Half-listening to the news on BBC Radio 4 this morning, I was jerked to full attention during the regular quick look at the front pages of today’s UK newspapers. The Times has a front-page report declaring that the International Baccalaureate (IB) allowing students to use artificial intelligence to help them write their essays as long as they credit the AI used.
News to me!
Quick checks: the BBC News website includes front-page views of today’s newspapers (for a limited time only, possibly for copyright reasons). I took a screengrab.
The headline reads: Exams body lets pupils use AI chatbot to write essays.
The Times website carries the story as well – unfortunately behind a paywall, and The Times is not a newspaper to which I subscribe.
A quick Google check for [artificial intelligence international baccalaureate] – using the News feature and limiting the search to the last week found just one mention of the story –
the story in today’s The Times. There are several stories of students being punished for using artificial intelligence, even in IB schools.
Checks on the open IB website and in the closed-access My IB find no mention of this. It looks as if The Times has a world exclusive! (The thought that the newspaper had fallen victim to a hoax crossed my mind.)
Having bought a print copy of the newspaper, I wonder about the accuracy of the headline Exams body lets pupils use AI chatbot to write essays – that “lets” may be a trifle misleading. It implies that the IB already allows students to use AI in their work for assessment. The second paragraph states
International Baccalaureate IB) ... has said children will be allowed to quote from work generated by the AI chatbot in their essays, as long as they give it credit and do not plagiarise.
That is slightly different, “will be allowed…” is looking to the future, not necessarily immediately.
The article goes on to quote “Matt Glanville, head of assessment principles and practice at IB” declaring that AI is a tool, “like spell-checkers, translation software and calculators, we must accept that it is going to become part of our everyday lives” – and we need to learn how to use AI tools ethically. There is also a suggestion that essays will become less important because other skills will become more important, including “understanding if the essay is any good or if it has missed context, has used bias data or if it is lacking in credibility.”
Which is what a lot of us are already doing with AI output.
Citing ChatGPT or Bard as our sources, though, that I =feel less happy about. Using them as a springboard, possibly, but verifying the output and citing sources far more reliable – and nearer the original source – is still very necessary.
As with this Times story, as with this Times headline.