Sunday, October 1, 2023

Chat GPT is changing the way colleges look at online learning


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Story by Elisha Nelson

Graphic by Kailee Shores

Plagiarism and cheating in classrooms, no matter how common, is difficult to get away with a Scantron and a number two pencil. But what happens when students can find their answers outside of the classroom?

Students were outside of the classroom all of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic forced them attend school in their bedrooms. Teachers were concerned by the potential widespread cheating that could happen behind the screens, but with students back in their classrooms, some of those worries subsided. 

Now enter Chat GPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot that has the answer to all questions. At least, that is what some college professors and teachers fear. Chat GPT, launched in November 2022 by OpenAI has made its way to college campuses and infiltrated MTSU. 

Students are using the advanced artificial intelligence to answer questions about anything from how to ride a bike to how to give a life changing performance at the opera. What happens when A.I. is so advanced that it can answer exam questions?

That is the concern of some educators. Some in the Computer Science major seem to view it as a tool rather than a path to cheating.

“I think it is a good way for those who haven’t necessarily gotten their answers from the chatbot and just used it to assist answers, or to verify what answer you already have. Professors that I have been students of have not seen an issue with it beyond allowing it to assist us with our work,” said an anonymous senior in the computer science major.

Chatbot AI can be utilized to generate creative ideas as opposed to handing students the answers.  “I like to use it to generate ideas for topics but nothing as far as letting a chatbot completing the assignment for me.” 

Computer science majors are encouraged to use AI technology in their work by using DALL-E, a learning model developed by OpenAI that generates digital images based on the provided description. Students who type the desired description will receive an AI generated image that emulates it. “There is a lot of AI generation students are able to use,” said one student. “In one of my classes I was tasked with creating art for the project through the way of describing what I wanted drawn to the AI and it can come up with all kinds of concepts that would be difficult to illustrate otherwise.” 

Concepts that are difficult to execute can be taken advantage of with this new AI, where typing “ideas for a movie involving vampires and Las Vegas” can generate complex and detailed results, opening up a world of possibilities for students who could be given an edge in more creativity-driven fields like art. 

An unnamed professor gave their opinion on the subject as far as how comfortable they were letting students use it. “If a large amount of people are relying it to complete their tasks, no one is going to rely on their own creativity. It is growing in influence fast in the world of AI.”

Another anonymous computer science major said that professors and other campus leaders have the wrong idea of Chat GPT. “I think professors are having to adjust to how it is being used. It can help with not only code but finishing essays as well. It can also be convincingly wrong with some of its output.” 

Some institutions such as Washington University and the University of Vermont have implemented a Chat GPT ban, making students who use the technology in violation of the academic integrity policy. 

It may not all be bad however, as many students have found the chatbot useful. Students are using the A.I. to help them in their work when necessary, even just us a tool. “It’s more like it’s not like students have been cheating with it. It’s more like everyone knows what it is kind of thing,” said a sophomore Computer Science student. “Some of them are definitely using it to cheat, but I would not say it is a significant number of students.”

Turnitin, a plagiarism detection service used by thousands of institutions to detect plagiarized work by students, has a 97 percent detection rate for assignments that use Chat GPT, combating the risk the chatbot has of disrupting integrity of students. 

“I like to use it as a personal tutor, as it responds to programming questions and can provide complex answers. Unless you understand the subject matter very well, it will lead you to the wrong conclusions.”

There is the chance as the AI becomes more advanced that it becomes a one-size-fits-all solution for generating answers to homework. As AI is introduced into the world of problem-solving, it will only grow to be more advanced to understand further complex problems. Chat GPT may be a useful and fun tool for productivity as well as creativity, but it seems it could be growing in influence at a much faster pace than it is growing in transparency.

Elisha Nelson is a contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Kailee Shores and Assistant News Editor Alyssa Williams, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter and Instagram at @mtsusidelines.

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