Almost as quickly as ChatGPT exploded onto the scene, academics are finding positive new ways to use it

The International Baccalaureate (IB) will allow its students to quote from material produced by OpenAI’s artificial intelligence language tool ChatGPT.

Since being publicly released three months ago, ChatGPT has caused a stir because of its ability to generate text that appears “natural” – as if it were written by a human.

ChatGPT is powered by a large language model (LLM) algorithm. This type of deep learning can take vast amounts of data and recognise, summarise, translate, predict and generate content such as text. ChatGPT does this after being “trained” by programmers to respond and interact “conversationally” as a human would.

This has prompted many to raise concerns that the tool could undermine academic integrity because of the potential for it to be used by school and university students to produce essays and other assignments which would, in effect, be plagiarised.

But it has also led many to ask how ChatGPT could be used to improve education and if the concerns raise more fundamental questions about the nature of education and assessments themselves.

Read more: Chatbot blunders reveal the limitations of this confounding new technology

IB head of assessment principles and practice, Matt Glanville, told the UK Times that ChatGPT represented “an extraordinary opportunity” and that it should be embraced.

According to its website, the IB provides education to more than one million students globally.

Glanville added, however, that the chatbot would have to be treated like any other source in a student’s work.

“The clear line between using ChatGPT and providing original work is exactly the same as using ideas taken from other people or the internet. As with any quote or material adapted from another source, it must be credited in the body of the text and appropriately referenced in the bibliography,” he said.

Glanville believes that the entrance of language tools like ChatGPT will force us to consider alternative means of assessment.

“When AI can essentially write an essay at the touch of a button, we need our pupils to master different skills, such as understanding if the essay is any good or if it has missed context, has used biased data or if it is lacking in creativity. These will be far more important skills than writing an essay, so the assessment tasks we set will need to reflect this.”

University of Guelph, Canada, philosophy researchers Dylan J White and Assistant Professor Joshua August Skorburg (OpenAI does fund Skorburg) say in an article on the Conversation that AI will kill the student essay is not the case.

They agree that chatbots will, in fact, help students develop critical thinking because the AI tools simply cannot make judgements. It cannot determine, like a human student can, what is good writing, or creative, or beneficial.

Read more: ChatGPT banned in some schools, but many experts say it can improve education

In another Conversation piece, University of Sydney experts in education innovation and writing underline that ChatGPT should be used to develop new ways of teaching and that it can save educators time and effort.

They suggest that AI chatbots can save time preparing lessons and resources, can be useful in giving students ideas as they prepare assignments as well as helping students living with disabilities and learning difficulties, and challenge us to assess students less on the production of essays and more on their ability to give a perspective or relate issues to their experiences.

Please login to favourite this article.