AI in my classroom by Dr Zeenath Reza Khan
Friday, 03 February, 2023
January 2023 began for a lot of us in academia with our social media pages bombarded with news and posts on Microsoft’s bid to invest on ChatGPT, an artificially intelligent text generating tool from OpenAI. While we have had some sensational headlines come across from schools wanting to ban it completely, to professors wanting to go back to ‘pen and paper’ days, most of us have taken a step back to really assess the opportunities and threats here.
AI in education is nothing new.
We have been enjoying creating personalized learning environments for our students for a while now. Learning analytics have helped leaps and bounds in providing insights into student learning experiences, behaviours and how best we can cater to their learning styles. AI has helped us make learning more accessible, with fantastical tools that easily convert text to voice and vise versa, allowing all students ways to integrate, engage and interact with their classmates, teachers and the subject content. This list is endless.
So why all the worry now?
ChaptGPT itself was launched in 2022, so even the tool is not brand new. Based on the third-generation Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT3), it is a neural network machine learning model that has been trained using a rather large data set to produce “answers” in a conversational way, depending on how the user asks a question.
But, there is a concern that text generated through such tools will still be somewhat original, but not student’s own work, hence would not be flagged by existing text-matching software. This does raise some concerns because while plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and submitting as your own without giving acknowledgement and contract cheating is having a third party doing the work that is then submitted as your own, a block of text generated by a tool such as ChatGPT isn’t necessarily plagiarized, nor is it a ‘third party’ work.
While this is the premise for concern, the opportunity associated with such a tool is also many-folds and brings focus back to assessment design aligned with learning outcomes. There is real opportunity here to understand how this tool can benefit student learning, enhance their knowledge and most importantly how this is going to play out as a future-ready skill since it is being used in workplaces.
Most of us are not jumping the wagon to the panic-side. We are:
- Monitoring development and evolution of the tools and their uses
- Reviewing policies to take into consideration how we want to deal with AI generated content, be it text, image, video, music or anything else
- Raising awareness among students and staff on what these tools are actually capable of
- Rethinking assessments to better equip students while upholding integrity
- Supporting our staff and students with open conversations about the tools and headlines to manage perceptions and expectations
- Continuing focus on our core values of integrity to remain at the heart of everything we do on campus
What are you doing about AI in your classroom?
Dr Zeenath Reza Khan
Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences
University of Wollongong in Dubai