Universities begin embracing AI, ChatGPT in classrooms

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Artificial intelligence like ChatGPT is becoming more useful in day-to-day life. That includes in the classroom. We told you in February how some universities were just beginning to develop their policies surrounding AI. Now, it’s involved in student’s learning.

Mark Lubkowitz had 20 students in his biology class at St. Michael’s College. But there’s a new student in town-- ChatGPT.

“It was apparent to me like right out of the gate that this was going to be something that students were going to use,” said Lubkowitz.

To get ahead of students using artificial intelligence for homework help, Professor Lubkowitz allowed them to use ChatGPT for a take-home exam. Part of the assignment was to show how successful AI was at doing the work.

Lubkowitz says sometimes ChatGPT hits the nail on the head, and other times, not so much.

“About half of this hasn’t been covered in our class. So you have to then go and learn about that. Come back and ask, did it use it correctly?” said Lubkowitz.

Assistant Director of Digital Media Christopher Lei says it’s class experiments like Lubkowitz’s that will inform how a working group updates the academic honesty policy at St. Michael’s College.

“A lot of people are focusing on the ChatGPT writing, but we also have our InDesign, and media, and things like Photoshop, DallE and Midjourney, looking at that and making sure students aren’t using those tools to submit their creative work,” said Lei.

It’s an evolving discussion, one that could have two sides. At Middlebury College, Associate Provost for Digital Learning Amy Collier says AI can be a helpful tool if used the right way.

“Acknowledge that one faculty might choose to incorporate these technologies into their class, and help them do so in a way that aligns to what they want their students to do,” said Collier.

A task force is working on policy now, examining data privacy concerns and the cost of the services in the future.

“We’re evaluating the balance between making sure our students have access and making sure that that access is secure, safe and aligns to our institutional policies around IT infrastructure,” said Collier.

Back at St. Mike’s, Lubkowitz says he doesn’t trust it enough to replace humans, but he’s excited for students to continue learning along with AI.

“Their entire existence has always been about learning to adopt, learn and adapt,” said Lubkowitz.

UVM is navigating ChatGPT, too. They tell us a subcommittee of the faculty senate met over the summer, and they’re hoping to have more guidance on artificial intelligence by the end of the Fall semester.

Related Story:

AI in Class: Vt. colleges weigh risks and opportunities of ChatGPT