Each of us creates 1.7Mb of data every second of every day. With over a billion websites, that’s 5 billion gigabytes of data out there! Harnessing a ton of this data, and grabbing all the headlines, ChatGPT uses proven open-source language processing to generate tailored text. It can answer questions and write essays. Quite the mic drop isn’t it?
But has the ChatGPT thunderbolt come from nowhere? Four years ago, I watched IBM and Bolton College demo their Chatbot for student advice, built on IBM Watson. Last year, analysts ListEdTEch noted 11 popular Chatbots being used regularly in Higher Education. This year, I’ve enjoyed Dr. Thomas Lancaster show students using Open AI’s GPT-3 language model to generate text for essays and assignments.
So, it’s been coming a while - but what’s the impact?
ChatGPT will destroy the grubby essay mill industry. This isn’t the blow-hard remark of a tech entrepreneur hawking faux-AI. Why should a student pay someone to churn out an assignment, at risk of blackmail and plagiarism, when they can easily use a tool yourself?
Exam owners face sun-setting the essay as a summative assessment instrument. That’s huge. Plagiarism detecting software companies will argue otherwise, but ChatGPT outruns them all.
Test developers and item writers have a reckoning. ChatGPT can write exam questions with minimal intervention. This isn’t shuffling the tech stack to gain operational test development savings – it’s genuine disruption – insert your own popcorn emoticon/ meme, and let’s see how tech suppliers react!
Academics will cling to virtuous-circle research that, incredibly, always asserts that essays are the ‘best’ way to assess students. Expect discombobulated assessment ‘experts’ deploying lots of wriggling, whataboutery, and clever-clever on social media!
ChatGPT is a rug-pull. No one likes their bubble bursting. But there’s good news. Here’s the big chance for exam owners to review the toolkit of 18 digitally-enabled, audit-embedded, and equitable assessment instruments. All available, ready, and lots of use cases. Or how about using ChatGPT as a practice and learning aid?
Confidence in essays is corroding, the ChatGPT thunderbolt brought a terminal vinegar flood. Because here’s what ChatGPT means. You can never set a summative/ open-book essay again, and keep fooling yourself of the response’s authenticity.
Write your questions with ChatGPT, and deploy subject matter experts as a final QA check. Get on board with all the different assessment instruments our sector offers. No amount of research or ideology will trump substantial real world usage. The game is up, change is uncomfortable. But from today, the assessment sector becomes stronger, fairer, and aligned with the real world.