The FundéuRAE (Fundación del Español Urgente) awarded the title of word of the year 2022 to the expression “artificial intelligence”. In an entry published on its website at the end of last December, the Foundation explained that the selection of this concept was due to its great presence in the media and social debate during the last twelve months, both provoked by ” the diverse advances developed in this area and the derived ethical consequences”.
In this sense, the appearance of chatbots has assumed a great advance in the field of Artificial Intelligence and is already having consequences in the field of education.
Chatbots to do class homework. According to The Guardian, some Australian universities have detected that certain students are using chatbots to carry out their class work, such as essays or even exams. Conversational bots are software applications that use Artificial Intelligence to produce automatic responses, and can be used to provide 24-hour customer service, for example. Sin embargo, it seems that some Australian university students are using it to get ahead of the curve.
Review of evaluation methods. The British newspaper reports that the eight main Australian universities, associated in the so-called Group of Eight (Grupo de las Ocho in Spanish), have been forced to modify their evaluation methods. According to Dr. Matthew Brown, principal representative of the group, the universities have had to review “how the evaluations will be carried out in 2023”, many of which will opt for traditional formulas such as “a greater use of exams and tests a paper and pen”.
The universities seek to anticipate. Brown indicates that universities have spent time addressing the use of Artificial Intelligence through the training of students and professors, as well as the use of specific detection strategies for texts generated by chatbots. Additionally, he points out that the redesign of the evaluation is key and that it supposes “continuous work for our universities, while we seek to advance the development of artificial intelligence”.
New York bans ChatGPT in colleges. In November 2022, the company OpenAI, (founded, among others, by Elon Musk in 2015), launched ChatGPT, a chatbot capable of processing brief user requirements and responding through long texts. The potential of this program, capable of summarizing work meetings, is such that, to avoid misuse by students, the New York Department of Education decided to prohibit access to this chatbot on all devices used in schools and public institutions of the city, as reported recently by The Wall Street Journal.
Great accuracy in the answers. The key to the success of these programs is the speed with which they produce automatic responses and the accuracy of them. Recently, Paul Taylor, professor of health informatics (‘Health Informatics’ in English) at the University College of London, published an article in the London Review of Books where he explained what the Chatbot’s responses had been to certain questions that the teacher had included in some exams. Taylor affirmed that artificial intelligence was capable of responding in a “coherent, complete and focused way, something that students sometimes do not achieve”.
The plagiarism detectors, sobrepasados. The professor added that the plagiarism checkers are not useful, since the ChatGPT algorithm “responds in a different way to each interaction, so the students will not get the same response that they received”. Finally, Taylor concludes that in the future it will be necessary to establish new types of exams or to reunite the students in a room with internet access so that they can take the tests.
Correct use is positive. On the other hand, chatbots can be a useful tool at an educational level, if used in the correct way. Elementary education professor Stewart Brown published last week a tweet where he affirmed that ChatGPT could reduce the workload of the teachers, and as an example he posted a video in which the chatbot was writing the instructions for a class exercise based on the guidelines provided by the teacher.
Act immediately and with discretion. Toby Walsh, professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales, stated in statements to The Guardian that the universities are currently in an “arms race” against the chatbots and that they are not going to win. However, he recognized the potential of these programs at an educational level.
Therefore, the problem does not reside in the conversational bots but in the use that is made of them. Integrating these technological advances into the educational systems and teaching the professors and their students about their operation and how they should be employed will be key to achieving a correct utilization of these programs.
Image: Unsplash / Dom Fou
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