OSWEGO N.Y. – SUNY Oswego students came back this semester with a new section to look over in the syllabus.
“I knew it was coming but it’s still weird to see,” said SUNY Oswego student Zoe Freightenburgh.
Some syllabuses now have sections that acknowledge the existence of artificial intelligence used in the classroom.
With the rise of chat-based artificial intelligence programs like Chat GPT, the question is how it should be applied in classes. For SUNY Oswego professor Ulises Mejias, the answer was always clear.
“Students are going to encounter this tool in their professional careers, so I might as well try to guide them a little bit on how to use it responsibly,” said Mejias.
This semester is the first with new guidelines for Mejias’s syllabus on how to handle the use of artificial intelligence.
“As long as it’s used properly I definitely think it can help,” said Mejias.
Mejias allows chatbots to an extent. For assignments, students are allowed to use sites like Chat GPT as long as it does not exceed more than 10 percent of the total length of the assignment.
“You have to indicate what parts were written by AI by using different colored fonts. I ask students to use purple,” said Meijas.
As of now, no SUNY-wide policy addresses artificial intelligence usage in universities. It’s on the professors to decide if AI is allowed for assignments. But professors are wondering how long before SUNY says something.
“There’s nothing written yet, and there’s nothing available yet, I think they are just starting to form committees,” said Mejias.
Mejias believes that Chat GPT helps promote further academic thought.
“I think it can be a great tool for instance to generate great topics on particular subjects,” said Mejias.
He also recognizes its flaws.
“I think right now the temptation is too great, you can tell it to write an essay on this topic and turn it in as your own,” said Mejias.
And just because you tell it what to write, don’t always expect the right information.
“One of the problems of Chat GPT is that it’s designed to give you an answer. Sometimes it doesn’t really care if the information it is giving you is accurate or not accurate, as long as it gives you an answer, that’s what matters to it,” said Mejias.
Chat GPT scours the internet looking for the most precise way to answer a question you want answered, but with the abundance of information online, chatbots have a hard time determining what is fact and what is fiction.
“Students need to be aware that they need to fact-check what information they were given by Chat GPT because it doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurate,” said Mejias.
And on top of that, he also recognizes that Chat GPT can be used for malicious purposes.
“Unfortunately, I have had instances where I have had students who have used it to cheat,” said Mejias.
Because of that, some professors do not want to see artificial intelligence in classes just yet. In the political science department, some professors have been skeptical.
At least one syllabus from the political science department shows a distrust towards the use of artificial intelligence in academia.
This isn’t a new trend either. In the past, academic settings tended to resist new technologies entering the classroom for fear of repercussions.
“Teaching, in particular, is a profession that is very sensitive to change. I mean if we go back all the way to Plato, people would complain about writing, saying it would corrupt young people’s minds,” said Mejias.
Students see AI as a new resource, something that will help give a good foundation for the bigger picture.
“It’s just another tool in a toolbox. If you’re letting it do all the work for you, you might wanna reconsider your major,” said Freightenburgh.
By allowing Chat GPT into the classroom Mejias hopes to foster a positive relationship between students and Chat GPT. So is it working?
“I think it’s too early to tell, maybe at the end of the semester I will ask for student input but as of now, it’s too early to call,” said Mejias.