In this article we will be taking a look at the usage of AI in education and the schools and universities should be encouraging or policing it.
We will take a look from numerous perspectives to get the best understanding of this new concept in the academic arena. By taking a look at the pros and cons of using AI in an educational context, We can then understand the impacts, outcomes, and potential policies that can be implemented. Let's dive right in.
As more and more students begin using AI to draft essays, aid in research, and be more efficient overall, many institutions and instructors don't know how to react. Should they embrace this newfound technology and modify the way that they instruct students? Or should they reject this modern phenomenon, and punish students who are caught using AI in their work? From the surface level, both of these approaches hold water. However, let's take a closer look at how students are using AI, how it is impacting their work, and a comparison between AI enabled and non-AI outputs. From all this information, we can begin to answer the question of should students be punished for using AI?
First, let's review how students are using AI in their general day to day. The usage of the AI falls into three distinct categories. One is research, two is writing, and three is editing. Students will leverage conversational AI like ChatGPT, and the GPT LLM's to aid in the research process. They'll ask questions like when did this historical figure do this historical action? Or, how does this molecule interact with this other molecule? Detailed questions like these can be easily answered by the leading AIs of 2023.
They can also use this to write content for themselves. Instead of simply researching and finding facts which then must be verified, they could have the AI output entire paragraphs or even essays from individual prompts. Of course, this writing isn't incredibly personable, and will need deep fact checking to ensure that the so-called facts mentioned in the content are accurate and timely.
Students can also edit existing writing for clarity, grammar, and more. They can use tools like conversational AI, or more legacy offerings like Grammarly which recently added AI enabled features.
Compared to a pre-2021 world, when generative AI wasn't as accessible, students are now much more efficient with their work. The entire process of research and writing has been disrupted. But, is this disruption for the best or for the worst? Of course, that question is a bit subjective, but let's take a look at both viewpoints.
The positive viewpoint is now that students are able to be more efficient with the actual process of writing information, they can spend more time on the learning and synthesis of facts and information. Therefore, a student who uses AI may actually learn more about the content if they devote the same amount of time and effort into an assignment as somebody not using AI.
The negative viewpoint is that the student will simply use AI to regurgitate generic information and fax which may not be accurate due to hallucinations, submit the assignment, and go on with their day.
Taking a look at both of these viewpoints, both cases will likely shake out to be true. However, the students that use AI to quickly finish an assignment will likely be attempting the same thing even in a non-AI environment. A student who doesn't want to learn cannot be forced to learn. And, students to use AI to create entire papers are easily detected by leading AI detectors, unless they run their content through a humanization tool like HideMyAI. Even then, it's important that the student runs through the entire information and checks it for clarity, writing style, and of course information accuracy. All AI models are known to hallucinate. This is a phenomenon when the AI will output a piece of information that is seemingly accurate, and sounds correct. However, after deeper research, it becomes apparent that this is not a fact at all.
Therefore, if somebody simply generates an essay and submits it, without humanizing the AI output or fact checking the information within, they run the risk of being detected. However, if a student leverage is AI to write content, and then goes into a deep fact checking sequence, they may actually learn the information even better during the process of researching all of these so-called facts that the AI has output.
Now, let's take a look at the question of if a student should be punished for using AI in their output. In our opinion, absolutely not. Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and these tools are already being used in the professional workforce. If you are an educator banning the use of AI, you are putting your students at a disadvantage when they enter the professional world. After all, the entire purpose of education, specifically higher education, is to prepare a student for the real world.
By encouraging the responsible use of AI in education, you can teach your students how best to leverage these tools, giving them an edge in the professional world. By prioritizing the accuracy of AI generated content, you'll teach them the skills that are necessary to quickly fact check, synthesize information, and leverage AI for academic and personal use.