Ethical use of ChatGPT and artificial intelligence-based tools in the field of education

image: Generative AI models like ChatGPT have several potential applications in the field of education. Although these AI models could prove beneficial for both teachers and students, it is important to properly understand their advantages and disadvantages to ensure their effective and ethical use. A new study has now proposed a theoretical framework for guiding the use of AI in education, using the example of ChatGPT, and provided a summary of the potential benefits and challenges of integrating AI technology into educational practices.
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Credit: Weipeng Yang from the Education University of Hong Kong

With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), several aspects of our lives have become more efficient and easier to navigate. One of the latest AI-based technologies is a user-friendly chatbot—ChatGPT, which is growing in popularity owing to its many applications, including in the field of education. ChatGPT uses algorithms to generate text similar to that generated by a human, within seconds. With its correct and responsible use, it could be used to answer questions, source information, write essays, summarize documents, compose codes, and much more. By extension, ChatGPT could transform education drastically, by creating virtual tutors, providing personalized learning, and enhancing AI literacy among teachers and students. However, ChatGPT or any AI-based technology capable of creating content in education, must be approached with caution.

Recently, a research team including Dr. Weipeng Yang, Assistant Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong, and Ms. Jiahong Su from the University of Hong Kong, proposed a theoretical framework known as ‘IDEE’ for guiding AI use in education (also referred to as ‘educative AI’). In their study, which was published in the ECNU Review of Education on April 19, 2023, the team also identified the benefits and challenges of using educative AI and provided recommendations for future educative AI research and policies. Dr. Yang remarks, “We developed the IDEE framework to guide the integration of generative artificial intelligence into educational activities. Our practical examples show how educative Al can be used to improve teaching and learning processes.”

The IDEE framework for educative AI includes a four-step process. ‘I’ stands for identifying the desired outcomes and objectives, ‘D’ stands for determining the appropriate level of automation, the first ‘E’ stands for ensuring that ethical considerations are met, and the second ‘E’ stands for evaluating the effectiveness of the application. For instance, the researchers tested the IDEE framework for using ChatGPT as a virtual coach for early childhood teachers by providing quick responses to teachers during classroom observations.

They found that ChatGPT can provide a more personalized and interactive learning experience for students that is tailored to their individual needs. It can also improve teaching models, assessment systems, and make education more enjoyable. Furthermore, it can help save teachers’ time and energy by providing answers to students’ questions, encourage teachers to reflect more on educational content, and provide useful teaching suggestions.

Notably, mainstream ChatGPT use for educational purposes raises many concerns including issues of costs, ethics, and safety. Real-world applications of ChatGPT require significant investments with respect to hardware, software, maintenance, and support, which may not be affordable for many educational institutions. In fact, the unregulated use of ChatGPT could lead students to access inaccurate or dangerous information. ChatGPT could also be wrongfully used to collect sensitive information about students without their knowledge or consent. Unfortunately, AI models are only as good as the data used to train them. Hence, low quality data that is not representative of all student cohorts can generate erroneous, unreliable, and discriminatory AI responses.

Since ChatGPT and other educative AI are still emerging technologies, understanding their effectiveness in education warrants further research. Accordingly, the researchers offer recommendations for future opportunities related to educative AI. There is a dire need for more contextual research on using AI under different educational settings. Secondly, there should be an in-depth exploration of the ethical and social implications of educative AI. Thirdly, the integration of AI into educational practices must involve teachers who are regularly trained in the use of generative AI. Finally, there should be polices and regulations for monitoring the use of educative AI to ensure responsible, unbiased, and equal technological access for all students.

Dr. Yang muses, “While we acknowledge the benefits of educative AI, we also recognize the limitations and existing gaps in this field. We hope that our framework can stimulate more interest and empirical research to fill these gaps and promote widespread application of Al in education.”

We are confident that this study will serve as a key foundation to the ethical and appropriate use of ChatGPT for education.






Authors: Jiahong Su1 and Weipeng Yang2


1The University of Hong Kong

2The Education University of Hong Kong



About ECNU Review of Education

The ECNU Review of Education is an international peer-reviewed open access journal, established by the East China Normal University (eponymous ECNU). The journal publishes research in the field of education, with a focus on interdisciplinary perspectives and contextual sensitivity. It seeks to provide a platform for the pedagogical community to network, promote dialogue, advance knowledge, synthesize ideas, and contribute to meaningful change.


About Dr. Weipeng Yang

Dr. Weipeng Yang is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Early Childhood Education, Education University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on early childhood curriculum and pedagogy, with specialised interests in STEM education, technology integration, socio-emotional wellbeing, and culture. He holds multiple editorial positions: Editor at Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Associate Editor at Journal for the Study of Education and Development, and Convenor of Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy SIG at British Educational Research Association, among others.

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