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Will ChatGPT shake up higher education in India?

Embrace and integrate AI as a complementary tool, or else existing education systems will become obsolete and inefficient.


Will ChatGPT shake up higher education in India?
Representative Image. Credit- AFP File Photo

When an Open AI chatbot and a large-scale neural-network-based language model came together, ChatGPT was born.


The Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) is programmed on vast amounts of text data, which is typically an Artificial Intelligence tool that uses a data set to recognise specific patterns and arrive at conclusions. Natural Language Processing generates human-like text with an add-on of Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback.



AI Learning Experience

AI has the potential to revolutionise today’s learning practices and systems. AI enhances the motivation and participation of learners, which is an encouragement to autodidactic (self-directed learning (SDL)) learners. This increases learners' autonomy, whereby there is personalised support, convenient and flexible learning, real-time feedback, self-assessment, and reflection.


SDL is the method where the learner learns independently, without an instructor’s guidance. SDL helps learners to be effective in learning and better social beings. SDL relies on the autonomy and independence of the learner to drive their own learning process and is often characterised by the use of open educational resources. SDL allows learners to take control of their own learning and development, at their own pace, tailored to their individual needs and goals.



ChatGPT It

Earlier if it was ‘Google It’, now it has become ‘ChatGPT It’, and this has started worrying academic institutions.


Many universities and colleges have banned the usage of ChatGPT, and have even issued warnings against those who use it for academic purposes. Some institutions have even informed students that they will be asked to reproduce the content at any time, and disciplinary steps would be taken if there are differences in the submissions. Publishers of many journals have banned researchers from using the contributions of this AI chatbot in academic research.


On one side, tools such as ChatGPT gives learners or students an interactive answer, but it is hampering the critical and logical thinking of its users (particularly students). Recruiters would be looking for students who have the power and skill to think in a logical manner, rather than blindly lap up the output of such AI tools.



AI Limitations

Educators will need to rethink the way they assess learning outcomes. There could be integrity challenges where students use ChatGPT to cheat on assignments or even exams. Moreover, there could be accuracy issues as well, since ChatGPT’s knowledge is restricted to global events that occurred before 2021.

Too much dependence on the AI tool will kill the problem-solving and decision-making skills of students, which, in turn, may impact their ability to succeed in the workforce. Thinking beyond the horizons, based on existing parameters, is how a person builds up creativity. AI tools can generate a long list of ideas, but only thinkers with creativity can identify the correct solution, within the given opportunities.


Creating a solution which is future-oriented will not be possible by AI, as it requires predictions of how people will respond to a specific incident or process. Since these AI tools are based on the data they draw on, they have built-in biases which even lead to unethical decisions being made.



GIGO

It is very important to assess what is just and what is unjust, and accordingly set boundaries on the usage of AI tools. Ethics needs to be a core skill when AI tools are used for education and learning.


While some publishers have banned the usage of the bot in the preparation of the manuscript, others see its adoption as inevitable. Some legitimate usage of ChatGPT has led it to co-author research papers. However, unless there is proper scrutiny by publishers on research papers, there could be misinformation and junk science coming out as the bot works on information (good or bad) fed into the system.



The Way Ahead

Though ChatGPT may be a threat to education, there are multiple ways in which it can be put to good use.

Routine repetitive tasks can be automated and the time saved can be put to better use. Personalised learning experiences can be created. Personalised tutoring and support can be offered to students. Researchers can use AI bots to process large volumes of data and generate conclusions and ideas which will speed up research and nurture innovation. Educators can generate content for teaching which can save time, allowing teachers to focus on more important tasks such as teaching and research.



Embrace and integrate AI as a complementary tool, or else existing education systems will become obsolete and inefficient. Tasks and evaluation techniques should be creatively redesigned to reduce the potential for AI-generated submissions.


Educators should become learning facilitators as universities redefine learning outcomes, focussing on the skills.


AI and Machine Learning call for a revolutionary change in education where the whole system must go in for a 360-degree transformation. It's important to note that the use of ChatGPT in higher education should be implemented with caution, and with appropriate safeguards to ensure that it is being used ethically, and responsibly.


(Ranjana Mary Varghese is Associate Dean, Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship, Kochi.)


The views expressed are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of US.


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