What if Artificial Intelligence answers the exams?

The artificial intelligence ChatGPT, a text generator that can do, for now, the more or less simple tasks that teachers request from students when they ask them for summaries or synthesis of specific knowledgehas spread massively in the educational world, leading teachers to wonder about the opportunity to ban it or benefit from it.

Since mid-December, just a few weeks after the launch of the instrument by the Californian start-up OpenAI, eight Australian universities announced that they will modify the exams and consider that the use of Artificial Intelligence by students is related to cheating.
In 2023, their tests will now be “monitored” with “an increasing use of paper and pen,” said the leader of the “group of eight” Vicki Thomson, quoted in The Australian newspaper blog.

ChatGPT was launched in December in California and has already sparked debates around the world. It was even banned in some places.

Recently, after various media outlets referred to the growing use of this text generator by students around the world, especially encouraged by TikTok videos, New York public schools restricted access to ChatGPT on their networks. and terminals.

The instrument “does not facilitate the development of critical reflection and problem solving skills, which are essential for school success and throughout life”says Jenna Lyle, spokesperson for the US city’s education department.

Hits and misses

ChatGPT is a conversational bot that was “trained” from phenomenal amounts of data gathered from the web and can “predict” the likely continuation of a text. But although it does not reason, it produces an impressive mixture of correct answers and factual or logical errors, more or less difficult to decipher.

For example, he cites the whale shark (a fish) among marine mammals, is wrong about the size of the Central American countries, “forgets” some historical events such as the battle of Amiens in 1870 or invents bibliographical references.

In the educational world, some voices speak out against this innovation in teaching methods.

“ChatGPT is an important innovation, but no more than that of calculators or text editors,” which eventually found a place in school, explains Antonio Casili, a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Paris and author of “Waiting for the robots”.

According to him, “ChatGPT can help to make a first draft when you are in front of the empty page, but then you have to rewrite everything and give it a style”.

The expert also points out that ChatGPT partly shakes up the philosophy of teaching, based on the teacher who asks questions.

This time, the student interrogates the machine and “it is an opportunity for us to see how the students carry out the tasks we entrusted to them, make them work on fact-checking, and verify if the generated bibliographical references are correct”, Casili analyzes.

For Olivier Ertzscheid, a researcher at the University of Nantes in information sciences, the ban on the tool is in any case “counterproductive” as it reinforces the desire of students to use it.

Also, It must be taken into account that for more than two decades Google has been allowing students -but not only them- to copy and paste information for essays, monographs, etc.

In any case, the use of Artificial Intelligence, in all areas, but also in education, will bring with it not only a new debate on whether to use it or not, but also how to incorporate it, so that it becomes a tool for learning, for checking of information, and not just an easy way to get rid of homework or tests.

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