5000 word essay? There’s an app for that!

app

Rushing around, as usual, this morning I was thinking about an assignment I need to complete for an executive coaching course I’m doing. It’s a typical story, I want to get organised and finish the work on time and to the best of my abilities but I’m struggling to squeeze in the time around work and life.

I found myself thinking about whether there were any tools, methods or specific technology that might help me get it done. I’m a big believer that any job can be made simpler with the right tool; technology usually holds the answers. Take the cover image for example, just a couple of minutes with an art app powered by AI saved me trawling an image library. As we are adopting AI at work, I found myself wondering if it could help with my assignment. The short answer? It can.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aids I found was one that’s designed to help people improve their search rankings online. This tool allows you to drop content into it, it would then ‘understand’ the text and rewrite it to create something new but with the same overall messages. While it’s meant to be used to quickly produce fresh content for search purposes, it’s easy to see how it could misused by students. Do a bit of research, pull in a few extracts and hey presto you have your 5000 word assignment done in less than an hour.

Tempting.

I’m acutely aware that ethics will be the dilemma of our generation and it is something we need to crack soon because the younger generation is already finding itself caught up in the debate.

The ban on watches in GCSE and A-level exams, offers a glimpse into this future. While the ban is more about preventing people from accessing information than getting a robot to write your paper, it still highlights how difficult it is for invigilators to spot the difference between a smartwatch and a bog standard timepiece; they’re not all square and bulky any more. As wearable tech and ‘the internet of things’ become ever more prevalent in our life, it’s going to get more challenging to spot devices that can be used to cheat.

And, as my search shows the same is true of coursework. While we’re a way off from having the technology to create sophisticated, in-depth essays – it’s coming. Plagiarism checkers will likely intensify their efforts, so that eventually AI will be used to spot the tell-tale signs of an essay being written by a bot.

Teaching institutes are going to have to get a lot more savvy about what they allow into exams – I suspect we’ll see more and more stories about banned items and safeguards in the coming years.

Perhaps, in the end, all education will be graded through exams or practical application, or we’ll see greater emphasis on original thought and personal perspective. One thing’s for sure; we need to guarantee, even as AI and wearable technology make our lives easier and content faster to create, that we’re still actually learning.

You could argue there’s no better sector than education to latch on to innovation. Certainly at inni, we’ve found that technology can make learning more engaging and immersive than ever before; whether we’re training our staff or helping our clients get to grips with new complicated bits of legislation. From intuitive software and demos you can personalise with your details to videos, gifs and articles all available whenever you need a question answered or your curiosity sated; we’ve embraced the idea that technology lets you learn anytime, anywhere.

That said, no matter the sector the use of AI has to be ethical. My search for a quick fix proved how easy it could be to cross the line. You’ll be relieved to know that my moral compass kicked in, but the search highlighted to me that if we fail to ensure we teach our kids the right from the wrong when it comes to applying AI then we will fail in all our educational efforts – AI has huge potential to improve society but only in the right hands.

And on that note, I’d better get back to writing that assignment.