University of Windsor admin hopes ChatGPT AI program will teach students limitations of technology

University of Windsor admin hopes ChatGPT AI program will teach students limitations of technology

While many post-secondary students have heard of the artificial intelligence (AI) tool ChatGPT, some are hesitant to use it.

ChatGPT is a text-based AI program that allows users to type in a series of prompts, before the software replies with an outcome.

The program has gained popularity because of its ability to comply with user requests most of the time.

“I’ve stayed away from it,” said Isaac Czudner, a business administration student at the University of Windsor. “I don’t know how it produces the answers it produces, or if it’s even accurate information, which is why I’ve stayed away from it.”

Others said they have used it in the past, but only as either a study aid or just for fun.

“I’ve used it to check if my program, when I’m writing the code, to make sure it gives the same outcome,” said Husam Morra, a computer science student at the University of Windsor. “But it’s usually for personal projects; nothing to do with school.”

The program has also gained notoriety as a potential cheating tool among students. Western University professors said they have already seen students using AI programs, such as ChatGPT, to get around having to complete assignments themselves.

The University of Windsor said it will not be banning the program.

“This is not a tool that we can ban,” said Nick Baker, director of open learning. “This is also not something that we can throw a whole lot of technology out to prevent. In doing so, we would do a disservice to our students.”

A man wearing a blue shirt and a dark blue pullover sweater standing in front of a bookshelf with books
Nick Baker is the director of open learning at the University of Windsor. He said that they cannot ban the use of ChatGPT or implement additional technology to combat its use. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

Baker said the proper course of action is to teach students the “limitations of these tools, the biases that come with large amounts of data and how they will appropriately incorporate them into their lives.”

Few University of Windsor faculty members have a deep understanding of ChatGPT, according to Baker.

“The university has started a conversation, both here on campus and externally with colleagues, who are all at the same place thinking about what this actually means for us from a teaching and a learning perspective,” Baker said. “We think that there’s a lot to learn at this point.”

Some students said that while the program is good, it is not always accurate.

“My friends use it and they said that it can help them write essays, which I think is useful,” said Kristina Filiposka, a computer science student at the University of Windsor. “But then after you take that, I think you should [take] your own steps to edit and revise the work that the AI produces.”

Filiposka, a student who has not used ChatGPT, said it’s better to get grades the hard way.

“Taking your own approach to learning is better than actually using software to build all that stuff,” said Filiposka.

Other schools’ response

A professor at Western University has fewer qualms about its use and is taking action to make sure it is used properly.

“I’m already thinking of ways I can integrate this into my teaching, just as I don’t expect students to write essays by hand with a quill pen anymore,” said Mark Daley, chief digital information officer and computer science professor at Western.

John Fairley, vice-president of college communications and community relations at St. Clair College, said it’s not currently an issue at the school and he hasn’t heard of any instances of the software being used to cheat.

A man wearing a black suit with a black shirt and glasses
Mark Daley is a computer science professor at Western University. He is excited about the emergence of ChatGPT as an educational aid. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

The Greater Essex County District School Board declined to comment on its use, citing its lack of knowledge on the program and its use in schools.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board said its senior administration is aware of the rising popularity of ChatGPT.

“As far as we know, the use of it in schools is very low so far, however it’s extremely difficult to determine whether it’s even been used or not,” the statement said. “We don’t currently have any plans to ban it, however we are researching its use.”

The board also said teachers will be able to learn more through sessions about determining whether AI is being used and how to caution students about using it.

The Greater Essex County District School Board declined to comment on the use of ChatGPT in its schools, citing its lack of knowledge on the program. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

CBC News asked ChatGPT what it thinks of students using AI programs to complete assignments instead of doing it themselves. ChatGPT responded that it is not aware of how any specific user chooses to use it.

“It is important to note that the use of any tool, including language models like me, for cheating is not only unethical, but also against the terms of service for most academic institutions,” ChatGPT said. “It is ultimately the responsibility of the student and the educational institution to ensure that academic integrity is upheld and that any instances of cheating are dealt with accordingly.”

ChatGPT added that language models like it are aimed at helping users create text and are not substitutes for original work or critical thinking.

A text-based conversation between a journalist and an artificial intelligence software
This is the request CBC News asked of ChatGPT and its response. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

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