All the world is in a tizzy with the advent of ChatGPT — an Artificial intelligence (AI) powered programme that answers all your questions with human-like efficiency. It is Google on steroids, a Geek dream come true, and manna from heaven for all those who do not like to write!

ChatGPT can write notes, essays, articles, programmes, poems — you name it! All you need to do is give the correct ‘prompt’. Thus, posing a great challenge to instructors, teachers, and editors to discern the human from the machine. The game is on!

This brouhaha about ChatGPT has reached the furthest corners of the earth. There are even paid AI sites that can do copywriting with ease and efficiency without much human intervention. Content creator teams around the world are already trying them. And writers and designers can now take a back seat. Digital content producers, simple computer programmers or copywriters may not even be needed when ChatGPT can do it all for free.

Ever since ChatGPT cleared MBA and medical exam in the US, many professionals have been scratching their heads. Teachers are particularly worried about how ChatGPT and other language models like it have the potential to impact teaching and learning.

Teachers are scouring for solutions as traditional plagiarism software may already be archaic — too feeble to catch the work of AI. There is fear and trepidation in the entire academic community. There are helpful tools like GPTZero that can help identify whether a piece of writing is text generated by AI or not. However, none of this is foolproof. Open AI, the mother company of ChatGPT, understands this is a huge problem. A convenience that students may find very hard to resist.

Checks and balances

The AI juggernaut is already in motion; there is no going back. The young ones have hopped on the bandwagon and asking the bot to write their assignments for them. ChatGPT quickly and efficiently obliges — if not, the entire assignment, outlines, references, and research are all easy to do now.

Instructors, too, would have to ride this wave. They must explore all options for using AI in class. Wherever possible, perhaps it is a good idea to integrate AI-based learning. Self-study or group work can use AI to do background research and come up with better outcomes in lesser time.

For many courses where modelling and visualisation are needed, AI can help do that in real-time. Ideas can easily be converted into digital prototypes. Even simulations and games can become more realistic and enhance the potential of teamwork. AI can also be used in areas such as research, data analysis, and language learning.

Teachers can use it to create educational content and question banks for quizzes and exams. It can be used to suggest course outlines and compare pedagogy making it more democratic and available for all. ChatGPT and other language models may even be able to grade written work or provide real-time feedback to students during writing assignments.

Another way ChatGPT can be used in teaching is by providing personalised tutoring. The model can gauge a student’s level of understanding and provide appropriate explanations and examples to help them better use the material. It can help with language learning by providing contextually relevant translations and examples of the target language.

Writing is perhaps one of the most formidable skills to master, especially if English is not the first language. Also, with the habits of social media, low attention spans and poor reading, writing abilities have already been on a steep decline. It is also true that good writing can be difficult, time-consuming, and requires research and using ChatGPT can seem like an easy alternative.

* To counter the ease and reach of ChatGPT many experts have already started talking about pen-and-paper exams or a complete ban on the use of the internet during exams.

* Teachers need to go in a huddle and work out newer ways of making students write their own original answers. Assignments that require personal reflection, creative thinking, or a unique perspective may be more difficult for AI models to replicate.

* Students can even be asked to submit rough drafts or outlines, helping instructors to understand a student’s thought process better and identify any areas where they may have used an AI model to generate their work.

* Instructors can also make the students write more ‘in class’ and provide feedback. In the hope that by teaching students the skills, they need to write influential papers, we quell their need to rely on AI models to do the work for them.

* It’s also important to consider the assignment design and the workload; if the assignments are too time-consuming or the research required is not accessible, it may be better to adjust the assignment or offer alternative options.

* Institutions would also need to put a clear policy in place swiftly. It should be clear to students that using AI models to complete writing assignments will result in penalties. Students should have guidelines for adequately citing sources so that their own research and thought development can come through in their writing. They should know the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of plagiarism.

ChatGPT has tremendous potential, and educators have no choice but to make the process of teaching and learning more efficient and effective by adapting available AI resources. Until then, remember ChatGPT only has data until the end of 2021; give new topics for writing assignments and beat the AI brain.

The writer teaches Communication at Bhavan’s SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). Views expressed are personal