ChatGPT in higher education… or the fear of a revolution in the making

Such AI applications are creating new challenges that could well turn into opportunities if another intelligence – the collective one – grasps them!

Anthony Hié | April 6, 2023


#Technology   #EdTech   #AI   #ChatGPT   #Education  
(Image: Ashish Asthana/GN)
(Image: Ashish Asthana/GN)

If the strong reactions in the field of education are anything to go by, ChatGPT, the conversational Artificial Intelligence chatbot, is creating shockwaves and debates in schools around the world.

So should it be banned or thoughtfully embraced?

Artificial Intelligence, a revolution for education?
The use of AI in education is growing steadily. As far back as 2008, a company called Knewton was using machine learning techniques to create adaptive learning systems. Today, the contributions of AI to teaching are a reality: analysis of learning data (Learning Analytics), detection of difficulties encountered by students, and customisation of courses. Through the feedback provided by AI systems, students can gain a better understanding of their weak points and subsequently improve their results.

ChatGPT, an opportunity to question assessment methods
ChatGPT, this conversational AI chatbot, is disrupting our conventional teaching assessment methods. It touches a nerve! In fact, a trial performed on a standard MBA core exam from the prestigious Pennsylvania business school, Wharton School, showed that this AI tool was able to pass the degree. This is proof that exams based on summative assessments, which are intended to measure student learning, can easily be manipulated by this AI. This ‘cheating’ calls into question the reliability of results of assessments and the way in which they are conducted. Furthermore, without human intervention, AI cannot be used to reliably measure the acquisition of Soft Skills, which is at the very heart of the management school educational model. It is therefore high time we rethought our assessment methods, otherwise our education system will become obsolete. An opportunity to exploit the AI/human complementarity raises the following question: What share of decision-making should we entrust to machines?

Reinventing the pedagogical model by choosing the appropriate role for AI
The widespread use of AI is consistent with the course of history, whether we like it or not. The temptation to ban it from classrooms is a bad idea. Banning ChatGPT would send a negative signal about the ability of our schools to adapt and to innovate pedagogically. Therefore, fostering awareness of its limitations, and ensuring that it is used responsibly and ethically, is a necessity. It is very important to remember that AI is a tool which, like any other tool, can be used for positive or negative purposes. It is up to humans to decide where it fits in. It is crucial to ensure that it is used for a beneficial transformation of the educational model. On the one hand, it cannot take the place of teachers. On the other hand, it can assist them and effectively complement existing educational systems. However, it must be said that tools such as ChatGPT are one step ahead of higher education practices. They produce, for example, complete articles that are neither factually nor legally plagiaristic and therefore undetectable to plagiarism.

AI forcing an inevitable metamorphosis in education
AI is currently changing many aspects of everyday life and will continue to make impact on education. The recent accessibility of these tools to students accentuates the fact that schools can no longer be the only place where knowledge is disseminated and that their role must be broadened. Today, knowledge is accessible in great abundance. Schools need to be the place where one learns to harness available knowledge but also, unquestionably, how to use innovations in a responsible and ethical way.

AI applications, such as ChatGPT, are therefore creating new challenges that could well turn into opportunities if another intelligence, namely the collective intelligence, grasps them!

Anthony Hié is Chief Digital Officer of Excelia Group, a leading educational institution in France.

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