School boards and at least one college in Hamilton and surrounding areas are on high alert for any students trying to cheat using a new artificial intelligence tool called ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is a chat software that uses massive databases to generate original, human-sounding responses to prompts from users.
While it doesn’t always produce correct answers, the tool has gained some notoriety as some people have used it to write essays and other assignments almost instantly.
“It is something we’ve seen at the college but at this point it would be difficult to speak to trends,” said Niagara College Canada spokesperson Michael Wales.
“We do know that AI [artificial intelligence] technology being used this way is something that’s happening across the post-secondary sector … We’ve started to work with our faculty — providing resources and development — to build understanding of the technology and its impact on academic integrity.”
The college is one of numerous local education institutions implementing training or measures to prevent students from using the tool.
School boards educating staff about AI tool
Hamilton’s public school board said ChatGPT is currently blocked on all Board devices and within Wi-Fi networks to restrict use for students and staff.
“As we have experienced in the past with emerging technologies, we are monitoring the use of ChatGPT as it relates to the education sector, but we are not in a position to give further comment on its use at this time,” said Shawn McKillop, spokesperson for Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
Niagara Catholic District School Board said it’s aware of the “growing popularity” of ChatGPT and “shares the concerns of other school boards of its use among students in our schools.”
“Staff will continue to monitor ChatGPT, particularly at the intermediate and secondary level, to ensure that if this new technology is being used, it is being used in a way that supports learning in a positive, meaningful way,” said spokesperson Jennifer Pellegrini.
Hamilton’s Catholic school board said it is in the “very early awareness stages” of the tool.
“We have presentations scheduled with our curriculum team, school administration and teachers over the next several weeks,” said Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board chair Pat Daly, adding the board isn’t promoting the app.
Daly said staff can mitigate the use of the tool by moving culminating assignments and exams into the classroom and assigning less homework.
“There is also some concern about user agreements,” he said. These include: users have to be older than 13, and where all of the data that is generated with Chat GPT is stored.
Grand Erie District School Board said it is exploring the pros and cons of technology like ChatGPT.
WATCH: Students share their thoughts about ChatGPT and AI tools for assignments
Brock University, McMaster University, Mohawk College, Niagara’s public school board didn’t respond before deadline.
This all comes as the creator of ChatGPT launched a tool — AI Text Classifier — on Tuesday to help educators detect someone used artificial intelligence to complete an assignment.
OpenAI cautions that its new tool may not catch everyone who uses artificial intelligence.
The method for detecting AI-written text “is imperfect and it will be wrong sometimes,” said Jan Leike, head of OpenAI’s alignment team tasked to make its systems safer.
“Because of that, it shouldn’t be solely relied upon when making decisions,” Leike said.
OpenAI is also launching a paid version of ChatGPT in the US that will cost $20 a month.