AI Writing Tools for Students: What You Need to Know About Jasper AI, ChatGPT, and More

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January 10, 2023

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Unlock this lesson to learn what you need to know about AI writing tools for students:

In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

  1. What are AI writing tools and how do students use them?
  2. What limitations do AI writing tools have?
  3. What parents and teachers need to know about AI writing tools
  4. Examples of AI writing tools in the news
  5. How to determine if AI writing tools were used for student homework

This AI writing tools guide will help parents learn: 

  • The most popular AI writing tools currently available
  • Creative ways students are using AI writing tools in an ethical way
  • How to use AI writing tools to have fun with your student

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Table of Contents

AI writing tools

AI writing tools such as Jasper AI and ChatGPT are rapidly gaining popularity, especially among students. It is important for parents and teachers to understand the capabilities AI (Artificial Intelligence) has as well as the potential to be abused in a school setting.

AI writing software has positive benefits for users when used in an appropriate way, and that only continues to grow as the technology improves.

This SmartSocial.com guide explains:

  1. What is an AI writing tool and how do students use them?
  2. What limitations do AI writing tools have?
  3. What parents and teachers need to know about AI writing tools
  4. Examples of AI writing tools in the news
  5. How to determine if an AI writing tool has been used for student homework

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Parent and educator video lesson

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

What you’ll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What are AI writing tools?
  2. How students use AI writing tools
  3. AI writing apps in the news
  4. What can parents & educators do?

What are AI writing tools and how do students use them? 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing tools are software programs that are able to generate written content using information pulled from online sources or provided directly in the tool 
  • This content is not taken directly from other sources on the internet so it is original  writing, however, it does not include new ideas or personality within the text as authentic human writing would 
  • Because AI content writing tools use natural language processing (NLP) students are able to give instructions to the AI the same way they would explain them to a friend, such as “write a paragraph about the water cycle” and it will produce unique text using the information it has learned from search engines. The AI content generator will then come back with AI writing in just a few seconds
  • There is some skill involved in using an AI writing tool. In order to write content that is accurate and high-quality text, users can feed it information before generating content and utilize outlines to help the AI writing tool to stay on topic
  • An AI writing tool can be used to brainstorm writing ideas, create content, write articles, and edit existing writing 
  • ChatGPT is one of the larger AI writing software tools in this category and has been compared as an alternative to Google due to its ability to respond to questions faster than search engines (Source: yahoo! Finance
  • Some teens use AI tools to create funny stories, write jokes, social media posts, or play games- like this 20 question example from ChatGPT:

What limitations do AI writing tools have?

  • Writing done by AI writing assistants lacks personality 
  • ChatGPT is currently only accurate for information through 2021, which means students will not be able to use this writing tool to write material about current events 
  • AI writing needs to be fact-checked as it is not always accurate since many sources on the internet are not factual
  • Using AI without proper fact-checking creates the potential to spread misinformation (Source: yahoo! finance)
  • AI writing software tools do not always create organized writing or high quality content. They are sometimes repetitive and stray from the original idea, so any work created using an AI writing assistant needs to be edited 

Examples of AI writing tools and ratings

The number of AI writing tools available to students is continually growing. Many offer a free version as well as paid options. Some examples of current AI tools are: 

What do parents and teachers need to know about AI writing tools?

  • These AI writing tools are popular with students for both entertainment and academic tasks and with writing/marketing professionals as well
  • Students may try to use AI writing tools to cheat on school essays and papers. Since the writing is unique content it can be difficult for anti-plagiarism tools to detect whether an AI writing assistant has been used   
  • Teachers and parents can start to recognize artificial intelligence-generated text with  some common red flags
  • The best AI writing still needs a human touch. Teach students not to rely only on AI writing assistants to create high quality content, instead demonstrate ways they can use them as part of the writing process

How to determine if AI writing tools were used for student homework

  • Can the student accurately respond to questions about their work?
  • If the student has used an AI powered writing assistant their  writing style may have dramatically changed
  • Does the writing lack the emotion and personality you would expect from that student?
  • Does any of the wording sound awkward, have a peculiar placement, or is something that the student would generally not say in their everyday speech? This may suggest they have used AI writing software
  • AI writing may appear to be written in a more professional format than student papers typically are written
  • Teachers can run student writing through an OpenAI detector, although this is not always accurate (Source: Hugging Face OpenAI Detector)

Examples of AI writing tools in the news 

Can ChatGPT really challenge Google? Well, it's complicated
While we’re excited by what ChatGPT can provide, we realize there’s still a problem – it doesn't know the difference between truth and falsehood…It can and will just make up a story on the spot. You should think of ChatGPT as an idea generator. It's amazing at getting you going in all kinds of different directions, especially in art and poetry. - Yahoo! news
Can Anti-plagiarism tools detect when AI chatbots write student essays?
Can plagiarism-detection tools catch these AI creations? It turns out that the makers of TurnItIn, one of the most widely used plagiarism detection tools, aren’t breaking a sweat. ‘We’re very confident that—for the current generation of AI writing generation systems—detection is possible,’ says Eric Wang, vice president of AI for the company. - EdSurge
At UCLA, professors see 'exciting opportunities' in AI writing tools
Along with dissecting the platform’s limitations, Snelson also sees using ChatGPT as a tool to propel students’ writing even further. For example, one of the hardest parts about writing an essay is the first line. Having an AI write it for you can be a great starting point to push past the ‘blank page dilemma,’ he said. - dot.LA

What can parents and educators do?

  • Try one of the AI apps or websites for yourself and ask your student to show you how it works. Many artificial intelligence tools have a free version you can try out. Consider making an AI writing project together, such as using it to create social media posts or write blog posts, and talk about the results to help them see the benefits of brainstorming and the downsides of using AI for their writing
  • Telling students they can never use AI writing software or apps usually pushes them towards using it in secret. Work with your students to understand the appropriate uses for AI writing tools
  • Continue to talk to students about fact-checking and vital skills of media literacy as part of their formal education and life training instead of relying on AI writing software
  • Educators can set classroom and homework expectations of using AI writing tools and have an open dialogue with students if they suspect a student’s submission is not their own writing

Conclusion 

AI writing software tools are becoming more sophisticated all the time and students are finding many creative uses for them. There are ethical issues that arise about using AI writing tools for schoolwork and in other inappropriate ways. It is important that parents and teachers are aware of the tools that are currently available and have ongoing conversations with their students about ways to appropriately use AI writing at school and at home. 

Additional Resources

Listen to MomTalk podcast and hear Beth and Rachel discuss AI writing tools


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