Let us dive into the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in higher education and one of its most recent advancements, ChatGPT. Created by OpenAI and released on November 30th, 2022, ChatGPT has quickly become the talk of tech (Perlman, 2023). There are differing opinions on ChatGPT’s impact on higher education. Some fear it will completely dismantle traditional education as we know it, while others believe it has the potential to revolutionize and improve learning outcomes. However, I am here to offer a more balanced perspective and urge against both panic and blind faith in this new technology.
OpenAI is attracting significant attention from tech giants like Microsoft, which is investing up to $10 billion in the company. The potential applications of ChatGPT are numerous, from improving search engines like Bing to enhancing products in the Microsoft Office suite (Verma, P. 2022). As we explore the evolving landscape of AI in higher education, it is exciting to witness the rapid advancements and groundbreaking developments that are unfolding before us.
Simply put, ChatGPT is a conversational bot that can respond to user queries by searching large databases and generating well-crafted and human like essays, legal briefs, poetry, computer code, and even song lyrics (Pasek & Blinkoff, 2023). However, it’s important to zoom out and understand that ChatGPT is just one part of a rapidly evolving AI landscape that we all contribute to on a daily basis. Think about it, how many times have each of us said, “Alexa, what’s the weather?’ Or ‘Hey, Siri where’s the closest Trader Joes?” Or how many times have we relied on Netflix's recommendations to choose our next movie? We are all active participants in this technological evolution.
So, what does AI mean for higher education? The answer remains a bit elusive, but one thing is certain: ChatGPT is just the beginning. As AI continues to evolve, we can expect it to shape our lives in unprecedented ways, including how we learn, teach, and navigate the world.
What I want to caution against is the hyper focus on ways to mitigate ChatGPT and the like on college campuses. For example, an Ivy League student has built an app to detect whether text is written by ChatGPT (Bowman, 2023). This type of ingenuity is awesome but, in some ways, futile. In other words, those who want to misuse AI to cheat can do so with or without AI. There are sites like Chegg, which has become synonymous with cheating. Many students use the term “Chegging” when they describe turning to homework-help sites to copy down answers instead of doing work themselves (Young, 2021). While it is understandable to want to find quick-fix solutions to academic dishonesty, the reality is that there is no panacea. Instead, we need to take a comprehensive approach that involves not only technological solutions but also educational and cultural interventions. How can we instill a sense of ethics and integrity in students? What role can institutions play in creating a learning environment that authentically prioritizes learning over grades? How can we move away from static term papers and toward experiential learning and project-based learning?
The COVID-19 pandemic has already demonstrated that universities can deliver education in new and innovative ways, leveraging technology to make learning more accessible and flexible. However, to fully realize the potential of these tools, we need to shift our mindset from resistance to change to a willingness to explore new possibilities and experiment with new technologies. Let us not be like Blockbuster and resist the inevitable change that is already happening around us. Instead, let’s be proactive and embrace the opportunities that technology can provide to revolutionize higher education for the better. Let’s begin to ask, why, what if, and how could we?
Remember, college graduates today are predicated to have 17 different jobs across 5 different industries during their lifetime (Palmer, 2020). The key to their success will be the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout their career. This means what we teach, and how we teach must change. And the tools we use for this group of students cannot be static but forward thinking to prepare them for jobs that do not exist and problems yet to be identified. Now, I am not talking about blind embrace of AI but rather a strategic adoption of AI technology. Colleges have committees for most everything, and we can surely add one for AI integration, right? Will some jobs be lost, probably. But will new opportunities be created, absolutely. It is important to understand that the intent of AI is not here to replace but rather enhance our experience as administrators and the experiences of faculty and students that is more personalized and efficient.
So here are how some colleges are thinking about ChatGPT and AI:
Boston University: Professor Wesley Wildman’s Data, Society and Ethics (CDS DS 380) class spent the last few weeks writing a blueprint for academic use of ChatGPT and similar artificial intelligence models, called the Generative AI Assistance (GAIA) Policy. They intend to follow it and hope it will be a starting point as the University moves to deal with ChatGPT in the classroom. (Brown & Ricciardi, 2023).
Colorado State University: The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) has developed a new website called Artificial Intelligence and Academic Integrity. Academic Integrity Program Director Joseph Brown and TILT staff developed it to provide faculty with short-term strategies for ChatGPT, as they continue to monitor the availability of technology-based solutions already in development. The website also includes information about how content created by an AI engine and submitted for credit is covered by the CSU Student Conduct Code (Manning, 2023).
Columbia University: “We cannot put the genie back in the bottle. ChatGPT is an opportunity to engage more of our teachers, more of our educators in understanding the power and potential of technology,” says TC’s Ellen B. Meier, Professor of Computing and Educational Practice. “Tools such as ChatGPT can present teachers with new pedagogical opportunities to move away from transmission teaching and begin to design more active, culturally relevant learning environments. They challenge us to think creatively about the very process of education” (Gilbrand, M. 2023).
University of California, Riverside: Morris Maduro, professor of biology says, ‘for the short term, departments and instructors need to evaluate how problematic ChatGPT is for achieving learning outcomes in their classes. If students can avoid real learning and get high grades on homework assignments by using it, instructors will need to either make assessments “ChatGPT-proof” or find ways to incorporate ChatGPT in helping students to build new skills. It will be impractical to try to ban or prevent the use of ChatGPT. AI tools are here to stay. They will improve and become increasingly important across disciplines. In the long run, departments may therefore need to re-evaluate their teaching mission, and ask themselves, if a chatbot can do most of what a college graduate can do, then what is the value of a degree (Pittawala,I. 2023)?
University of Pennsylvania: Ethan Mollick, Associate Professor at the Wharton School is not only allowing his students to use ChatGPT, but they are also required to use it. And he has formally adopted an A.I. policy into his syllabus for the first time. He readily admits he alternates between enthusiasm and anxiety about how artificial intelligence can change assessments in the classroom, but he believes educators need to move with the times. "We taught people how to do math in a world with calculators," he said. Now the challenge is for educators to teach students how the world has changed again, and how they can adapt to that (Wood & Kelly, 2023).
University of Rochester: Jonathan Herington, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, used ChatGPT as part of an assignment this semester. He asked students to cowrite an essay with the chatbot on a question that would challenge the technology’s capabilities, such as citations from obscure texts or knowledge of readings published after 2020. “I then had the students reflect upon the process of cowriting: what worked, what was harder, whether they would use this in the future,” Herington says. “I think it is important for students to explore the capacities and limits of these models. They are not magic. They do some things very well, but lots of higher-level tasks—the ones we care about in upper-level philosophy—are beyond them” (Mandelaro, 2023).
Villanova University: Dr. Randy Weinstein, the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning says “there is no University-wide ban on ChatGPT as there could be many excellent uses for it in classes, if faculty allow its use, and it is properly cited with its output critically analyzed. The issues really arise when you claim ChatGPT as your own work” (McFarlane, L. 2023).
To ensure that AI and ChatGPT are integrated responsibly onto campus, administrators need to act. To that end, here are ten practical steps they can take to ensure the ethical and effective use of these technologies in their institutions:
- Uncover the full potential of ChatGPT by creating an account and trying it out yourself by using different prompts and discovering its capabilities.
- Give your IT infrastructure a performance review to ensure it’s ready for AI.
- Put the power of AI to work for your college by creating a strategic plan to implement its cutting-edge technology and boost productivity.
- Don’t be afraid to call in the AI gurus - sometimes you need outside help.
- Get the inside scoop from your students on how they use ChatGPT and navigate the AI landscape. Think focus groups or surveys.
- Prepare your faculty to be the masters of AI education by investing in their training and professional development. Do a bit of myth busting and educating.
- AI can help college administrators make data-driven decisions by diving deep into student performance, enrollment trends, and other key metrics.
- Collaborate with other colleges not just for research papers - come together to share ChatGPT and AI tips and tricks collaborating to push the boundaries of AI innovation.
- Be a trendsetter and encourage as well as reward using new technology. Create a team of AI enthusiasts from across campus to share ideas, collaborate, and push the boundaries of innovation.
- Create an ecosystem of technology by integrating AI with other tools and platforms in your college.
Remember, it’s crucial for colleges to recognize that the future is now and that ChatGPT and AI is not just a passing trend. By embracing AI, colleges can streamline processes, reduce costs, and provide better educational experiences for their students. As the competition for students and resources continues to increase, those who are slow to adopt AI will be at a disadvantage. So, don’t let fear hold you back from exploring the potential of AI in your college’s operations. This is particularly true for Student Affairs professionals who have a critical role in shaping the campus experience for students. By embracing AI, Student Affairs professionals can use data-driven insights to personalize and improve the support they provide to students. And with the ability to automate routine tasks, Student Affairs professionals can focus on higher-value activities, such as engaging with students, developing more innovative programs, and fostering a positive campus culture. So, take the first step by identifying areas where AI can be implemented and begin developing a plan to integrate this powerful technology. Remember, the future is already here, and those who embrace it will be the ones leading the way in higher education.
(Bowman, 2023). A college student created an app that can tell whether AI wrote an essay. https://www.npr.org/2023/01/09/1147549845/gptzero-ai-chatgpt-edward-tian-plagiarism
(Brown & Ricciardi, 2023). Why ChatGPT Is Both Exciting and Unsettling for Students, Faculty
(Gilbrand, M. 2023). Navigating the Risks and Rewards of ChatGPT. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2023/january/navigating-the-risks-and-rewards-of-chatgpt/
(Mandelaro, 2023). How will AI chatbots like ChatGPT affect higher education? https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/chatgpt-artificial-intelligence-ai-chatbots-education-551522/
(Manning, 2023). How can engineering education embrace ChatGPT? By treating it like a tool. https://engr.source.colostate.edu/how-can-engineering-education-embrace-chatgpt-by-treating-it-like-a-tool/
(McFarlane, L. 2023). University Members React to ChatGPT on Campus. https://villanovan.com/22175/news/university-members-react-to-chatgpt-on-campus/
(Palmer, B. 2020). Why Adopting an Agile Learning Mindset is Crucial for Your Career. https://www.pcma.org/heather-mcgowan-agile-learning-mindset-job-skills/
Perlman, A. (2023). The Implications of ChatGPT for Legal Services and Society. https://clp.law.harvard.edu/knowledge-hub/magazine/issues/generative-ai-in-the-legal-profession/the-implications-of-chatgpt-for-legal-services-and-society/
(Pittawala,I. 2023). Is ChatGPT a threat to education? https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2023/01/24/chatgpt-threat-education
(Verma,P. 2022). hat to know about OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/02/06/what-is-openai-chatgpt/
(Wood & Kelly, 2023).'Everybody is cheating': Why this teacher has adopted an open ChatGPT policy. https://www.npr.org/2023/01/26/1151499213/chatgpt-ai-education-cheating-classroom-wharton-school
(Young, 2021). More Students Are Using Chegg to Cheat. Is the Company Doing Enough to Stop It? https://www.edsurge.com/news/2021-02-23-more-students-are-using-chegg-to-cheat-is-the-company-doing-enough-to-stop-it