If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT and the ramifications on the education system – then you are in for a bumpy ride.
To put it bluntly – we will be seeing plagiarism on steroids and unless our teaching practices become more sophisticated – it will be almost impossible to decipher whether a student or Artificial Intelligence (AI) wrote an assessment, essay, or information.
ChatGPT (https://chat.openai.com/chat), is an advanced chatbot that produces human-like responses to user-generated prompts. This technology only came out to the public late 2022.
At the moment, it is in testing mode, and already the results are astounding. You can ask basically anything and it will give you the appropriate answer. An example of a prompt could be “Create a PESTLE analysis for Tupperware”
This is problematic.
I teach marketing subjects at RMIT and creating a PESTLE analysis for a business is part of the assessments.
In the example above, I used Tupperware (but in reality, you could use any business or even simply describe a business like: ‘Create a PESTLE analysis for a large athletic company’).
I asked the following questions:
- Create a PESTLE analysis for Tupperware
- Create two different target markets for Tupperware
- Create a marketing plan that targets each of the above target markets for Tupperware
It took ChatGPT about 2 minutes to come up with the above answers.
These questions form a part of a past assessment we have given the students.
The result of ChatGPT is that it looks like it was written by a person. A person with good grammar skills and an understanding of how assessments should be structured. Although it gave generic answers for the PESTLE (ie: For Political – ChatGPT stated ‘company may face risks associated with trade tariffs’), you can continue the discussion by asking ChatGPT these types of questions:
- Write 100 words on how the company may face risks associated with trade tariffs (it did and it made sense)
- Name two types of Australian Instagram influencers that suit Tupperware products (it gave me three influencers for each target market)
- Name Australian magazines to advertise Tupperware best (not only did it name 4 magazines, but it also stated the reasons why).
As you can see, no thought process or research was conducted. I am able to complete an assessment in about 5 minutes. Plagiarism at its sneakiest.
There is a glimmer of hope though. ChatGPT isn’t perfect… yet (remember it is still in its infancy).
I asked the following:
Name two types of Australian Instagram influencers that suit Tupperware products.
The result stated:
- Health and wellness influencers: Tupperware could partner with Australian Instagram influencers focusing on health and wellness content. These influencers could showcase how Tupperware products can be used for meal prep, storage, and on-the-go eating, and highlight the durability and eco-friendliness of the products. Some examples of health and wellness influencers in Australia could include @healthy_happydays, @wellnesswithrach, and @thewellnesscollective.
- Parenting influencers: Tupperware could also partner with Australian Instagram influencers who focus on parenting content. These influencers could showcase how Tupperware products can help simplify the lives of busy families, and highlight the convenience and practicality of the products. Some examples of parenting influencers in Australia could include @mumswithhustle, @mummytobeblog, and @thesweetmama.
The influencers ChatGPT mentioned above were either non-existent, did not have a decent-sized audience, or were just in the wrong industry. Not only is it a type of plagiarism, but the information is also incorrect. But will a student simply take this information at face value and submit it anyway? Or will a teacher not familiar with these influencers take it at face value and deem it satisfactory?
University programs, like TurnItIn, independently verify plagiarism by finding similarities on the internet or through other students’ submitted work. But ChatGPT uses its own internal neural network to produce its answers and therefore TurnItIn won’t be able to detect or signal plagiarism.
High schools and universities will need to develop standards for dealing with these kinds of cases, and they’re going to have to do it FAST. Students are generally more tech-savvy than most high school teachers and university lecturers. Most will have used it by the time the Australian schools start in February (if the students haven’t already used it by now).
There are apps in the pipeline to expose AI-written essays and assessments, like GPTZero, created by Edward Tian. Even though it is also in its infancy, it could be the breakthrough higher education needs to combat AI plagiarism.
More sophisticated AI will be available to the general public. Soon, it won’t be enough to ask for citations to prove students have done the work, as there is already an AI site in the Beta phase for that (check out: https://www.perplexity.ai/, which gives you the answer and cites references retrieved from the internet only in a matter of seconds).
In the example below, Perplexity AI negates the issues ChatGPT had in deciphering the best influencers for Tupperware.
Imagine if AI could infiltrate the final frontier of databases with cited works and published journals. Would that make critical thinking, problem-solving, and education redundant?
To ensure students remain to be the critical thinkers of our future, we may need to revert back to handwritten tests, oral presentations, case studies completed in class and ask for cite peer-reviewed articles only, and no devices in class – this should give students the space to think critically, for at least, a few hours in class, and without the temptation to find the answer on the internet immediately.
One thing is for sure – ChatGPT is in its infancy and it affects every type of educational subject that has written assessments. ChatGPT is a self-learning tool. Who knows what knowledge it will attain in a month’s time?
So, I ask all teachers – to try it out with one of your assessments. And be prepared to think of other ways to assess your students, to help them critically think and problem-solve for the future.
I would love to know your results.