Why this teacher has adopted an open ChatGPT policy : NPR

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Not all educators are afraid of artificial intelligence in the classroom.

Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images


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Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

Not all educators are afraid of artificial intelligence in the classroom.

Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

Ethan Mollick has a message for humans and machines: can’t we all get along?

After all, we are now officially in an AI world and we will have to share it, reasons the associate professor at the prestigious Wharton school of the University of Pennsylvania.

“That was a sudden change, wasn’t it? There are a lot of good things that we’re going to have to do differently, but I think we can solve the problems of how to teach people to write in a world with ChatGPT,” said Mollick. NPR.

Since the ChatGPT chatbot was launched in November, educators have raised concerns that it could facilitate cheating.

Some school districts have banned bot access, and not without reason. The artificial intelligence tool from the OpenAI company can compose poetry. Can write computer code. He might even pass an MBA exam.

A Wharton professor recently gave the chatbot the final exam questions for a major MBA course and found that, despite some surprising math errors, it would have gave her a B or B-minus in the class.

And yet, not all educators are afraid of the bot.

This year, Mollick is not only letting his students use ChatGPT, they are required. And he formally adopted an AI policy in his syllabus for the first time.

He teaches classes in entrepreneurship and innovation, and said early indications were that the move was going well.

“The truth is, I probably couldn’t have stopped them even if we didn’t need to,” Mollick said.

This week he led a session where the students were asked to come up with ideas for their class project. Almost everyone had ChatGPT running and was asking it to generate projects, and then interrogated the bot’s ideas with more instructions.

“And the ideas so far are great, partly as a result of that set of interactions,” Mollick said.

Users experimenting with the chatbot are warned before testing the tool that ChatGPT “may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information.”

OpenAI/Screenshot by NPR


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OpenAI/Screenshot by NPR

He readily admits that he alternates between enthusiasm and anxiety about how artificial intelligence can change classroom assessments, but he believes that educators must 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 this.

Mollick’s new policy states that the use of AI is an “emerging skill”; that he may be wrong and students should check his results with other sources; and to be responsible for any errors or omissions provided by the tool.

And, perhaps most importantly, students need to recognize when and how they used it.

“Failure to do so is in violation of academic honesty policies,” the policy reads.

Mollick is not the first to try to put guardrails in place for a post-ChatGPT world.

Earlier this month, 22-year-old Princeton student Edward Tian created a program to detect whether something was typed by a machine. It was so popular that when I launched it, the website crashed due to excessive use.

“Humans deserve to know when something is written by a human or written by a machine,” Tian told NPR about his motivation.

Mollick agrees, but is not convinced that educators can ever really stop cheating.

He quotes a survey of Stanford students who found that many had already used ChatGPT in their final exams, pointing to estimates that thousands of people in places like Kenya are writing essays on behalf of students abroad.

“I think everybody’s cheating … I mean, it’s happening. So what I’m asking students to do is just be honest with me,” he said. “Tell me what they use ChatGPT for, tell me what they used as prompts to get it to do what they want, and that’s all I’m asking of them. We’re in a world where this is happening, but now it’s just going to be on an even bigger scale.”

“I don’t think human nature changed as a result of ChatGPT. I think the ability did.”

The radio interview with Ethan Mollick was produced by Gabe O’Connor and edited by Christopher Intagliata.

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