From Where We Are

Professors respond to ChatGPT in the classroom

The artificial intelligence chat box is changing the way some professors approach class assignments.

ChatGPT home screen

ChatGPT is a chatbot fueled by artificial intelligence and quite a controversial topic. Whether you want the program to generate a 5 page paper on the history of the Peloponnesian War or a quick a guideline for how to break up with a fling over text, with ChatGPT all you have to do is fill in a prompt and minutes later your text is complete.

While ChatGPT might seem like a fun tool, educational institutions across the country – including the New York City Public school system and the Los Angeles Unified School District – have banned the program. I spoke with USC professors to get their perspective on use of the viral AI in the classroom.

USC writing professor Mark Marino believes that programs like ChatGPT might be unavoidable as a professor.

MARINO: It’s just it’s a reality. It’s a technology that’s out there in the world. And so now now we have to think about how it’s going to change the way writing happens.

But instead of rejecting the change, Marino’s philosophy is if you cant beat, join it.

MARINO: I am interested in exploring where this might take things. In my major seminar about digital writing. I’m interested in how we can use it as a creative tool.

Earlier in the semester, Marino invited his students to experiment with Chatbot programs by asking AI to write their first paper of the term and discussing the failures of the program, but overall, Marino has faith in professors working with – and not against technology in the classroom.

MARINO: It is also, I think, worth taking a deep breath and being confident in human’s ability to. Find ways to engage technology creatively and critically, and to take that engagement to come up with new things, new kinds of knowledge, new kinds of writing, and ones that that I think we have not yet dreamt

Jonathan May, a research associate in the computer science department at USC closely followed the rollout of Chabot programs. He explained that as of right now AI is not a substitute for authentic student work.

MAY: And I guarantee that a well thought out paper that’s coherent and like, you know, is actually trying to get at the heart of whatever is is being evaluated is not something that we’re going to see today or even in the next year.

May thinks that professors could potentially alter their curriculum to prevent students from abusing technology like ChatGPT.

MAY: There are cases where you do not want to allow tools when you’re trying to teach a particular skill that the tools are going to to replace. I would want maybe I would want to test that by having people like, write in on hand, you know, in class during a test for that, for that kind of that, that kind of thing.

Though overall, like Marino he is optimistic that artificial intelligence can be used as a tool for good.

MAY: I think having tools to spark ideas is is a good thing a good thing for us to be creative and and if we use them wisely and we use them correctly, like we don’t really have anything to fear about the death of humanity or the death of creativity. So I’m cautiously optimistic.

Just this week Microsoft and Google released their own AI chatbot programs, so it looks like this technology isn’t going anywhere soon.

For Annenberg media, I’m Cami Twomey.