Schools look to ban ChatGPT, students use it anyway (2023)

News Analysis

ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies are already being used by students to write essays and answer questions posed by teachers and professors, and academia must learn to incorporate and not ban these new tools, experts say.

By Lucas Mearian

Senior Reporter, Computerworld |

Schools look to ban ChatGPT, students use it anyway (2)

School districts throughout the US and abroad have banned chatbot use on their networks and devices over fears students will use generative AI tech to hand in unauthentic and potentially plagiarized work.

(Video) Cheating With ChatGPT: Can OpenAI’s Chatbot Pass AP Lit? | WSJ

Universities and their professors are also wringing their hands about how to deal with artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT that students can use to write papers or generate exam answers.

“They’re still in shock to an extent,” said Tony Sheehan, a vice president and higher education analyst at Gartner. "The rapid consumer adoption of this product has taken everyone by surprise, and of course [that includes] the education sector because it’s about creative content generation — whether that’s an essay, or code, or pictures, whatever."

Soon after ChatGPT was launched in November, the nation’s largest school district, New York City Public Schools, moved to ban its use by students. The second largest school district in the US, Los Angeles Unified, soon followed suit and blocked access from school networks to the website of OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. Other school districts have done the same, including Baltimore, MD, Oakland Unifiedin California, andSeattle Public Schools.

“While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,” said Jenna Lyle, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Education, in a statement to The Washington Post.

Several leading universities in the UK, including Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, warned students that using ChatGPT for work and assessments could lead to plagiarism “and is a form of cheating.”

“ChatGPT really falls into the educational area quite strongly,” Sheehan said. “I think educational institutions for the last few months have been both exploring and adopting a position on this. And in some cases, particularly from individual faculty, that is an urge to ban it.

“But at the institutional level, more generally, we see this as a significant change in the sector and something that’s not going away completely anytime soon,” he added.

One obvious problem: how do you stop students from using a chatbot that can easily be downloaded to a laptop or smartphone?

There are anti-plagiarism tools from companies such as Grammarly and EasyBibthat can compare student work to billions of web pages as well as academic databases and check for duplication. The anti-plagiarism tools can also highlight passages that require citations and give students the resources to properly credit sources.

However, the dilemma remains that if students end up plagiarising work, they can still use online tools to reword essays or other documents. And as generative AI technology advances in sophistication, the content it creates will become less detectable as unoriginal, Sheehan said.

“Of course, the other thing students will do is use [chatbot generated content] as a first draft,” Sheehan said. “I just need some idea, give me some. Great! Now, I’ll just go off and research further and add to it, add research and references to it and it becomes almost impossible to detect that. Many institutions are saying, maybe this is something we should encourage students to do.”

Students might shun schools that ban ChatGPT

What the various educational institutions decide could affect what students do.

In January, Stanford University’s school paper — The Stanford Dailypublished the results of “an informal poll” that indicated 17% of 4,497 respondents had used ChatGPT on their final exams.

Most (59.2%) used the chatbot for brainstorming, outlining and forming ideas, according to the poll. Another 29.1% used it to answer multiple choice questions. And while 7.3% submitted written material from ChatGPT with edits, 5.5% said they submitted written material from ChatGPT unedited.

(Video) How To Get Around ChatGPT Detectors

At the time of the survey, the school’s policies forbade students from using the AI tools.

The Stanford Daily's survey results were echoed by another survey performed this week byhigher education search service College Rover. In that survey, more than40% of university students said they are using ChatGPT for coursework and they're using it multiple times per week.


  • 36% of students indicated their professors have threatened to fail students caught using AI technologies for coursework.
  • 29% of students say their university has issued guidance regarding ChatGPT and other AI tools.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 students think universities should not ban ChatGPT and other similar AI technologies.

Stanford’s Board on Judicial Affairs (BJA) has been monitoring ChatGPT and other AI tools and more recently published policy guidance for their use in coursework, a university spokesperson said in an email reply to Computerworld.

"Absent a clear statement from a course instructor, use of or consultation with generative AI shall be treated analogously to assistance from another person," the university policy states.

A Stanford committee has also published preliminary proposals and recommendations that include requiring students to askprofessors aboutthe use of ChatGPT, and to not use the AI technology on an exam "when it isn’t expressly allowed..."

"Concerns about academic integrity will likely only get worse if the university does not revisit its current policies and plan accordingly," the university's proposal states. "The dramatic emergence of ChatGPT and its sequel GPT-4 since last November has expanded the scope of these issues considerably (e.g., humanties coursework is now impacted by technology in ways that were inconceivable before last November)."

University students have strong feelings about the usefulness of generative AI technologies, and whether or not a school allows their use appears to shape their decision to attend there. In a survey released last week by College Rover, nearly four in 10 students indicated they’re not interested in attending a college or university that bans chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The survey showed 39% of respondents would shun a school that banned generative AI tech and AI in general.

But it was the ChatGPT question that raised concerns about originality and plagiarism by generative AI.

The survey of 372 students who've sought college admission this fall showed men (62%) are slightly more likely than women (58%) to be interested in attending a college that bans AI tools.

A College Rover spokesperson said while there have already been many bans in K-12 level schools, “institutions of higher education in the US have been a bit hesitant to ban the tools just yet” — instead, colleges and universities are updating their academic integrity and plagiarism policies to account for the use of AI tools.

“Allowing students to leverage tools like ChatGPT is not much different than giving them an open-book test. In order to pass, students still have to understand the material and how to utilize their resources, whether that be a textbook or a chatbot, in the most effective way,” said Bill Townsend, founder and CEO of College Rover.

Some educators liken chatbot shutdowns to banning calculators: chatbots are nothing more than a tool to be used to research and develop ideas.

(Video) ChatGPT: To ban or not to ban?

The cat’s out of the bag

Dr. Boris Steipe, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Department of Biochemistry, makes no bones about allowing his students to use ChatGPT to perform scholastic work. In fact, he sets no limits on how they use generative AI.

“Students will be assessed on the quality of their work. The work has to be well thought through, it has to be validated, and correct,” he said. “That said, I have always used oral exams in my courses, and that will remain. The human aspect of learning is one of the few invariants. But they might ask their favorite AI to help.”

Steipe’s students are not required to show their creative process, but will get credit for it if they do, as well as for sharing their experiences in completing their work.

Far from being an adversary to the learning process, Steipe called the arrival of ChatGPT an “historical moment,” and he said educators should prepare students to work with AI resources instead of attempting to shut them down.

“The world is changing and if we don't prepare our students to work with AI resources, we are not preparing them for the world. If we spend our time on making our courses AI-proof — assigning hand-written papers or such — we are missing the point of education,” Steipe said.

“We need to teach our students how to have the AI think with them, not for them. This is the most important goal: if we don't achieve that, the AI will become their competitor,” he added.

Steipe first tried ChatGPT soon after its launch last year; it was then he realized it was better at submitting assignments than most of his students. AI was changing “everything: teaching, learning and assessment.”

The professor then created Sentient Syllabus Project, an initiative by academics for academics to navigate the uncharted waters of the AI era. The project includes a weekly newsletter discussing various challenges posed by the technologies.

Currently, Steipe is redesigning a computational biology course from the ground up based on the abilities of artificial intelligence to assist students in their research and work. For example, he sees it as a way to empower students who previously had only been software consumers, but who can now become developers using the power of AI and chatbots like ChatGPT. ChatGPT is able to take prompts or suggestions from users and generate software code.

“Having personalized tutoring, self-assessed progress, adapting assignments to their learning styles, focusing on weaknesses — we have known for a long time these things would help learning, but we could never do that in practice because it did not scale,” Steipe said.

While there may be no limits on how students use technology to aid their work, plagiarism, Steipe said, is another matter. “Students still can't pass off someone else's work as their own, and the AI is not a quotable source,” he said. “This means they have to find the actual sources of ideas, and provide links to prove the source exists. But they had to do that anyway in the past.”

A spokesperson for ChatGPT-creator OpenAI said the company sees ChatGPT as a tool to assist with learning and education, but stressed that academia must address the possible abuse of generative AI by students.

"We’re encouraged by the ways educators have been ideating on how tools like ChatGPT can be useful," the spokesperson said. "We believe that educational policy experts should decide what works best for their districts and schools when it comes to the use of new technology. We are engaging with educators across the country to inform them of ChatGPT’s capabilities and our ongoing work to improve it."

Will Douglas Heaven, the senior editor for AI at MIT’sTechnology Review, recently wrote in a blog that after speaking with educators, some are beginning to accept that rather than “a dream machine for cheaters, many teachers now believe, ChatGPT could actually help make education better.”

(Video) Chat GPT Detector: How to Check and Remove Plagiarism Like a Pro!

For example, chatbots can be used as learning aids to make lessons more interactive, teach students media literacy, generate personalized lesson plans, save teachers time on administrative tasks, for example.

Companies, such as Duolingo and Quizlet, which make educational flashcards for half of all US high schools, have integrated OpenAI’s chatbot into their apps, Heaven noted.

Gartner’s Sheehan said schools are considering using chatbots as part of the student assessment process and knowledge-development process and to encourage students to consider the implications of AI technology in the future.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen a lot more schools at institutional level saying 'We want to explore the implications of this,'” Sheehan said. “How do we encourage students to use this, declare they’re using it, and use it almost as a study buddy, and then reflect on the experience and the quality of output and then report on that.”


  • Chatbots
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Education Industry
  • IT Strategy
  • IT Training
  • Emerging Technology

Senior Reporter Lucas Mearian covers Windows, Future of Work issues, mobile, AI in the enterprise, and healthcare IT.


Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.


Can schools tell if I use ChatGPT? ›

It is now completely possible for universities to detect ChatGPT and many other AI content generators. If work is submitted through a university's learning management system, such as Turnitin, AI and plagiarism detection should happen.

Can I get caught for using ChatGPT? ›

Unfortunately, yes. ChatGPT uses language technology models that are easily detectable by anti-plagiarism software like,, or That being said, there are ways to use AI technology to assist you with your work without getting caught.

Should ChatGPT be allowed in school? ›

Teachers should see ChatGPT as an opportunity rather than a threat to student learning as long it is integrated with substantive, in-class discussions. We have entered a new era of technology: the era of AI, which is increasingly driving human behaviour and decision-making. We should welcome AI's benefits to education.

Is ChatGPT banned in the US? ›

The most notable K-12 school districts to ban ChatGPT include the New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) and the Los Angeles Unified School District. NYCPS quickly restricted the AI tool from the classroom, citing negative impacts on content safety and accuracy.

Can schools track incognito browsing? ›

School or company networks: If you use a network run by your school or employer, they can see your browsing history even if you're in incognito mode. Websites you log into: When you're in incognito mode and log into a website like Twitter, you won't be anonymous. The site can also share your data with other websites.

Can schools look through text messages? ›

Can schools read my kid's text messages? Yes. But only if it falls under one of the reasons allowed by school board policy or state law.

Can teachers prove you used ChatGPT? ›

A lot of people have been wondering if teachers and professors can find out if a student is using ChatGPT and the short answer to that is yes.

Can you get in trouble for using ChatGPT? ›

If others in your class also decide to use Chat GPT to complete a programming assignment, all your answers may look very similar. This would be flagged by your professor and could potentially get you in trouble.

How many students use ChatGPT to cheat? ›

The survey found that 43% of college students overall say they've had experience using AI tools like ChatGPT, and half of those acknowledge turning to those tools to work on assignments or exams.

Is ChatGPT the end of homework? ›

Schools are having to abandon traditional homework essays as tests of what children know because artificial intelligence software is so powerful, the head of a leading school says.

Will ChatGPT replace programmers? ›

In summary, while GPT has made significant progress in recent years, it is unlikely to replace human programmers entirely because it lacks the ability to execute code, think critically and solve complex problems, and generate new ideas. …. and this article was entirely generated by Chat GPT 🤓.

What companies are banning ChatGPT? ›

Alongside Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Wells Fargo & Co. have banned the use of ChatGPT.

Who owns ChatGPT? ›

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 foundational large language models (LLMs) and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

Are chatbots illegal? ›

AI chatbots are not illegal as such, but certain chatbots are in the way they operate. One of the most famous AI chatbots, for example, does not use open source licenses when producing code. To better understand the issue, we'll explain open source licenses.

Can my school see my internet history at home? ›

Can school administrators see deleted history? School administrators can see both deleted and un-deleted history, so you must keep your browser clear of any browsing history. You should also be careful not to store any sensitive information on the school computer or laptop. Better yet, get a VPN for school wifi.

Can my school see my deleted history? ›

Technically, the school authorities won't be able to see your search history for the google searches you have performed on your device.

Can LanSchool see you at home? ›

How does LanSchool maintain parent/home privacy? If LanSchool Air is in use, teachers will only be able to monitor students' onscreen activity during an active class session. If your student is using LanSchool Classic, the software will not be functional when the device is taken home.

Can schools see everything on your phone? ›

Yes, your school can track your Internet activity. Most schools have a policy where they can track any online activity that takes place on their campus network.

Can my school look through my phone without my permission? ›

Can my school look through my phone without my permission? ONLY IN AN EMERGENCY* OR WITH A SEARCH WARRANT ISSUED BY A JUDGE based on “probable cause” that your phone contains evidence of a crime (meaning that a reasonable person would believe there is evidence in your phone).

Can schools look at your phone? ›

And, in California, students and teachers have just as much privacy as people on the street: A phone cannot be searched by school officials without a warrant, the student's consent or a legitimate emergency.

How accurate are ChatGPT detectors? ›

Leading plagiarism detection service Turnitin has announced it will activate new AI writing detection tools to help teachers quickly and accurately identify whether students are using AI writing tools like ChatGPT for their schoolwork.

Can ChatGPT code be detected? ›

As an artificial intelligence language model, Chat GPT does not have a physical presence that can be detected like a human being.

How can you tell if something is written by ChatGPT? ›

You can detect Chat GPT-written text using online tools like OpenAI API Key. The tool comes from Open AI, itself, the company that made Chat GPT. It's worth noting that the app isn't perfect.

Is it wrong to use ChatGPT for school? ›

But when asked to answer the same question on its own, ChatGPT offered this more measured warning: “As a general rule, it is not appropriate to use ChatGPT or any other automated writing tool for school papers, as it is considered cheating and does not benefit the student in the long run.”

Does ChatGPT give the same answer to everyone? ›

No, ChatGPT does not give the exact same answer and wording to everyone who asks the same question. While it may generate similar responses for identical or similar queries, it can also produce different responses based on the specific context, phrasing, and quality of input provided by each user.

Can you use ChatGPT to write essays? ›

The short answer is yes, but with some limitations. We're going to look at how to write essays with ChatGPT and other AI tools. We're also going to examine the pros and cons of using ChatGPT and discuss why we think you still need the human touch for the best results.

What percentage of school cheaters get caught? ›

95% of cheaters don't get caught

This is another motive for other students to break the established rules of academic integrity. According to U.S. News and World Report, 90% of polled college students are sure that they will not be caught cheating.

Why are students using ChatGPT? ›

The chatbot can interpret student questions and provide accurate and helpful answers. ChatGPT can also provide personalized recommendations based on a student's learning history, helping them to improve their academic performance over time.

What happens to students who cheat? ›

Students' self-esteem

Students who cheat and at first get away with it may, in the long run, feel guilty and suffer from low self-esteem. This loss of self-respect can lead to a host of other problems, including difficulties with their careers, families, and other important aspects of life.

What to do about a sexist teacher? ›

Talk to your school board

Most school districts allow people into their school board meetings. In addition, the floor is typically open for complaints. So, if you want your school community to know about your teacher's behavior, make sure to tell the attendees about your experience.

How much does ChatGPT cost? ›

ChatGPT Plus was announced at the end of January 2023 and is priced at $20 per month. At the time of writing it is available as part of a pilot plan only though, so only a select amount of users currently have access.

How much time does ChatGPT save? ›

I've found ChatGPT useful, and I feel like it is important to share how this tool has benefited me in my work as a data scientist. This technology has saved me at least 4–5 hours per week over the last 3 months, and I'm excited to share how I do this with you all. Moreover, ChatGPT told me I should write this article.

How do I stop students from using ChatGPT? ›

Incorporate Authentic Student Experience and Student Connections Into Questions. For shorter weekly essay questions or discussion board prompts, educators can guard against ChatGPT-generated content, and potentially create more enriching responses in the process, by having students relate the material to their life.

Are kids using ChatGPT? ›

A popular use for ChatGPT among younger audiences is for creating sarcastic content. While sarcastic replies might be understood as sarcasm by older audiences, kids can take them at face value.

What grade gets the most homework? ›

But teens are doing a lot more than that, according to a poll of high school students by the organization Statistic Brain. In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level.

Which jobs can ChatGPT replace? ›

ChatGPT predicted that LLMs could one day replace workers in the following roles:
  • Customer service representatives.
  • Technical writers.
  • Translators and interpreters.
  • Copywriters.
  • Data entry clerks.
Apr 5, 2023

Is ChatGPT a threat to software engineers? ›

ChatGPT is not a threat to software developers, but rather a tool that can help them produce more efficiently. ChatGPT is a language model that has been trained on a massive amount of data, allowing it to generate responses that are often indistinguishable from those of a human.

Will ChatGPT 4 be free? ›

A developer named Yuvraj Sharma has built a ChatGPT 4 bot on HuggingFace, and it's completely free to use. The best feature is that you don't even need to enter your own OpenAI API key. The GPT-4 API access is being provided by HuggingFace to its community for users to explore the model.

Why are banks banning ChatGPT? ›

JPMorgan Chase also restricted employees' use of ChatGPT as part of the bank's “normal controls around third-party software,” multiple outlets reported earlier this week, though the Telegraph had previously reported the restriction came amid concerns sensitive financial data could be shared with the chatbot.

Why is ChatGPT banned? ›

It was banned after the country's data protection watchdog called on OpenAI to stop processing Italian residents' data, claiming that ChatGPT did not comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Why some companies are banning ChatGPT? ›

Different forums including StackOverflow are banning it for providing information saying that “the posting of answers created by ChatGPT is substantially harmful to the site and to users who are asking and looking for correct answers” . Adding to all of that , Cyber Security Threats are being warned on.

Is ChatGPT owned by Elon Musk? ›

Elon Musk has disowned OpenAI, the nonprofit he helped launch that is responsible for AI sensation ChatGPT. Microsoft is now effectively controlling the company.

How to use ChatGPT to make money? ›

Email affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money using ChatGPT. The chatbot is good at writing emails in various ways and can persuade the user to click on a link to buy products or subscribe to a service. You can add your affiliate link and that will likely make money for you.

Does ChatGPT have an app? ›

Is ChatGPT on Android? No, there is no ChatGPT Android-specific service for smartphone users, and there is no ChatGPT Android app from OpenAI. The ChatGPT service is accessible via Android devices, just as it is on desktop or laptop computers – via the OpenAI ChatGPT page.

Why people don t like chatbots? ›

Lack of Human Interaction

Customers value and respect human interaction, chatbots often fail to deliver on this front. While chatbots can be useful for basic inquiries, customers may become will become frustrated when they need more personalised attention.

What is the biggest problem with chatbots? ›

7 Reasons Chatbots Fail and How We Can Fix it
  • Not identifying the customer's use case. ...
  • Not understanding customer emotion and intent. ...
  • The chatbot lacks transparency. ...
  • When customers prefer human agents. ...
  • Not able to address personalized customer issues. ...
  • Lacking data collection and analysis functions. ...
  • Not aligning with the brand.
Dec 2, 2021

Can you sue a bot? ›

They are not entities with a legal status that would make them amendable to sue or be sued. If a robot causes harm, you have to sue its owner.

Can professors tell if you use ChatGPT? ›

It also won't be as effective as it seems, as professors can often detect ChatGPT essays using various methods. Plagiarism detection tools such as Turnitin and Copyscape can spot if your essay is generated by ChatGPT without any editing or citation.

Is ChatGPT ethical? ›

Another ethical concern it raises is plagiarism. Educational institutions are hugely concerned about the originality of work submitted by students. Unfortunately, the features of ChatGPT have compounded the issue by making it easier for students to plagiarise almost undetected.

Can teachers detect AI writing? ›

Teachers can quickly identify instances of AI-generated writing and apply suitable changes by utilizing strategies such as recognizing problems with the content, comparing the current essay to the student's past work, and using AI-detection tools.

How do I know if a text was written by AI? ›

GLTR is currently the most visual way to predict if casual portions of text have been written with AI. To use GLTR, simply copy and paste a piece of text into the input box and hit "analyze." This tool was built with GPT-2, meaning it won't be as extensively trained as if it were written with GPT-3 or GPT-4 content.

Can Turnitin detect AI writing? ›

Currently, Turnitin's AI writing detection model is trained to detect content from the GPT-3 and GPT-3.5 language models, which includes ChatGPT. Because the writing characteristics of GPT-4 are consistent with earlier model versions, our detector is able to detect content from GPT-4 (ChatGPT Plus) most of the time.

How do I know if I plagiarised? ›

Independent of knowing your students' writing, other features that may suggest a fully or partially plagiarized paper may include:
  • Font of paper suddenly changes (suggests copy/pasting)
  • Inconsistencies in citation format or usage.
  • Complete lack of citations, especially for complex material/ideas.

Can you use ChatGPT to write essays without plagiarizing? ›

Yes. ChatGPT uses NLP and machine learning to produce text. It may be used to write essays without plagiarising.

Can I use ChatGPT to write my thesis? ›

Yes. You can use ChatGPT to write a thesis. Start with choosing a topic, creating an outline, and writing a prompt to enable ChatGPT to generate a thesis on the topic for you.

What are the disadvantages of ChatGPT? ›

While ChatGPT is proficient in language processing, it can struggle to grasp the subtle nuances of human communication. For example, if a user were to use sarcasm or humor in their message, ChatGPT may fail to pick up on the intended meaning and instead provide a response that is inappropriate or irrelevant.

What is the limit of ChatGPT? ›

What is the ChatGPT character limit? ChatGPT has a hidden limit of about 500 words or 4,000 characters, but this depends on the request. Users have reported that asking the AI for its official word or character limit results in a reply of "none," but that's not entirely correct.

Does ChatGPT Plus give better answers? ›

OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus is a convincing AI chatbot that can offer excellent features and benefits compared to the basic free version of ChatGPT. Features like higher accuracy, no downtime, faster response, and more make it suitable for research papers, data analysis, customer support, and more at $20/month.


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