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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

College Professors Calling Foul on the Use of ChatGPT is a Step Backwards

January 17, 2023

College professors are moving backwards in time by trying to clamp down on their students’ use of ChatGPT, a form of artificial intelligence that can deliver knowledge – and even portions of college papers.

Antony Aumann, a philosophy professor at Northern Michigan University told Kaley Huang for her story in the New York Times that red flags went up when reading a paper that was easily the best in the class.

The student confessed to using ChatGPT.

Some may call it a step forward, others a step backward, but Aumann acted.

Alarmed by his discovery, Mr. Aumann decided to transform essay writing for his courses this semester. He plans to require students to write first drafts in the classroom, using browsers that monitor and restrict computer activity. In later drafts, students have to explain each revision. Mr. Aumann, who may forgo essays in subsequent semesters, also plans to weave ChatGPT into lessons by asking students to evaluate the chatbot’s responses.”

Aumann is not alone.

Across the country, university professors like Mr. Aumann, department chairs and administrators are starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, prompting a potentially huge shift in teaching and learning. Some professors are redesigning their courses entirely, making changes that include more oral exams, group work and handwritten assessments in lieu of typed ones.

Other universities recognize that AI is not the last innovation they’ll have to deal with and find banning it a step backwards for reasons of academic freedom and the advancement of knowledge.

Some law students see value in embracing A.I. tools to learn. Elizabeth Shackney, a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school and design school, has started, with some qualms, using ChatGPT to brainstorm for papers and debug coding problem sets.

“There are disciplines that want you to share and don’t want you to spin your wheels,” she said, describing her computer science and statistics classes. “The place where my brain is useful is understanding what the code means.”’

Professors trying to clamp down on ChatGPT may want to try this AI tool and see how it can constructively advance knowledge. We’re moving forward, like it or not – and admittedly with some speed bumps we didn’t see a year ago.

Using browsers that monitor and restrict the computer activity of your students is headed nowhere, except backwards.