“The new chapter in life, a fresh start, a clean slate”—that’s how everyone pictures the beginning of the new academic year, and it’s with these exact words that they meet the fall semester. Yale students will be embarking on a new journey together with ChatGPT.
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- Yale University is proactively integrating ChatGPT into education, focusing on guidance rather than bans.
- The university addresses the root causes of cheating, like stress, rather than banning tools like ChatGPT.
- Yale emphasizes student privacy and ethical considerations when using AI technologies.
Last year’s sensation – ChatGPT – is coming back to classrooms together with students in many schools and colleges. While some institutions are banning any AI writers and changing their syllabi, others are embracing new technology. Jenny Frederick, the associate provost at Yale University, shared Yale’s approach to ChatGPT.
Learning Goals in the Age of AI
The Yale University never considered banning ChatGP. Instead, it wants to work with it. According to Jenny:
“Just because a machine can do something doesn’t mean it should replace human learning.”
For example, we all learn long division despite calculators being able to do it. She pointed out that this isn’t a new dilemma. She mentioned a calculus professor on her advisory board who said mathematicians have been dealing with machines doing calculations for decades. The key is to think deeply about what we want students to learn, especially if it’s something a machine can also do.
Jenny made it clear that Yale never thought about banning ChatGPT. Instead, she got her team together to offer guidance. They created resources for teachers to understand how AI, like ChatGPT, can be relevant to their courses. There’s no set policy in place; they encourage an environment of exploration and learning.
The concern about students using ChatGPT to cheat exists, but Jenny thinks the issue goes deeper.
“Using ChatGPT to cheat is less of a concern than what led to the cheating.”
She believes students cheat when they are overwhelmed or mismanage their time. Rather than focusing on banning the tool, she says, let’s help students avoid situations that push them to cheat in the first place.
“The students in general are way ahead of the faculty. They’ve grown up in a world where new technologies are coming and going, and they’re trying things out.”
According to Jenny, students are often more tech-savvy than their teachers. They’re already using ChatGPT and want to know how to use it responsibly. She suggests that teachers should not only catch up but also consult with their students on how best to integrate these tools into the classroom.
Jenny did bring up concerns about privacy. Every time students interact with ChatGPT, they contribute data that makes the tool smarter. This brings up ethical questions, especially since Yale has strict data management policies. She emphasized the need to be responsible for student’s safety and privacy while using these kinds of technologies.
“I think people have been a little worried, rightly so. Students may be putting their privacy at risk.”
AI isn’t going away. It’s going to be a part of various industries. So, students need to be prepared for a world that integrates AI into everyday life. Teachers, too, need to get comfortable with this reality.
Yale’s approach is not about shunning new technology but integrating it wisely into the educational landscape. They hope to make the most of what tools like ChatGPT can offer by focusing on thoughtful exploration rather than outright bans.
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