NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – It’s no secret that technology is constantly evolving. The latest breakthrough in artificial intelligence, called Chat GPT, is finding its way into many aspects of our lives, including college campuses.
Chat GPT is a search engine that learns algorithms to process and understand information and then generates human-like responses. So, instead of getting search results like you’re used to seeing, you can have a life-like conversation with Chat GPT. It’s trained on the information that’s already on the internet, so it can respond to a wide range of topics and questions.
10 On Your Side wanted to know how this technology is finding its way onto college campuses, so we reached out to local universities to find out.
At Old Dominion University, students had mixed reactions.
“My professor just updated his syllabus saying that you have to cite Chat GPT,” said Anthony, who is a junior at ODU and has used Chat GPT for fun. “It was pretty neat, I liked how I was able to come up with different messages on the fly.”
Anthony said he has not used Chat GPT for classes, but has used the technology for various discussion boards.
“It’s a website where it allows you to put in a prompt, ask a question and it gives you an answer based on the prompt you give it,” Anthony said. “You can type in something and it can bring in information from a myriad of different sources in the blink of an eye.”
Other students had never heard of it and didn’t think they’d ever consider using it for homework.
“I would just be paranoid that it would be plagiarizing because I don’t know how that would be generated,” said freshman Caitlyn Cyr.
Said freshman Kayleigh Patrick: “I feel comfortable writing my papers, so normally I like taking the time to know what I’m writing about.”
That said, professors at ODU certainly know about it.
“Educators are concerned,” said Dr. Helen Crompton, ODU Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning. “They’ve had COVID, with all going online with that, and now they’re facing this, but this is a new one.”
Crompton is the Director of the Virtual Reality Lab and the Technology Enhanced Learning Lab at ODU. She’s currently in Europe, speaking with other educators and professionals about Chat GPT.
“Like any technology, you can use it for positive things, you can use it for negative,” Crompton said. “We want to show our students how to use it for the positive and let them be aware that we know these negatives. There are strategies to look around and be able to see whether they’re being used in those negative ways.”
Some of those negative ways include plagiarism or using the website to do your homework.
“The big problem about this for instructors is that students can go in and literally copy and paste the question from an instructor,” said Crompton.
However, the positives are there, too.
“I’m viewing it as a supplement, as a way to get students more engaged in a certain content area,” said Dr. O’Shan Gadsden, Psychology Department chair at Hampton University. “We just had a university-wide discussion about the utility and efficacy of Chat GPT last Thursday.”
He, like Crompton, is open to using new technology.
“This really has an opportunity to help students think outside of the box, but introduce them to content that they may have not had access to,” Gadsden said.
However, they both agree that changes need to be made and guardrails need to be implemented.
“Sometimes the factual information is antiquated, not correctly communicated, so I think there’s an opportunity for creators of this system to more fine tune content,” Gadsden said.
Said Crompton: “This is going to be one of those points in history that we look back to saying, that was the turning point in education…when we realized how close AI was to everything we do and how we’re going to have to work with it to kind of go forward, because its going to be there.”
Additionally, both professors agree that this technology will not lessen the importance of educators.
“This is by no way taking away from what an instructor can do,” Crompton said. “Technology will never replace what an educator can do, but it will certainly help us with what we’re doing.”
Both professors said they expect schools at all different levels to have guidelines in place for this type of technology. However, since it’s so new, it will take some time.
You can learn more about Chat GPT by clicking here.