'Not yet a major threat': Indian school heads in UAE respond as CBSE prohibits use of ChatGPT

They note that the concern goes beyond ‘cheating,’ as the use of these AI tools could potentially stunt critical thinking


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 22 Feb 2023, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Feb 2023, 10:14 PM

Some educationists in the UAE feel that the widespread use of AI tools like ChatGPT will fundamentally change assessment methods that are currently being employed in classrooms, with students being mandatorily asked to complete tasks within class timings.

This comes after the latest artificial intelligence based chatbot has taken the education sector by storm ever since its release last November.

An increasing number of students are using it to complete home assessments with the controversial writing tool generating content of human-like text.

Prof. Stephen Clark Wilhite, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success / Provost American University of Ras Al Khaimah said, “The completion of many assignments and all assessments (tests) will need to take place during class time to minimize threats to academic integrity. That is, the completion of assignments and assessments will need to take place in an environment in which we can be confident that the work produced truly reflects the intellectual efforts of the students and is not simply the work of an AI app.”

CBSE board examination guidelines stipulate the prohibition of ChatGPT among others

Meanwhile, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has specified that the use of ChatGPT is prohibited, as per the board examination guidelines issued this year.

Point 6 of the ‘guidelines for Grade X and XII Board Exam students’ stipulates “mobile, ChatGPT and other electronic items are not allowed inside the examination centre.”

While seemingly, it isn’t the cause of immediate alarm in the UAE schools, K George Mathew, Principal/CEO, GEMS United Indian School – Abu Dhabi says, “CBSE end-of-year assessments are primarily pen-and-paper and do not include online options, unless specified for eligible students with special needs. In such cases, students are proctored, and it is ensured the device is not connected to the internet.”

He adds, “ChatGPT would not assist students to get specific MCQ or contextual answers in the question paper, as the content needs to be first fed into ChatGPT for it to process answers.

Principals underline students are well aware of ChatGPT and have dabbled with it. They opine the concern goes beyond ‘cheating’ as the use of such AI tools could more importantly stunt critical thinking.

“VIVA session is built into students’ project submission marking scheme which ensures students are speaking about their submission and how they went about creating it. This is a good indicator of whether the submission was lifted from the internet or was done by someone else. ChatGPT is not yet a major threat to in-class, skill-based teaching and learning where the aspect of submitting summarised knowledge is minimal and the focus is on developing thinking skills,” adds George Mathew.

Thomas Mathew, Executive Principal, GEMS Our Own English High School – Dubai says, “CBSE has very strict guidelines. Students are only allowed to take the Admit Card and stationery in a clear, visible pouch into the examination hall. Electronic items are not permitted. So, ChatGPT has no bearing on CBSE examinations.

“Students always keep abreast of the latest technology and as educators we need to use technology to support learning. We are trained to be vigilant, and rules are updated to ensure that testing is fair and impartial.”

ChatGPT elevates teaching and learning processes if used responsibly

But principals of institutions in the same vein also reiterate it’s important to incorporate these tools into education and elevate the teaching and learning process to make it more relevant and fit for purpose.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal and Director of DPS Dubai says, “Today, we are unlocking a new era of education with AI tools such as ChatGPT. A lot of schools across the world have banned ChatGPT owing to concerns about plagiarism and misinformation. However, I believe it is possible to embrace this tool. It is essentially a text generator which is purely based on the given inputs and lacks the ability to comprehend the meaning behind the generated answers.

“In my opinion, as educators, the way forward is to educate students on utilising technology responsibly and ethically rather than eliminating it from the classrooms. Teens will always find the forbidden fruit to be sweeter. From providing students with a hands-on experience in navigating AI to facilitating automatic grading of assessments, the tool may be redefined and utilised for its advantages. We must weigh the benefits of the tool and effectively leverage it to achieve educational objectives.”

Therefore, experts point out that students should not outsource their entire thinking process to ChatGPT. Students should instead use this as a supplement to their own thinking and a tool to improve the quality of their content and ideas.

“Assessments should focus on unleashing the critical and creative thinking skills of students through high-level questions. It should push students to think out of the box, frame their own ideas, form arguments and critique AI-produced content. To uphold academic integrity, we must introduce more challenging assignments and consider in-class participation as a pivotal component of assessing students’ learning,” adds Nandkeolyar.


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