The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a guideline to introduce ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that has taken the world by storm, reaching 100 million users just two months after being launched. The Quick Start Guide provides an overview of how ChatGPT works and explains how it can be used in higher education. The Quick Start Guide raises some of the main challenges and ethical implications of AI in higher education and offers practical steps that higher education institutions can take. 

The impact of ChatGPT on higher education has been immediate and divisive. Although its applications in higher education are extensive, many universities have already banned it over fears of student plagiarism, and several countries have blocked ChatGPT.

The main concern that has been expressed about ChatGPT in higher education relates to academic integrity. HEIs and educators have sounded alarm bells about the increased risk of plagiarism and cheating if students use ChatGPT to prepare or write essays and exams. This may have deeper implications for subjects that rely more on written inputs or information recall, areas that ChatGPT can better support. 

There are also concerns that existing tools to detect plagiarism may not be effective in the face of writing done by ChatGPT. This has already led to the development of other applications that can detect whether AI has been used in writing. In the meantime, multiple HEIs around the world have banned ChatGPT due to concerns around academic integrity and others have updated or changed the way they do assessments, basing them instead on in-class or non-written assignments. 

The UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of AI aims to provide a foundation so that AI systems work for the betterment not only of individuals and societies but also for the good of the environment and ecosystems. The Recommendation is also designed to prevent harm from or by AI. 

Recognizing that AI has both positive and negative effects, the Recommendation was adopted in late 2021 with the expectation that governments would adopt it at national level and that other public and private sector actors would benefit from the ethical guidance provided by the Recommendation. 

To get access for the full copy of the guideline, please click here.