Written by Amanda Longhenry
In the era of rapidly advancing technology, artificial intelligence (AI), a field of study that combines the applications of machine learning, algorithm productions, and natural language processing, has emerged as a powerful tool with profound implications for various aspects of society, including education. As with most technology, there are both positive and negative effects of its usage. Specifically in the realm of education, many students take advantage of AI through personalized learning, VR and AR, and unethical usage to cheat on assignments.
Personalized learning is a type of education that tailors its methods of instruction to meet a student’s individual needs. In universities, it is not uncommon for classes to exceed 50 students making it difficult for professors to effectively teach every single student in their class. Students come from diverse backgrounds and possess varying learning speeds and abilities. Therefore, pacing can become an issue for students in academic settings, hence the rising popularity of personalized learning: Adaptive learning platforms can analyze data on students' performance and provide customized content, pacing, and feedback to optimize their learning process.
However, since chatbots, such as the popular ChatGPT, are fairly early in their development, these technologies can generate completely wrong answers. Anecdotally, upon using ChatGPT to answer university-level computer science questions, the bot confidently claimed wrong answers. That being said, chatbot users should be cautious of the answers received from them. Alternatively, it might be better to seek a human tutor that has mastered these complex concepts.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, defined as “reality technologies that either enhance or replace a real-life environment with a simulated one” by Splunk, is beginning to become affected by AI. Stanford researchers have begun integrating AI in VR and AR to help improve the quality and realism of VR and AR displays by using neural networks to generate holograms, reduce distortions, and simulate physics. These technologies are slowly making their way into educational settings to enrich students’ learning experiences. For example, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine medical students in Singapore have implemented the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 to learn about the human body using mixed reality. The use of AI-enhanced VR and AR are far-reaching, having the potential to advance numerous fields of study.
AI and chatbots are powerful tools that can generate text, code, images and other types of content based on a given prompt. However, these tools can also be used unethically in university settings, especially leading to academic misconduct. It's important to note that these examples describe potential misuse of AI technology and are not encouraged or endorsed. Given that chatbots are easily accessible and easy to use, there have been several cases of academic misconduct through the use of chatbots such as ChatGPT such as its use to write entire essays given a prompt.
That being said, the decision to ban chatbots is a controversial one. There have been cases of professors embracing the new technology and incorporating it into their curriculum. However, there are several institutions that have enacted a ban on chatbots in order to protect academic honesty. Many other schools are split on the idea hoping to find some sort of a middle ground to enable their students with technology and information without creating an increase in academic dishonesty.