Artificial intelligence for homework: nightmare or opportunity for teachers?

Are artificial intelligences like ChatGPT beneficial or harmful for the educational system? Specialists talk about it. 

The ChatGPT artificial intelligence , capable of writing texts in response to simple questions, has 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 instrument was supplied 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 pen and paper,” said the leader of the “group of eight” Vicki Thomson, quoted in The Australian newspaper blog.

Recently, after various media outlets referred to the growing use of the tool 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 thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for success in school and throughout life,” says Jenna Lyle, spokeswoman for the US city’s department of education.

ChatGPT is a chatbot 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, he is wrong about the size of the Central American countries, he “forgets” some historical events such as the battle of Amiens in 1870 or he 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 in the end found a place in the school, explains Antonio Casili, professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Paris and author of “Waiting for the robots” (Seuil).

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 ban would encourage its use 

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 (western France) in information sciences, the ban on the tool is “counterproductive” anyway, as it reinforces the desire of students to use it.

As after the advent of Wikipedia or search engines, the option for teachers is, according to him, “experience the limits” of these instruments.

Finally, responses are being generated to detect the texts generated by Artificial Intelligence.

The online service GPTZero prepares, for example, an offer dedicated to education professionals and OpenAI works on a “statistical watermark” placed when the text is generated. In other words, cheaters are already warned. (AFP)