Webinar: Exploring the Impacts of Text Generating Technologies on Academic Integrity

March 12, 2021

Academic Integrity webinar series

Join us for our final webinar in our Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics series hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. I’ll be hosting two incredible presenters who are experts in Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) technology. Ryan Morrison and Michael Mindzak will wrap up our series with a truly emerging topic that #academicintegrity advocates, scholars, and practitioners will want to know about.

Session Description

Natural language processing (NLP) has advanced rapidly in recent years, to the point where algorithms can now generate focused texts that are increasingly indistinguishable from human writing. OpenAI’s Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) has been at the forefront of these developments, with major implications for language-based assessment from Kindergarten to postgraduate levels.

With this technology becoming publicly available in January 2021, educators will have to readily confront some difficult realities regarding the assessment and evaluation of critical writing and the nature of both plagiarism and authorship.

Beyond GPT-3, there are other text and research generating technologies on the horizon which embolden the impetus for educators and researchers to reconsider the definition of academic integrity.

In this webinar, attendees will explore a short history of text generators, examples of GPT-3 generated texts, and possible ideas and approaches to addressing these technologies practice.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the current state of algorithmic writing
  • Interpret the impact that text generating technology will have on academic integrity
  • Generate ideas and approaches to addressing the problematic impacts through curriculum design

Facilitators: Ryan Morrison and Dr. Michael Mindzak, PhD
Date: Friday, April 9, 2021
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Mountain time (Please convert to your local time zone)
Location: Online via Zoom

Space is limited and registration is required. Register here.

Please note: This workshop will be recorded, registration will close on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent to you the morning of the workshop.

Presenters

Ryan Morrison (M. Ed. (IT), TESL) is an English language and Communications professor with the Centre of Preparatory and Liberal Studies at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Fulfilling the role of an educational technologist within the school, outside of the classroom, he investigates trends like AI and digital tools for 21st century education.

Michael Mindzak (PhD) is an educator and educational researcher interested in the intersections of work, schooling and society. More specifically, his research focuses on educational policy issues, the sociology of work, as well as technology in the contemporary period. He works in the Faculty of Education, Brock University, Canada.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.

 


Microsoft’s new “Rewrite” feature: A challenge to academic integrity?

April 20, 2020

Microsoft has just announced a new feature in Word: “Rewrite”. Microsoft shared details of the feature in this blog post last Friday.  The feature is designed to provide “sentence-level suggestions” to help users improve their writing. Microsoft reports that, “This feature is powered by cutting-edge, neural-network, machine learning models, which are trained on millions of sentences.” Zhang Li of Microsoft writes that the new feature:

Improves fluency: These suggestions aim to improve the flow of the wording, including mechanics like grammar and spelling.

Concise phrasing: The goal of these suggestions is to express an idea clearly, without extra words.
Paraphrased sentence: These suggestions offer synonyms for alternative wording.

Improves readability: The goal of these suggestions is to make the writing easier to read for people with different reading abilities. In general, suggestions will include shorter, simpler wording.”

Reading through the blog post comments, users are anticipating this will replace services such as Grammarly. People in the tech world are already calling it a “game changer”.

From an academic integrity perspective, it certainly could change the game. Drastically. Scholars such as Ann Rogerson and Grace McCarthy started publishing articles about the impact of paraphrasing software a few years ago. Their article “Using Internet based paraphrasing tools: Original work, patchwriting or facilitated plagiarism” prompts us to consider how paraphrasing software impacts our notion of writing, plagiarism and “originality”.

Microsoft reports that the new feature is currently only available in English and requires a subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

My prediction is that this new feature will change writing as much as spell check has, but in ways that are infinitely more complex. Spell check offers suggestions on individual words. Grammar check highlights possible grammar errors. A feature designed to re-write entire sentences has the potential to shift writing in significant new ways.

This may challenge our notions of “original writing” in ways we cannot yet predict. Educators and administrators will have to figure out how, if at all, this will impact our understanding of plagiarism, authorship and originality. Only time will if assisted and augmented writing will become the new normal.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


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