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Teachers adjust to concerns over ChatGPT, a powerful new AI tool

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CNN

When Kristen Asplin heard about a powerful new AI chatbot tool called ChatGPT that went viral online recently with its ability to write freakishly good essays in seconds, she became concerned about how her students could use it to cheat.

Aspin, professor at the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, quickly joined a new Facebook group to teachers like her to exchange concerns and suggestions on how to restructure their lessons and assignments in response to ChatGPT. The tool, which launched in late November, can create detailed answers to simple prompts such as “Who was the 25th President of the United States?” as well as answers to more complex questions such as “What political developments led to the fall of the Roman Empire?”

Asplin finally decided to change its approach to written assignments. Instead of just focusing on the final product, which could potentially be spat out easily by ChatGPT, she now asks students to hand in their papers at various stages of the writing process.

“I emphasize and be more vigilant about the early stages of the writing process so I can see their progress,” Asplin said of her new approach to classroom assignments. “It will give students more confidence in the writing process so they are less likely to be desperate enough to cheat. It will also show me their work along the way so they can’t just type in a prompt in the program and have the computer do the work for them.

In the weeks that followed artificial intelligence research group OpenAI launched ChatGPT, which is trained on a wealth of online information to create its answers, the tool has been used to write articles (with more than a few factual inaccuracies) for at least one publication of news; wrote lyrics in the style of various artists (one of whom later replied, “this song sucks”) and wrote summaries of research papers that misled some scientists.

But while many may view the tool as a novelty with unknown long-term consequences, a growing number of schools and teachers are concerned about its immediate impact on students and their ability to cheat on homework. The Facebook group Asplin joined, for example, has added more than 800 members in just a few weeks since its inception.

Some educators are now moving with remarkable speed to rethink their homework in response to ChatGPT, though it remains unclear how widespread use of the tool is among students and how harmful it really could be. for learning. In interviews with CNN, some college professors said they return to class trials for the first time in years, and others require more personalized trials. Some teachers said they have also heard that students should film short videos that detail their thinking process. Public schools in New York and Seattle, meanwhile, have already banned students and teachers from using ChatGPT on district networks and devices.

While there was some anecdotes With cheating cases making the rounds of the internet and raising fears for more to come, some teachers are urging their peers not to overreact to new technology.

“There’s been a mass hysteria response to ChatGPT that might ruin the writing, while other people think that’s actually a good thing,” said Alan Reid, associate professor of English at Coastal Carolina University. “We have to try to straddle both sides and recognize the downsides alongside the upsides.”

In recent weeks, Kevin Pittle, an associate professor at Biola University in California, has found himself pondering what ChatGPT knows.

“Before assigning documents, I thoroughly query ChatGPT to see what it knows or doesn’t know about the material or has access to,” he said. With that in mind, he said he now requires his students to show citations from specific sources that are not available for ChatGPT, including textbooks, articles behind paywalls, and documents produced after ChatGPT was trained on internet data available from 2021.

And it doesn’t stop there.

“ChatGPT has no soul – its fictional reflections are usually quite lifeless – so in a course I require a lot more ‘introspection’ and reflective journaling than ChatGPT seems capable of simulating,” he said. -he declares.

OpenAI previously told CNN that it made ChatGPT available as a preview to learn from real-world usage. A spokesperson called this step “an essential part of developing and deploying capable and secure AI systems.”

“We do not want ChatGPT to be used for deceptive purposes in schools or elsewhere, so we are already developing mitigations to help anyone identify text generated by this system,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to working with educators on helpful solutions and other ways to help teachers and students benefit from artificial intelligence.”

Some companies such as Turnitin are already actively working on ChatGPT plagiarism detection tools that could help teachers identify when assignments are written by the tool. (Turnitin already works with 16,000 schools, publishers and companies with its other plagiarism detection tools). Princeton student Edward Tuan told CNN that more than 95,000 people have already tried the beta version of his own ChatGPT detection feature, called ZeroGPT, noting that so far there has been “incredible demand among teachers”.

The concern extends beyond the United States. Alex Steel, director of teaching strategy and professor of law at the University of New South Wales, said a number of universities across Australia have announced a return to closed-book exams.

“There’s a growing number of academics who are concerned that they can’t detect AI-written responses,” he told CNN. “Concerns are partly driven by a lack of understanding on the part of teachers about the type of questions likely to be susceptible … so staff may push for the return to exams until [these issues] Can be addressed.”

Not all teachers are looking for ways to crack down on ChatGPT. Reid, a professor at Coastal Carolina University, believes teachers should work with ChatGPT and teach best practices in the classroom.

Reid said teachers could encourage students to plug an assignment question into the tool and ask them to compare that result to what they personally wrote. “It could also allow students to see what they missed, analyze different approaches they might have taken, or use it as a starting point to help develop a plan,” Reid said.

He argued that there will always be ways for students to cheat online, so teaching them how ChatGPT can improve their own writing could be a handy step forward.

“The onus is on educators – and many don’t want to be police officers in the classroom,” he said. “The way to deal with this is for teachers to look at their own practices and think about how they can be used in a positive way. If they ignore this thing and know nothing about it, it leaves the door open for students to use it to cheat and get away with it.

The OpenAI ChatGPT website about page on a laptop laid out in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. on Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Leslie Layne, a professor of English and linguistics at Lynchburg University in Virginia, agrees. She now plans to teach students how ChatGPT could improve their writing.

“ChatGPT can give students a head start, so they don’t start with a blank page. But it’s far from a finished product,” she said. “We want students to include more sources of supply and evidence, so that can be used as something to build on.”

She compared ChatGPT to the outcry over calculators when they were first released. “People were very worried that we were losing the ability to do basic math,” she said. “Now we take one everywhere we go with our phones, and it’s so useful.”

Layne said teachers might consider asking students to critique how ChatGPT handled an assignment question, teaching students how to find the best prompt for the best answer, and having ChatGPT argue a side of a topic and a student argues on the other side.

“As with other new technologies, this could be a tool used by instructors to help students express their ideas,” she said. “Students just have to learn how to improve his writing and adapt it to their own voice.”

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