The boom of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots prompted one teacher to start incorporating it into the classroom, rather than blocking it.
Since its launch last year, schools worldwide have struggled with students' use of the popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT amid cheating concerns.
Mette Mølgaard Pedersen, an English teacher at Horsens Gymnasium in central Denmark, noticed that some students had submitted assignments with the help of an AI tool, just weeks after the launch of ChatGPT.
"My experience was that the students would use it without any kind of thought, and in that way, it becomes an obstacle to learning, and learning is the whole project here," said Pedersen.
"But if we could change the way they use it so that it becomes a tool for learning, then we would have won a lot, both in terms of, well, giving the students a new tool for learning, but also in terms of the relationship with the students," she added.
"Because if we can have the conversation with them about how to use AI, then the whole idea that they can't talk to us about it because it's forbidden goes away.
"And whether or not you like this and whether or not you think it's problematic, you have to realise that it is here. And if you drive it underground, then you stop all conversation about it".
Using ChatGPT as a tool to learn
The boom of ChatGPT prompted Pedersen to start formulating a project for using the chatbot in the classroom, rather than blocking it.
Now, five Danish high schools - including Pedersen's - are encouraging the use of the technology in some classes, as part of a two-year project.
The students are so far content with the initiative.
"I think we were all thinking it's cheating by using it, but I think we're all kind of using it as a thing in class. And then, 'oh, look at this, it's something new,' and it can give you all the answers you want in a matter of seconds," said Fie Nørskov, an 18-year-old student at Horsens Gymnasium.
In a recent English class, students were tasked with analysing a short story first by themselves and then using an AI chatbot. It’s a lesson in the technology’s abilities, but also its limitations.
"I think it's great. I mean, it's a tool almost like any other thing in the world. It's almost like a search engine, but you can be more specific with it and, it can give you more straight answers than typing something into Google," said Jacob Yde Dideriksen, 17, another student at Horsens Gymnasium.
Return to paper-based testing
Pedersen thinks it's an arms race to use detectors as the AI tools will constantly evolve to evade the detectors.
"It is also a misunderstanding to think that the primary goal of the school system is to detect students who cheat," she said.
"The primary goal of the school system is to teach the students. The primary product here is the learning which the students experience".
Education consultant Tine Wirenfeldt Jensen, who’s a member of the Danish Ministry of Education's expert group on ChatGPT, believes "it’s important to have open conversations with the students".
"Many places, what is the actual fact of the moment is that you can't speak about it because then you are sort of branded as a bad person, you know, and that's not helpful at all to developing healthy, curious, competent young people," she said.
Many other educators are taking the opposite route - seeing a need to "ChatGPT-proof" test questions and assignments.
For some instructors that means a return to paper exams, after years of digital-only tests.
Some professors are requiring students to show editing history and drafts to prove their thought process.
Other instructors are less concerned. Some students have always found ways to cheat, they say, and this is just the latest option.
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