This site offers some ways to approach the use of AI as well as an ongoing collection of articles and resources including a summary and video of a forum hosted by CNDLS and the Main Campus Executive Faculty (MCEF), where faculty and student representatives discussed Chat GPT ; click this link to view the recording and some key takeaways of the Feb. 9, 2023 event.

What is Chat GPT and GPT-4?

Perhaps most germane to faculty at this point in time, ChatGPT and its cousins can be used to write clear, human-like text, produce computer code and scripts, answer some math and statistics problem sets, and more. To learn more about what it is and why some people are concerned, you may want to watch this short interview with Prof. Emily Bender and read this New York Times article. If you like, you can also read what the Washington Post editorial board has posited about potential societal impacts and consider this list of ways to harness AI across a variety of tasks. While ChatGPT is the most recent AI tool to receive attention, but other similar tools are available (e.g., Quillbot AI), not to mention generative AI for images, video, etc.

ChatGPT can provide clear, concise text based on a prompt provided by the user. Here's how ChatGPT 3.5 describes itself (Jan. 3, 2023) versus a description generated on April 21, 2023:

"GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) is a type of artificial intelligence model developed by OpenAI. It is a large language model that is trained on a massive dataset of text and is able to generate human-like text by predicting the next word in a sequence. There are several versions of GPT, including GPT, GPT-2, and GPT-3. The main difference between these versions is the size of the model and the amount of data that it was trained on." (1/3/23)

"Hello! I am ChatGPT, a large language model designed to understand and generate natural language text. As a user, you can interact with me in natural language, just like you would with another person. I can assist you with a wide variety of tasks, such as answering questions, providing information, and even generating creative content like poetry or short stories. I have been trained on a vast corpus of text data, allowing me to draw on a wide range of knowledge and information to help you with your queries. My training has enabled me to understand context and meaning in language, which means I can provide more nuanced and accurate responses.

I am constantly learning and evolving, so the more you interact with me, the better I become at understanding and responding to your needs. I am designed to be user-friendly, so don't be afraid to ask me anything – I am always here to help!" (4/21/23)

Be aware that these responses are synthesized from data used to "train" the software, and that at times, AI chatbots can "hallucinate," or make up answers if there is a gap in what's available and relevant. Here’s more on how Chat GPT works from Open AI and an article on previous iterations of the technology. This glossary of AI terms developed by the folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may help you familiarize yourself with the landscape. On the policy front, in October, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a report labeled Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People.

Artificial Intelligence and Education

The release of the currently free software, ChatGPT, in November of 2022 prompted a flurry of excitement and legitimate concern. The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), natural language processors (recall Clippy from Microsoft), and other machine learning into our education and work processes is certainly here to stay. Since then, Microsoft purchased the technology and integrated it with its search engine, Bing followed by Google's Bard. AI extends well beyond writing, as it is able to create images, slide decks, video with audio, music, etc.

As with previous cycles of technology adoption, from calculators to Wolfram Alpha to Google Translate, the natural language processing technologies will only improve. Thus, it's important to acknowledge that such technology will change how we write. Competitors like Jenni and Google's Bard are already on the market and improving on what's been available in the recent past; for example, Jenni can provide citations, albeit still imperfectly. On March 14, 2023, Chat GPT was 'upgraded' to GPT-4. In the long term, OpenAI plans to build and deploy systems that can juggle multiple types of media, including sound and video as well as text and images.

Because some educators worry about a changing social contract in which students submit work they haven’t produced themselves, the first instinct might be to ban ChatGPT use altogether, which some schools have done. Instead of forbidding its use, however, we might investigate which questions AI poses for us as teachers and for our students as learners. This approach aligns with such Georgetown values as “contemplation in action,” which holds that reflection is a critical aspect of intellectual inquiry.

One way to acknowledge this principle is to “teach the problem.” All of us, regardless of discipline, should take this moment to ask “How can we think anew about producing and sharing ideas? How might the task of communication change and grow?” The addition of AI to our workflow asks us to consider the spirit and intent of communication, as outlined in this thought-provoking piece by Jeff Loats. We may also want to acknowledge a changing set of limitations, such as while natural language processing tools can appear to reason, the New York Times notes that "the technology still doesn’t understand what is true or not. And it can’t come up with original ideas or discuss the future."

Review these broader implications of AI in Higher Education in a presentation given by CNDLS staff at the Teaching, Learning & Innovation Summer Institute.

Need Help?

  • Please reach out to CNDLS if you have any questions about the use of ChatGPT in the classroom.
  • David Lipscomb, Director of the Writing Program, is available to discuss ways of thinking about the role of writing, teaching writing, and any other related issues.
  • The Academic Honor Council may also be a resource if you have questions about managing this issue with your students.