ChatGPT made the general public realize that computers are already quite capable of learning. But we have known that for at least 20 years: that it can be done and that one day there would also be an application that would suddenly wake everyone up. Behind the scenes at major tech companies, this has also been used for at least 20 years or so. The Alta Vista search engine – I used it pretty much from 1995 to 2001 – was one of the first publicly available search engines capable of “smart” algorithm-based search.
A major breakthrough
Like ChatGPT now, Alta Vista was a breakthrough at the time. The general public realized what it meant when you no longer needed a Winkeler Prince encyclopedia of 26 volumes in the closet to tell others how things are. What space that saved in the house. It also became clear that knowledge was not reserved for people who had studied or could afford a “Winkeler Prins. But, most importantly, as with ChatGPT, suddenly a large group of people are seeing the impact of technology.
Raging knowledge sharing
The funny thing is that, in many cases, students saw this much earlier than their teachers. They didn’t need a “teacher” or “Winkeler Prince” to tell them what you can do with ChatGPT. Students share this kind of knowledge at lightning speed on platforms. What also helps is an interface that helps them understand what it is and what it does. Such a progressing text that makes you think that something or someone is working for you to construct a piece of text that wasn’t already there. This further reinforces the function of and understanding about the chatbot.
Back to pen and paper?
The chatbot is getting better. And there will soon be more. Students are quickly finding even better ways to create texts. There will be chatbot plagiarism recognition software. So there will be a “race” first. But of course, that’s not a solution to a problem we don’t yet have a clear understanding of. A typical Pavlov reaction, though. Of course, it would also not be surprising if the chatbots themselves come up with some kind of plagiarism solution. Or that we should have students show up via a body scan in a room containing prepared devices with which nothing can be done other than taking a test or writing an essay? Or is pen and paper perhaps the solution?
Repression solves nothing
They remain palliatives. Because what exactly is the problem? Surely the problem cannot be that students are getting smarter? Or that technological advances are being made that are in themselves fairly innocuous? Or is the problem that the testing system by which we try to grasp reality is not up to par? Or should we face the fact that this is reality? And that we need to further strengthen the elements that make our education valuable? A professional teaching a student how to perform an action. Or coaching. Or standing by and giving feedback. And that we can use artificial intelligence and chatbots to help us just fine. For example, to help us with the question “what is good feedback?”. Or can we also let smart technology help us value or classify written feedback?
Leveraging advancing technology
At Scorion, we are busy working on the latter. To look at how we can leverage the vast amount of data being collected to benefit education. Together with universities and colleges, we are exploring how we can leverage advancing technology in this way.