The University of Washington (UW) is providing guidance to its faculty on how to navigate the impact of ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot released by OpenAI last fall, on education. The UW’s Center for Teaching and Learning has issued strategies for instructors to help them communicate with students, set expectations, and develop assignments in the age of ChatGPT and other AI-based tools.

The center’s strategies are broken into several areas: setting clear policies for the use of AI in specific courses, communicating the importance of college learning, assessing a student’s process of learning as much as (or more than) the outcome, acknowledging that the struggle is part of learning, and considering teaching through AI-based tools.

The guidelines attempt to balance the benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence, addressing the logistical and ethical challenges of AI while recognizing that technology be “a vital part of advancing knowledge”. However, the center also emphasizes that instructors who prohibit the use of AI-based tools such as ChatGPT, and suspect that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, can make a report to Community Standards and Student Conduct.

AI-based tools like ChatGPT “have the potential to either advance learning or shortchange students”, according to UW spokesperson Victor Balta. He added that “our instructors are exploring how AI-based tools can be used to facilitate learning and help students think critically about digital literacy and the accuracy of information.”

While the constant evolution of ChatGPT can make usage of the tool difficult to detect, the UW says faculty are paying careful attention and believe some students are using the tool to complete their work. The bot builds on existing natural language technology developed by OpenAI, the San Francisco-based company backed by Microsoft, whose cloud computing platform powers the back-end for OpenAI products.

As AI causes a “huge shift” in teaching and learning across the country, educators at all levels are reacting. Some educators are redesigning courses to stay ahead of the technology, while others are banning ChatGPT on all school devices. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently addressed concerns about new wave of plagiarism in schools, saying that AI will require everyone to adapt.

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