT won’t tell. When I asked for its references, it deflected and said:
The information provided in my response is in line with widely accepted principles and best practices for promoting digital citizenship in schools and public libraries.
I have no idea what “widely accepted principles and best practices” it’s citing. Or how it defines that. ChatGPT seems very confident in its response. Its answers reminded me of the Dunning Kruger psychological effect, where people who only have a little bit of information are overconfident in their abilities. But the thing is ChatGPT has a TON of information. And yes, I gave it a word limit and constrained it, but to me it shows that the quantity of information does not mean it’s quality information.