To find out what’s next in AI ask it


My social media feeds this week have been full of people sharing their wonder (and shock) at a major advance in artificial intelligence – OpenAI’s new ChatGPT.

Using Chat GPT, it was noted that “academics have generated responses to exam queries that they say would result in full marks if submitted by an undergraduate, and programmers have used the tool to solve coding challenges in obscure programming languages in a matter of seconds.”

Bearly AI uses OpenAI and GPT3 in a more user-friendly package to automate:

* writing ideas based on existing text

* generating first drafts on any topic

* instant summaries (including key takeaways and counter-arguments) for any article or YouTube video

Of course AI assistants like this are imperfect… but what capacities might they have in 2023 or 2024? And where will the sector’s assessment policies be by then?

Commenting on social media, Phillip Dawson from Deakin University’s Centre for Research in Assessment & Digital Learning, noted that “when academics start using AI tools to reduce their 7,500 word paper to fit a 6000 word limit I imagine we’ll see all manner of justifications for why this is ok but students using AI writers is not.”

Whether you agree with Professor Dawson’s comments or not – this is a mainstream debate we need to be having in higher education, and to a lesser extent VET (which because of its competency-based approach is less reliant on written assessments).

While we know the kinds of assessment practices we need in a digital environment to ensure students really understand what has been taught, regrettably it appears that these practices are still not as widespread as they need to be.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s endeavours to block access to cheating services will not prevent access to these AI assistants. Anti-plagiarism tools are also ineffective, because the technology does not involve copying published works.

In trialling these tools I asked them for a summary of the benefits of Australian regional universities. I received well written responses outlining a number of features of them.

For an in-depth discussion of the importance of regional universities, I spoke with CQU’s Prof. Helen Huntly. No AI involved – instead an expert’s view, but it is worth noting that many of the points Professor Huntly made were also picked up by these AI tools…

 Claire Field is the host of the ‘What now? What next?’ podcast. Her interview with Prof. Huntly is available online


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