Students, AI, cheating and gamification

Recently read an article titled “AI is making it extremely easy for students to cheat” on Wired (thanks to IE Business School’s professor, Enrique Dans) which set me into thinking about the relevance of traditional evaluation methodologies once again. It is everyday clearer that what we have been doing in the past doesn’t seem to be adequate for the future (probably not even the present in most cases). However, the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier for students to cheat under the current set of rules, it becomes an issue that is more pressing every day. Changing the rules to make them more strict and avoid the use of new tools might be a temporary solution, though certainly not optimal or lasting in time.

Another educational trend could have a part of the solution, related to the focus that has recently started on learning based on competencies. If we focus on what our students are capable of doing with their learning, instead of whether they are able of memorizing information, then we at least set the right path to solve this. To use an example from the article, it would not be to focus on whether our learners can solve an equation, but rather if they can use the results or the reasoning itself for some real life situation they could encounter. This sounds great (well, at least I think so!) on paper, but as usual, the devil could be in the details, or in this case in the practical implementation of these ideas. Once we get into thinking how to put this into practice, it becomes more difficult.

First consideration, the fact that it is difficult is by no means a good reason to stop ourselves from attacking a clear problem that we have identified! It is about the future and present of education, which is the basis for the near future of the world! Using Yu-kai Chou’s language, our Epic Meaning and Calling as professors, teachers, educators, trainers or the like. Which brings me to another consideration, which is the alternatives of either taking the quick route of making the rules more strict or even worse, leaving things as is. This is something we cannot permit ourselves, the quick fix will only last so long (and potentially hurt learning) and doing nothing could mean that with the evaluation becoming irrelevant, learners will have fewer reasons to stick to their learning and soon make the university, college and then school titles less and less relevant. If our quality seal says our alumni know this or that, but we cannot guarantee that with our evaluation, then the seal starts loosing sense.

As I’ve spoken before with Bernardo Letayf from Blue Rabbit, gamification could well become the alternative (we hope the mainstream in the near future) to evaluation. What if instead of asking students what is the date of a historic event or the result of a complicated financial calculation, we immersed them into an experience where this knowledge would be useful and used? What if we create an approach in which we could set targets of learning and applying it instead of giving memorized or mechanical answers that themselves don’t have a meaning? Using gamification we have the possibility of tapping into the motivations of students so they go along a learning experience where we actually guide them to learn. The role of educators remains central, with a different focus but with a more powerful capacity in course design and learner mentoring and coaching.

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