How are Colleges and Universities Responding to ChatGPT?

Written by Amy Blitchok
Published on February 26, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

How are Colleges and Universities Responding to ChatGPT?

Written by Amy Blitchok
Published on February 26, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

The increasing popularity of the AI tool ChatGPT is receiving mixed reactions from educators. While some embrace it as just the latest evolution in education and an opportunity to adapt, others fear that it will mean rampant cheating and the end of the college essay. Here is a closer look at the issue at hand and the debate.

On November 30th, 2022, the company OpenAI, backed by Microsoft, launched ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer). By December 3, it had surpassed 1 million users. As of February 8th, 2023, there are more than 100 million users. This rapid growth has educators worried that students will use the technology to cheat, and colleges and universities are scrambling to figure out what this means and how to react.

ChatGPT has tremendous capabilities. It can do anything from composing music and writing essays to debugging software and answering test questions. All you have to do is input a question or a prompt, and it will provide you with output. While this is impressive, ChatGPT certainly has limitations and is known to produce incorrect answers that still sound authoritative. However, it will only improve over time as it has more interactions. 

Eventually, AI will advance to the point where it won’t need humans to input information to learn. It will be able to teach itself. And with access to the entire internet, it’s safe to say that it’s already smarter than most students.

You can no longer give take-home exams/homework … Even on specific questions that involve combining knowledge across domains, the OpenAI chat is frankly better than the average MBA at this point. It is frankly amazing.

Both Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Vermont are responding by rewriting their academic integrity policies to also cover plagiarism using AI. However, this approach still relies on the idea of academic honesty, and there are few ways to actually detect whether an essay was written by ChatGPT. The professor may notice some irregularities, or they could compound the use of technology by deploying AI-detecting software, but that just creates an extra step for educators. 

Other professors are responding by completely changing the way they teach.

Across the country, university professors …, department chairs and administrators are starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, prompting a potentially huge shift in teaching and learning. Some professors are redesigning their courses entirely, making changes that include more oral exams, group work and handwritten assessments in lieu of typed ones.

While some are a bit panicked about what ChatGPT means for higher education, others are excited about the possibilities. It certainly isn’t the first time educators have had to adapt, and it won’t be the last. Writers and educators Chris Gilliard and Pete Rorabaugh have drawn a parallel to when social media first entered the classroom. Instead of a distraction, it was a tool that connected students in real-time with people outside the classroom. When properly leveraged, different social media platforms have become valuable learning tools. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t really any time to have a debate about the role of AI in the classroom in order to develop an intentional response. ChatGPT is here and for now, it is still free to use. This means that the vast majority of colleges and universities have been caught flat-footed. 

But ChatGPT isn’t all doom and gloom when it comes to higher education. When I asked ChatGPT “How will Chat GPT affect colleges and universities?”, this is the response it generated, and it highlights some positive implications.

ChatGPT has the potential to significantly impact colleges and universities in a number of ways, including:

ChatGPT can be used to provide personalized learning experiences to students in colleges and universities. By analyzing data on students' interactions with the system, ChatGPT can adapt to provide content that is most effective for each individual student.
ChatGPT can help students access a wider range of information than might be available through traditional classroom learning. By tapping into online resources, ChatGPT can help students explore new topics and gain a deeper understanding of the material.
ChatGPT can be used by researchers to analyze large amounts of data quickly and accurately. This can help speed up the research process and lead to new discoveries and innovations.
ChatGPT can be used to support distance learning initiatives. By providing personalized feedback and support to students, ChatGPT can help bridge the gap between students and instructors who are not physically present in the same location.
ChatGPT can be used to automate administrative tasks, such as answering student questions, scheduling appointments, and providing information on university policies and procedures.


Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to transform the way colleges and universities operate and deliver education. By providing personalized learning experiences, improving access to information, and supporting research, ChatGPT can help colleges and universities better meet the needs of their students and staff.”

Not bad for a robot.

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