With responsible use and clear guidelines the learning will accelerate – but how will we get there?
GUEST COLUMN | by Mike Caruso
For as long as there’s been higher education (or any kind of educational institutions for that matter), there’s been cheating. Professors have long kept a watchful eye on concealed notes, copied answers, and plagiarism. But today, educators face an entirely new challenge: ChatGPT.
In fact, a recent survey of U.S. college students found nearly one-third have already used ChatGPT on written homework. Of this group, three-quarters believe using ChatGPT is a form of cheating, but use the tool anyway.
ChatGPT’s lasting impact on higher education remains an open-ended question — and institutions are still working to figure out the answer. But generative AI doesn’t need to spell the end of academic integrity. Rather, when used responsibly and under clear guidelines and exceptions, ChatGPT and similar tools should assist both students and faculty — and accelerate learning. So how do we get there?
How are schools tackling generative AI?
Higher education institutions are split on the use — and misuse – of generative AI tools.
Some schools are taking a zero-tolerance approach that views ChatGPT no differently than plagiarism. In this scenario, institutions are deploying detection tools that are increasingly effective at catching students in the act of “cheating” via generative AI (with some tools able to detect 97% of instances).
Other institutions, however, are adopting a more open-minded approach and working to implement ChatGPT to support and accelerate learning. Instead of punishing students, these institutions allow students to use ChatGPT to assist learning within certain bounds, with faculty working alongside students to better understand the benefits, downsides, and responsible use cases for generative AI tools in academia.
‘Instead of punishing students, these institutions allow students to use ChatGPT to assist learning within certain bounds, with faculty working alongside students to better understand the benefits, downsides, and responsible use cases for generative AI tools in academia.’
If you ask me, the latter approach is far more appealing — not to mention more practical in today’s digital environment. Using ChatGPT effectively and responsibly better prepares students for their future careers, especially given that working professionals increasingly rely on AI tools to improve productivity and work quality. A recent poll found 63% of students and 72% of teachers agreed that ChatGPT is “just another example of why we can’t keep doing things the old way for schools in the modern world.”
So why devote substantial resources and time to detecting, preventing, and punishing the use of ChatGPT? Instead, by actively adapting teaching methods and curricula to leverage generative AI tools, institutions can create more engaging and effective learning experiences for students and reduce burdens for educators.
5 strategies to integrate generative AI tools
ChatGPT is a powerful tool, but it’s by no means a replacement for human interaction, in-depth instruction, or any of the other components crucial to higher education.
Like other learning tools, reinforce any generative AI solutions you adopt with an intentional strategy, clear guidelines, and ongoing training opportunities. These five considerations can help you successfully integrate ChatGPT to best support both students and faculty at your institution.
1. Familiarize yourself with AI tools.
Rather than discouraging ChatGPT, start by familiarizing yourself with the capabilities, limitations, and potential applications of generative AI tools. By understanding what generative AI does well and where tools may struggle, you can set realistic expectations, effectively communicate with faculty and students about the tool’s functionalities, and make informed decisions about integrating generative AI solutions into your educational environment.
2. Provide clear guidelines for AI use.
It’s crucial to develop clear guidelines and policies to ensure students, faculty, and staff understand how they can use generative AI on assignments, interactions, and assessments to assist their daily work — and how to do so responsibly. In particular, your institution needs explicit policies for academic honesty that outline what’s permissible and what’s considered a violation of academic integrity.
In addition, faculty should provide the proper guidance and context to explain how ChatGPT fits within your broader learning experiences, along with discussing ethical considerations, potential biases, and any opportunities and limitations associated with these tools. Engaging in a healthy dialogue around generative AI solutions ensures students and teachers are on the same page and understand when calling upon tools is encouraged — and when it’s a breach in learning.
3. Design curriculum to include new technologies.
There are numerous ways educators can integrate ChatGPT into the classroom — and you should design courses and curricula with generative AI and other emerging technologies in mind. Whether used as a discussion starter or a creativity booster, ChatGPT can support specific learning objectives and activities. Faculty should identify specific use cases where generative AI tools add the most value to their teaching methods and student learning outcomes.
Opening the door to generative AI when designing curriculum alleviates some of the prep work that too often distracts educators from other core responsibilities, such as pursuing ongoing learning and development opportunities or building stronger relationships with their students and peers.
4. Adjust student assignments and assessments.
ChatGPT has a major impact on the way students approach learning activities, assignments, and assessments — and you need to adjust accordingly. That could include designing assessments that mitigate the impact of AI-generated text. For example, online courses increasingly rely on discussion-based assessments (DBAs), which focus on students’ abilities to engage in meaningful and productive discussions about specific topics, concepts, or course material — demonstrating their knowledge and expertise without the use of ChatGPT.
Or you may develop assessments that encourage students to use generative AI tools. Some instructors are replacing essay assignments with task-based assessments that require students to solve real-life problems.
A potential assignment could involve creating a 30-day plan for a new manager to improve communication and collaboration within a virtual team with employees in different countries. This would require students to identify and analyze cultural differences among team members, explain why specific actions were chosen, and discuss how to measure the impact of the plan on people, relationships, or productivity. Students may rely on ChatGPT to assist and expedite their process, but they are ultimately demonstrating their learning experience with the skills needed in the real world.
5. Commit to continuous learning.
Faculty will require ongoing training and support as they learn, apply, and refine generative AI tools. Invest in professional development resources such as workshops to help faculty members understand how to effectively leverage ChatGPT in their teaching practices. Confidence is enhanced through collaboration and knowledge-sharing among faculty to foster peer-to-peer support.
Likewise, evaluate the effectiveness of integrating ChatGPT into your curriculum, gathering routine feedback from students and faculty to assess its long-term impact on learning experiences. Then make any necessary adjustments. In the classroom, faculty should monitor student engagement with ChatGPT and its impact on learning outcomes, providing feedback to students to help them interpret and evaluate the outputs generated by AI platforms. You may consider partnering with a third-party expert to help build and support technology infrastructure and online programs that can effectively incorporate generative AI tools.
‘From the scientific calculator to the internet, transformative technologies have always raised concerns about academic integrity. But these technologies have also enhanced educational experiences and landscapes in dramatic ways, making learning easier, more effective, and more accessible.’
From the scientific calculator to the internet, transformative technologies have always raised concerns about academic integrity. But these technologies have also enhanced educational experiences and landscapes in dramatic ways, making learning easier, more effective, and more accessible.
ChatGPT is just the latest iteration — and with the right support and structures, generative AI tools will prove immensely valuable to students and faculty. The future of learning is here. Are you ready to embrace it?
Mike Caruso is Manager of Instructional Design and Project Management at AllCampus. Mike has years of first-hand experience helping top-ranked universities develop and design courses. He understands the value of integrating generative AI into higher ed to better support and prepare both students and faculty for the future. Connect with Mike through LinkedIn.