Role of AI in Special Education: Can ChatGPT Be a Game-Changer?

Role of AI in Special Education

There has been much talk recently about the potential of AI technology to assist in special education. Students with special needs usually require adjustments to teaching methods and materials to give them equal access to education. This may be due to learning difficulties and/or physical or intellectual disabilities. 

AI is already assisting special needs students through personalised learning experiences. It allows students to overcome their challenges by analysing their strengths and weaknesses and tailoring learning to their needs. ChatGPT has the potential to take this even further. 

Below we look at the ways ChatGPT is being used in special education.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a natural language-based processing tool that allows users to ask questions. It incorporates the word ‘chat’ because its focus is on conversational applications. The technology is driven by AI and it is trained on a vast amount of text data, enabling it to give human-like responses.

Users interact by providing text prompts on any subject and the ChatGPT generates a response based on its training data. It can assist with a wide range of academic tasks including research, ideas generation, reviewing concepts and even proofreading and editing. 

How Can ChatGPT Help Special Needs Students?

In Australia, special needs students are integrated into mainstream classrooms whenever possible. While this is great in theory, students often lack the support they need to reach their full potential. 

ChatGPT can assist by providing immediate feedback and responses. It can also generate concrete examples, clarify concepts and provide practice problems, allowing students to learn more independently. It can offer sensory-processing support by providing sensory-friendly activities and advice on how to avoid being overwhelmed.

Students who struggle to keep up with the flow of information in class also have much to gain from this technology. It allows them to learn at their own pace and conduct research on topics of interest to them. 

ChatGPT has assistive features that are highly beneficial for special needs students. These include dictation and text-to-speech software. It can also be integrated into existing tools to help with reading and comprehension. The predictive feature finishes words and sentences, assisting those who struggle with writing. 

In addition to all these benefits, ChatGPT can also assist with social skills by giving student practice at interacting without judgement. It provides a conversational partner that allows them to have structured conversations, and this is very helpful for many special needs students. It can even be programmed to provide positive reinforcement.

Are there Limitations to this Technology?

Educational psychologist Massrat Shaikh believes ChatGPT may cause students with exceptional needs to become too dependent on the model’s responses, discouraging the development of critical thinking. This is a valid concern as deep understanding is a crucial factor in learning. 

Due to the immediacy of its interactions, ChatGPT responses can lack depth and context. As it is completely dependent on training data, it may reproduce biases and misinformation. Because it does not have the ability to verify information it can sometimes give inappropriate responses. 

One of the greatest drawbacks to ChatGPT is its lack of emotional intelligence which is essential in educational settings. It cannot give empathy or adapt in real-time to a student’s emotional needs in the same way a teacher or tutor can.

How Can a Tutor Help?

At Tutor Doctor, we are making the most of ChatGPT’s best features by using it to enhance our customer experience. Our tutors are using AI to create and adapt lesson plans to meet our students’ individual needs more effectively. 

While we embrace innovation, we also recognise that the relationship between a tutor and a student can never be replicated by technology. This uniquely human bond plays a crucial role in inspiring students to achieve their best. 

Our tutors equip students with the higher-order skills to critically evaluate information and think independently. We recognise that education is about developing the whole student.

Contact us for a free consultation.