The artificial intelligence (AI) conversation has been dominated by ChatGPT. After being released last fall, it has become the poster child for all things AI. Some of this attention is warranted. The ChatGPT interface makes it easy for the everyday user to provide a prompt and get immediate responses. The tool also stores every response so folks can go back to some response that was generated days or weeks ago. Factoring in the media attention the tool has received, it’s not really surprising that millions of people have signed up to use ChatGPT over the last six months. In fact, ChatGPT acquired 1 million users just 5 days after launching in November 2022. By comparison, it took Instagram approximately 2.5 months to reach 1 million downloads. Netflix had to wait around 3.5 years to reach 1 million users.
But ChatGPT isn’t the only game in town. There are other tools that educators should know about. Here are a few that I found interesting.
Elicit: Elicit labels itself as an “AI research assistant.” Designed primarily for students and researchers in academic settings, the tool allows users to ask targeted research questions. Based on the research questions, Elicit mines research databases and finds eight relevant research articles based on the question. Besides providing links to the articles, Elicit summarizes the articles and provides a critique of the methodology. Users can also filter for specific methodologies (randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, ethnographies, etc.) and can use filters and starring together to find papers that were cited in systematic reviews. Users can also save their starred results so they can review them later. People can also download a CSV or .bib file to import into reference managers like Zotero. Elicit is currently free to use, but I suspect it will eventually add a subscription tier.
Otter.ai: Otter.ai is a one stop location for all things transcription related. Attending a virtual meeting? Otter.ai can record and transcribe the meeting and summarize the important points. Interviewing someone? Otter.ai can take imported audio files and create a transcript of the discussion. It will also generate word clouds and summarize the discussion. Using an iOS or Android device? Otter is available on smartphone and web-based platforms. While different subscription tiers are available, Otter offers a free tier where users can get 300 monthly transcription minutes with no more than 30 minutes per conversation.
QuillBot: This one blows my mind. Technically it’s not AI-based, but if you’re worried about plagiarism in your classroom, you should know about this tool. QuillBot allows users to insert text and the tool will paraphrase or summarize the passage automatically. You can also have it translate passages or check for plagiarized sections. The free version allows up to 120 words in pasted text, but the pay version a lot more functionality and features. With the pay version, users can paste longer passages, control the voice and creativity of the paraphraser. There’s also Chrome and Word extensions available.
Bard: Bard is Google’s AI chat bot. It’s currently in beta and available by invitation only, but my initial experiments with the tool were impressive. While it functions similar to ChatGPT, the tools are a little different. They use different AI models and were “trained” differently. Bard is trained on a vast text and code dataset that includes the most recent news, research, and information. ChatGPT was trained on a text and code dataset collected up to 2021. This means that Bard is more likely to have up-to-date information and can provide more accurate answers to your inquiries.