Not all New Zealand universities have turned on plagiarism tool Turnitin’s new artificial intelligence capability; as they say, risks remain.
The University of Auckland has decided against the technology for now.
“Detection is at best a short-term, partial solution and should not be relied upon, as detection methods are not 100% accurate and will be constantly evolving in the ‘arms race’ between ChatGPT and emerging detection tools,” a spokesperson for the university said in a statement.
Like most universities in Aotearoa, Auckland University said staff need to consider how AI technology can be used as part of student learning.
“Staff are looking at modifying assessment questions and structure, so it is more difficult and complex for AI tools like ChatGPT to produce acceptable responses.
“They are also encouraged to consider using more low-stakes, in-person assessments that place importance on the process of producing work, not the product, and a range of in-person assessment opportunities, such as presentations, podcasts, interviews, group work, etc,” the spokesperson stated.
Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago are also not using Turnitin’s AI capability as university evaluation of the technology has not taken place.
The University of Canterbury and Massey University are using the tool, calling it just one part of their academic integrity process, while the University of Waikato is using the technology while testing it. Auckland University of Technology isn’t using the tool but is considering it.
Turnitin has developed the tool to detect 98% of writing created by artificial intelligence such as Chat GPT, the business says.
Turnitin Asia Pacific Regional President James Thorley said artificially-created content is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but so is the need for ensuring honesty in learning institutes.
“I don’t ever see a place where people are not wanting to uphold academic integrity, and that will incorporate many aspects, including detection and potentially other matters,” he said.
Victoria University of Wellington software engineering senior lecturer Dr Simon McCallum said detection is a challenge as artificial intelligence developments are making writing more “human-like”.
“The new systems are coming along so quickly that any detection you come up with is almost obsolete once you release it.”
McCallum is urging academics and the Government to equip themselves with an understanding of AI developments and consider how the technology will change multiple sectors and day-to-day life.
“I think there is a role for the Government to take this change very seriously and use it as part of an assessment of what we are trying to do with our education system, what is the objective of our education system, and start funding that transition because if we are going to keep up we need to have that resource, we need to spend that time,” he said.
McCallum said he’s never seen this rate of improvement in AI before.
“The challenge it presents universities is enormous, and I mean, it’s something that we are struggling with,” he said.
He thinks universities and high schools should close temporarily so educators have time to workshop how their lessons and assignments should change as a result of AI development.
“The students are racing ahead of them, and if you’re in an arms race, being behind and falling further behind is just going to make things much, much worse.”
Massey University’s decided to counter cheating during online exams through a webcam monitoring system called Remote Proctor Now.
The majority of exams at the university are now held online.
“Due to the emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown periods, it was necessary to utilise RPNow on a large scale sooner than planned in order to meet student needs,’ a spokesperson for the university said in a statement.”
Some students have concerns about the rollout of the technology, and student association leaders are running a student survey to hear more from them.
“Our students have raised lots of concerns about not actually knowing where their data and information is getting sent to since the only information we have is that it’s getting sent offshore,” Te Tira Ahu Pae Pasifika President Aniva-Storm Feau said.
Other issues raised include accessibility to laptops, webcams and quiet spaces to sit exams and concern for how neurodiverse students may be penalised by the software which alerts the university when a student looks away from the screen.
The university stated several small trials of Remote Proctor Now since 2014 were responded to with positive feedback from students.
“Notably, students liked being able to sit an exam in their own environment,” the spokesperson said.
“In most cases, a student will be flagged for looking away from the screen or if another person is heard or visible during the exam. It is highly unlikely this would be the only activity taken into consideration.”
The statement also said trained reviewers oversee recordings and are “professionally handled”.
The university stated it will provide alternatives for students who require equipment, and financial hardship grants may also be available to students.