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ChatGPT goes to college


WORLD Radio - ChatGPT goes to college

Educators struggle to balance the opportunities and abuses of generative AI in the classroom

Smartphone with ChatGPT app and laptop. Wikimedia Commons/Photo by Jernej Furman

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Artificial intelligence and academic integrity.

There’s nothing new under the sun, including cheating in school and getting caught. But then last fall came a new technology that made it so much harder to catch cheaters.

ChatGPT is an AI program capable of creating compositions that seem human. It didn’t take long for students to start using it for homework and tests.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And now those seeking professional degrees have the same temptation. Back in March, OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT4, a version powerful enough to pass the bar exam and finish in the top 10 percent.

Sam Altman is OpenAI’s CEO. The audio from ABC News.

SAM ALTMAN: Education is going to have to change. But it's happened many other times with technology when we got the calculator, the way we taught math and what we tested students on that totally changed. The promise of this technology, one of the ones that I'm most excited about is the ability to provide individual learning

But what about academic integrity?

Joining us now to talk about that is Rob McDole. He’s an online education designer who currently leads the Center of Teaching and Learning at Cedarville University.

REICHARD: Rob, good morning.

ROB MCDOLE, GUEST: Good morning.

REICHARD: What were some previous challenges with maintaining academic integrity, and how does ChatGPT change things. What have you seen?

MCDOLE: Well, what I've seen in the past is students using websites to gain answers to quizzes or tests. And in some cases, they would actually use third party companies to write those papers for them. Now, it's become a little bit more advanced, students are not even using those companies anymore. They're using ChatGPT to write their papers, to get answers to quizzes and tests. And so that's upped the game. But it's become an educational Cold War, so to speak, between those who want to cheat, and those who are trying to capture it. So tools are coming out every day to detect these things. What we need to look at going forward is, Why are students cheating? And what do we need to be teaching them? And what discussions do we need to have in order to really move ourselves away from this issue of this Cold War, this war of I think, attrition where education just focuses on cheating so much, we're not really focused on the real goal, and that is transformed lives.

REICHARD: As you heard in that clip from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the inventors of this technology are optimistic about how it might provide individual learning to students. Do you agree with their assessment? (And why?)

MCDOLE: Yeah, yes, I do. You can provide a dataset of writing transcripts and notes from a teacher or a subject area. And you can create a chatbot for interaction so that if you're, you know, you have a student at 10:30pm who's studying for an exam, and they have some questions, they can ask the chat bot instead of having to fire off an email to the professor. And they can get instant feedback. One of the biggest issues and one of the things we know in education is that learning occurs when the moment of learning and testing and feedback are closely associated. So if a student has a question about a certain area or topic, and they they test themselves with, they're like, this is my idea, and they don't really get any feedback, whether that's on an assignment or quiz, the closer that feedback is to their question or their performance, it really makes a difference in their learning. So the same is true here. I think, AI that's just one way AI can really benefit individualized learning.

REICHARD: Given what you know, how would you advise colleges to deal with these AI tools?

MCDOLE: Well, I know that a lot of colleges may be thinking about just banning it wholesale. Don't think that's the way to go. Also, some may be thinking, well, we'll just open the doors and let it come in wholesale. Again, I don't think that's the way to go. I would advise them to one, understand what it is that they're dealing with. So if, you know, if you have administrators, you have leaders, even faculty who haven't used it, they need to use it, they need to test it out. And then they need to create sensible, well thought out and reasoned policies for their particular courses. But I wouldn't say no to Chat GPT, because I think it’s again, just an exercise in futility.

REICHARD: How does all this change your approach to teaching? If students know these tools exist, what kinds of academic virtues are you trying to cultivate to counter the seductive promises that AI has?

MCDOLE: That's a good question. Christian colleges and universities, especially have an opportunity to really go back to the basics and talk about a biblical worldview, and why we as believers learn in the first place, and why it's important for us to be stewards, and learners in God's general revelation.

REICHARD: Is the mainstream media missing any aspect of this story?

MCDOLE: We don't hear a lot about all the good things that it's doing. We hear a lot of the negatives, right. I am reminded of Halicin, I don't know if you're familiar with that drug or if you've even heard of it. But it was developed from an MIT experiment with AI, and it's a super antibiotic, and it kills all the superbugs. And it doesn't harm humans. And this was discovered purely by chance, or under God's sovereignty, as I'd like to say, through AI. And in a way that researchers heretofor weren't even looking. They didn't even have any research or literature pointing in the direction that this AI bot took to come up with this drug. But they verified it. And now they're in the stages of finding funding to bring it to market. So people don't need to die if they get some bad case of MRSA, or some other superbugs that our antibiotics can't deal with.

REICHARD: Rob McDole the Director for the Center of Teaching and Learning at Cedarville University. Thank you for joining us!

MCDOLE: Oh, it's been a pleasure.

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