From Socrates to ChatGPT: Reactions to New Technology in Academia

Panel 1: AI-Powered Tools: Students’ & Instructors’ Perceptions

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Based on this analysis, we will then offer strategies for the implementation of ChatGPT into our learning environments. 

We argue that some of the anxieties articulated last winter around ChatGPT fit into a pattern of responses to new technology that began in Greek antiquity with Socrates’ skepticism towards literacy. Socrates believed that writing and reading is undermining the educational project. It would weaken the students' minds and promote unruly behavior.

We will then show that technological innovations in recent decades facilitate the writing process (word processors, spelling checkers), communication across languages (user-generated online dictionaries, machine translation apps), and research tasks (crowd-sourced online knowledge repositories such as Wikipedia) have initially been met with great skepticism before they become less uncontroversial educational technologies.

Perhaps the most insightful case study of the integration of new technology into the educational discourse in the context of mathematics education. It took close to 20 years for the pocket calculator to transform from a disruptive technology to an uncontroversial element in the classroom – but this process coincided with a rethinking of education objectives among mathematics instructors and their professional organization.

Based on our analysis of the integration of new technologies we will suggest concrete strategies that intend to guide the systematic integration the ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies in language and humanities classrooms.