Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

All the Kids Are Using It

Written by: on September 7, 2023

Last Saturday my husband and I were driving my college freshman back to his dorm after his first collegiate football game. Talking about classes starting soon I felt the need to impress upon him that college is not high school, that using AI, especially ChatGPT could get him into a lot of trouble. I told him that they now have programs that most universities run to check and see if their students used ChatGPT to write their papers.

I think that news knocked the wind out of him more than getting tackled on the football field.

I first discovered ChatGPT sometime last year when scrolling through TikTok a video of a high school teacher using AI in her classroom began rolling on my phone screen. This teacher, known by her TikTok handle, @gibsonishere, claimed she “a very good answer for how students can be allowed to use ChatGPT and how we as teachers can still see that they understand how to write essays and that they really get the content.”[1]She then goes on to detail how students can use ChatGPT in their essay writing but that by using a graphic organizer and other in class assignments, she can insure ChatGPT is simply one tool out of many a student uses to write her essay.

I was intrigued. Since this was the first time I was hearing about ChatGPT I was a little unnerved. Why hadn’t this been around for my high school and college years? What kind of problems will it bring to our current students? Will my own kids get by without ever having to write an essay or think on their own? Will this be the death of education? Will my kids be stupid because they have computers to do all their work? You can see I was clearly spiraling.

I asked my own son if he’d ever used ChatGPT for a paper. “Um, yeah, once or twice.” Which any parent knows really means, “All the time.”

But then I was impressed. This teacher realized ChatGPT and other AI is here to stay and educators can either use it as a tool in a student’s education or they can constantly try to fight a losing battle. She chose to get creative and teach her students to use it as a tool.

In the video, Assessment AI, David Boud mentions how when Excel first came on the scene it was thought to be “cheating” if students use it to do their calculations.[2] Now it is assumed we will all use Excel to do our calculations! Technology is constantly advancing and we would be ostriches with our heads buried in the sand if we didn’t figure out how to use it to further our own education and productivity.

In the video, ChatGPT and its impact on education, Michael Webb warns over and over again that the information on ChatGPT is often wrong.[3] In the video,  he tells us that often journals are simply made up! They sound like real journals but they are not. I found this when, as an experiement, I spent some time prompting ChatGPT to give me journal articles on mental health issues and religion. Quickly, ChatGPT shot journal titles and articles back at me. However, when I looked they up they did not exist. To be clear, I could not find one single journal that ChatGPT suggested. I quickly realized this AI tool would be limited in how it could aid in my research.

ChatGPT and AI are only getting better and perhaps (hopefully) more accurate as they evolve. Students, especially high school and college students, have moved through the threshold concept of learning AI, even as the rest of us are trying to catch up.[4] Academic institutions are going to have to figure out if they can be used to enhance a student’s education or if using them will simply be considered cheating. Yet, according to Lucinda McKnight, in her article, Eight Ways to Engage with AI Writers in Higher Education, “In higher education, worries about academic integrity have clouded exploration of the potentials of AI writing. Yet for people in many careers already, working effectively with AI writers is an essential part of their everyday responsibilities.[5]

I wonder if those in higher education are more worried about the use of AI because we haven’t figured out the questions: Can we still learn if a computer is doing the work for us? If so, what are we learning? What is important to learn? Is it facts and figures or is it how to find those facts and figures? Will creativity come to halt if we depend on AI to do our work? I’m sure there are many more questions to answer regarding this topic. These are just some that first popped into my head.

It’s a fascinating subject to ponder. In the meantime, I am going to hope and pray my son does not rely on ChatGPT to write his college papers while also hoping it will evolve to suggesting real journal articles before my time in this program is done!

[1] @gibsonishere, TikTok, Part 58 Let them use it all!

[2] David Boud, Assessment AI, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eMgz1LWSXLOeFrPcAMDf0z5KEwFVhAs7, accessed September 6, 2023.

[3] Michael Webb, ChatGPT and Its Impact on Edcuation, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eMgz1LWSXLOeFrPcAMDf0z5KEwFVhAs7, accessed September 6, 2023.

[4] Jan Meyer and Ray Land,  Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practicing within the disciplines (pp. 412-424). Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 2003.

[5] “Eight ways to engage with AI writers in higher education,” by Lucinda McKnight, see: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/eight-ways-engage-ai-writers-higher-education, accessed on August 25, 2023.


About the Author

Kally Elliott

Mom of four. Wanna-be Broadway star. PC(USA) pastor. Wife. Friend. Sometimes a hot mess. Sometimes somewhat together. Is this supposed to be a professional bio?

8 responses to “All the Kids Are Using It”

  1. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Kally,
    I was inspired after reading your post to ask my adult children and their spouses what they knew about ChatGPT and if they had ever used it. I had never heard of it until this week. I am so behind the times! We had a very thoughtful and active family conversation via What’s App last night (we are spread across the US and Asia). It is times like these I am truly grateful for the telecommunications advances we have made over the last 40 years! Several of my kids are in the education field so it was wonderful to hear their perspectives. In a nutshell, they were not big fans, but were aware of creating guidelines for ethical use and teaching students how to use it since it’s not going anywhere. I do wonder how AI will impact my grandchildren’s educational process. It’s still a bit overwhelming for me to wrap my head around.

    • Kally Elliott says:

      Jenny, it’s *very* overwhelming and it is easy for me as a student to claim the educators need to be creative in teaching students to use it as a tool. Honestly, if I was an educator (and as a mother who cares about her children’s education!) I don’t really have any answers, just a lot of questions.

  2. Hey Kally! Good thoughts centered around learning: “Can we still learn if a computer is doing the work for us? If so, what are we learning? What is important to learn?” In the next 10 years will we see more educated students but less learners. Unfortunately as most people rely upon the internet and google for their information, in the future, they will rely upon AI. So as you wrote, what will be important to learn? I guess I have more questions than answers and I guess we will have to wait to see.

    • Kally Elliott says:

      “More educated students but less learners…” Yes, I think you might be right about that. I wonder if we will lose our desire to struggle to learn – to do the work or if we will simply ask our computers. I mean, to some degree we are already doing that (or at least I am). “Hey Google, what is the answer to…” It’s much easier than wondering, thinking, reading, etc.

  3. Adam Harris says:

    I love how you pulled out the idea of how Excel was viewed as cheating at first, but is now the norm, just like calculators. Now they are required, we just teach students how to best utilize them both for better efficiency and accuracy. Seems to be the nature of progress. This is a technology we will have to adapt to, so great point!

    • Kally Elliott says:

      There is no getting around AI anymore. We will definitely have to adapt. I think we are in that difficult moment when we are faced with having to change and any of us who work in the church world know that change isn’t easy!

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    I love what you said here “Students, especially high school and college students, have moved through the threshold concept of learning AI, even as the rest of us are trying to catch up. I think this is going to be the rest of our lives, huh. Catching up to the fast pace of our world! Makes me feel old:)

  5. mm Russell Chun says:

    Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

    If we are teaching AI, is it okay to start teaching it Morality, Ethics of behavior – such as “Young AI, if you cannot reference it properly, don’t suggest it to gullible users.”

    I put up guardrails for my three teens and directed them in a path. Perhaps it is time to invest in the moral education of AI. I nominate Kally Elliot.

    Oh by the way, Falsely Accused or Caught Using ChatGPT? Here’s What To Do

    Academic integrity has been an important topic in the realm of AI tools like ChatGPT. Students have been getting accused of cheating based on metrics that aren’t definitive. If you’re accused, how should you go about it to prove your innocence?


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