Academic institutions of all levels are still grappling with how to identify and handle student work that includes AI-generated ideas and writing. Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, describes some of the challenges facing teachers and students in regards to AI in an interview with NPR in which he says, “I think we are just barely starting to get our hands around this. You know, is it ethical to have the AI write you a draft that you modify? Is it ethical for you to paste in text and ask it to improve it?”
Some educators feel that allowing a student to use a homework AI bot is essentially giving that student permission to plagiarize. After all, if a child is consistently using AI for doing homework, then they aren’t really learning much, except for how to copy and paste answers that were written by someone (or something) else. Banning AI from the classroom seems like the simplest solution in the short-term, and several institutions and school districts have already taken this step.
However, a growing number of experts believe that a blanket ban may not work in the long run because of one undeniable fact: AI might be here to stay. Today’s students may be using these types of tools in their future jobs, so they may need to learn how to engage with them in an effective and ethical way.
“The technology is already being rolled out into consumer and business software,” writes Will Douglas Heaven, senior editor for AI at MIT Technology Review, in his article “ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it.” He continues, “If nothing else, many teachers now recognize that they have an obligation to teach their students about how this new technology works and what it can make possible.”
For parents and teachers, the key may be to not outright ban AI, but instead hold students more accountable for generating their own thoughts and analytical skills by enphasising the benefits of having those foundational skills in the first place.