Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to get some interesting press on Twitter. Former doctor turned YouTuber, Ali Abdaal recently posted a "listicle" on Twitter that was generated by only one sentence by Abdaal and all the rest was generated by AI.
Text generated by AI is beginning to be used in a wide array of spaces. In some cases, it is being used to replace human authorship. In other cases, it is being used to supplement human authorship. When educators start to assess writing, they need to think about how they will assess text that was simply verified by the human author but generated primarily by AI.
Many educators - particularly college educators - consider self-plagiarism, i.e. re-use of the student's own work in multiple courses - to be plagiarism. Is the use of AI plagiarism when the text has not been previously written anywhere else? Is the use of AI cheating? Since most AI tools currently require at least some financial investment, is AI yet another tool that disadvantages students from lower socioeconomic statuses in education?
Given the rapid expansion of AI in many spheres, it is important to consider how it might be used in writing assessment - one of the primary methods we use to assess learning. For example, an AI tool could be used to verify the accuracy of a student's text. However, if the tool is solely used to verify the accuracy of a text, does that make it plagiarism? Or does it make it cheating if the tool is used to help a student copy and paste material from other sources?
I am also intrigued by how educators will resist the future rather than embracing it. Many educators resist the future, fearing that AI will replace human authorship. In many cases, this is based on a misunderstanding of how AI works. The text generated by AI is verified by a human, but it is primarily generated by the AI tool.
As an example of the continued resistance by educators and those who rely on educators to produce workers, last week, I learned that the American Chemical Society will no longer accredit programs that use fully virtual or online laboratories at any time in their program.
The ACS statement reads in part:
“At this time, the ACS is no longer accrediting programs that use fully virtual or online laboratories. We understand the importance of continued innovation in laboratory technologies and applaud the efforts of those that develop new approaches, but we believe that fully virtual or online laboratories cannot yet be considered an acceptable mode of instruction for our members.”
This is occurring at the same time that the workforce is in dire need of high skill workers in STEM related disciplines and where adults will need to gain additional training in order to fill jobs that a decline in high school enrollment will leave open. This is a pressing issue because the workforce will need to continue to adapt to new technologies and changing business needs if the United States wants to maintain its position as a leading global economy.
How should we balance changes in technology with educational standards?
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If you haven't guessed yet, the italicized pieces of this blog post were generated by AI - specifically via a plugin to Obsidian (obsidian.md) called Text Generator. I chose to use the Curie generator from OpenAI. This article used $0.00208 in credits to support its writing.