Since its release at the end of 2022, we have seen widespread uptake of and engagement with ChatGPT (the free version) and GPT-4 (included in the updated and subscription version) in many sectors. It was clear right from the start that this powerful AI chatbot will have far-reaching implications for education in general and for higher education in particular. Some commentators from within the university sector went so far as to say that the new generation of “Generative AI” (of which ChatGPT forms one exponent) will necessarily lead to a fundamental rethinking of the nature of learning and the way we engage with knowledge, not only in learning programmes, but also in professions and in work sectors.
Both students and lecturers are currently experimenting with the various Generative AI chatbots (and other applications) that are becoming available. Many opinion pieces and articles on specific aspects of matters regarding teaching, learning and assessment are appearing in popular and professional journals.
Some universities quickly developed institutional positions on ChatGPT or internal guidelines for academics and students. Some developed internal workshops or seminars, often including an outside public. We can expect to see more activity in this space in the near future.
A recent whitepaper by a group of academics from a number of German universities provides an insightful overview of the nature of the technology in ChatGPT and related applications: H. Gimpel et al., Unlocking the Power of Generative AI Models and Systems such as GPT-4 and ChatGPT for Higher Education. A Guide for Students and Lecturers. 2023. This whitepaper was developed under the leadership of the University of Hohenheim.
Apart from the overview of where Generative AI fits on the scene of digital developments, the whitepaper provides
- concrete examples and guidance for students and lecturers to find their way with ChatGPT and other similar tools, including guidelines on prompting (which is a new skill to be developed by users of such tools); and
- perspectives that can inform “the more extensive organizational sensemaking processes on embracing and enclosing large language models or related tools in higher education” (from the Executive Summary).
In all of these categories, the guidance is structured in the form of a number of clearly formulated recommendations.
The comprehensive view taken in the whitepaper makes is useful for a wide audience of users in higher education: lecturers, students and higher education managers alike.
The whitepaper can be downloaded from Researchgate or from http://opus.uni-hohenheim.de/volltexte/2023/2146/.