AI chatbot making waves in higher education

February, 2023

Even if you don't know much about it, you've probably heard of ChatGPT, an advanced AI chatbot that allows you to have human-like conversations. Since its launch three months ago it's gone viral

Created by OpenAI (founded by Elon Musk) and launched in November 2022 the software can:

  • answer questions
  • compose emails
  • write code
  • create recipes
  • produce song lyrics and poetry
  • write essays.

Users can ask ChatGPT any question and receive an AI generated response within seconds. What makes it unique is that this response will mimic the style and syntax of a human interaction, what's more the bot can remember previous exchanges recreating the flow of a human conversation.

So, how does it work? Well, the software is fed huge amounts of text from the internet to train it on how to respond to an array of questions. The technology behind ChatGPT has been harnessed by Microsoft in its Bing search engine and Google has a competitor called Bard.

It's undeniably an interesting development - just two months after its launch in January 2023 it had 100 million active users, but feedback on the software has been mixed. Some say if used correctly it can save time and increase productivity, while others have questioned the accuracy of its responses and say that its text output requires heavy editing and is incapable of providing in-text referencing.

Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT is making waves in the education sector and not for the right reasons. The obvious concern is that students will use the technology to cheat on essays, coursework and exams - as ChatGPT generates human-like text responses, how will teachers and lecturers know if it's been written by a bot? Because of this the software has been banned in schools in America and here in the UK universities are having to review how they detect plagiarism.

Now, we'd like to think you're an honest bunch, but if you're tempted to use ChatGPT for evil (by evil we mean asking it to write a university essay or assignment for you) we urge you to consider if it's worth the risk. Lecturers and tutors will be extra vigilant when marking work and will be on the lookout for anything that looks or feels suspicious. University departments are currently assessing the challenges this new piece of AI technology brings and as a result assessment methods may be changed or updated.

Make no mistake, using ChatGPT to compose pieces of writing for university assessments is cheating and if you’re accused of plagiarism the consequences can be severe.

You'll get much more from your university experience if the work you produce is your own. You'll also avoid the stress and worry of being caught out. If you need extra help when completing assignments speak to your lecturers or tutors or make an appointment with a university study advisor.

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