Schools look to ban ChatGPT, students use it anyway (2024)

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Schools look to ban ChatGPT, students use it anyway (2024)


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.

Is it illegal to use ChatGPT for homework? ›


Why was 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).

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 ChatGPT content be detected? ›

Yes and no; in theory, Google could most likely detect a text is being generated by AI or ChatGPT if they created a system for it. There is no indication that Google does this when indexing and ranking different content.

Can teachers find out if you use ChatGPT? ›

Yes, you can get caught using ChatGPT by various methods, such as plagiarism detection tools, stylometric analysis tools, code quality analysis tools, and other AI detectors.

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 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.”

Is Chatgtp cheating? ›

Half of college students are likely already using ChatGPT to cheat, experts have estimated. They warn the revolutionary AI has created a cheating epidemic that poses a huge threat to the integrity of academia.

Has anyone been banned from ChatGPT? ›

Being banned from ChatGPT can happen to anyone, but understanding the reasons behind it and taking appropriate steps can help you overcome or prevent such a situation.

Who is banning ChatGPT? ›

Italy has become the first country in the West to ban ChatGPT, the popular artificial intelligence chatbot from U.S. startup OpenAI.

How many countries have banned ChatGPT? ›

However, Italy is not the only country which has expressed concerns over the rise of AI-generative chatbot- ChatGPT. Before, Italy, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China, have made Open AI's generative AI tool inaccessible within its borders due to various concerns.

Can we use ChatGPT for free? ›

Yes, the basic version of ChatGPT is completely free to use.

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.

Why can my school see my incognito activity? ›

Google states that your private data is still visible to websites, network administrators (school or employer), and ISPs. That is because your online traffic is unencrypted, and your actual IP address and geolocation are exposed. Want to hear more? Check our video about Incognito mode and how private it really is.

Can the government see my incognito? ›

Incognito mode doesn't stop web tracking. Your ISP, your employer, the websites you visit, search engines, the government, and other third-party snoopers can still track your browsing even if you use incognito mode.

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.

Will ChatGPT affect Google? ›

It's effect on Google is that, Google can use the technology of GPT to improve their natural language processing and understanding abilities, which can help them to improve the performance of their products such as Google Search, Google Assistant, Google Translate, etc.

How can teachers find out if you are plagiarizing? ›

Some professors use plagiarism checkers like Turnitin. Others might pull up a search engine and search for commonly used words and phrases in your paper. Some may look to see the check-lists found on academic databases.

Can teachers see your phone? ›

So while you retain some rights to privacy at school, if your school has a reasonable suspicion you're violating school rules with your phone, they may be entitled to search it — or punish you if you refuse to unlock it.

Can teachers detect AI writing? ›

Turnitin's AI detector provides an evaluative measure of how many sentences in a written submission may have been generated by artificial intelligence, which educators can use to determine if further review, inquiry or discussion with the student is needed.

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.

Are students using ChatGPT to write essays? ›

While ChatGPT can write essays and many other forms of content, it's not a substitute for doing the work yourself and writing with an understanding of the topic. It's meant to be a tool to assist you.

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.

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.

Is ChatGPT good or bad for society? ›

The most harmful aspect of ChatGPT is that it can mislead the general public. Because ChatGPT learns information from the internet, it may provide false news, illegal information, confidential information, or other material that may cause major problems for the user or, in the worst-case scenario, society.

Can professors tell if you cheat online? ›

The short answer is yes. Online exams can detect cheating. Authentication procedures, web monitoring, data forensics, and proctoring (just to name a few) make it hard for examinees to get away with cheating.

Do most cheaters get caught? ›

Coming to the question of how many affairs are discovered, a survey by (a dating site for extramarital affairs) revealed that 63% of cheaters have been caught at some point. Most of them were caught during their third affair.

How rare is cheating? ›

According to estimates based on married couples, approximately 25% of men admit to cheating on their spouse at some point, while around 15% of women admit to the same. Another study found that up to 4% of married individuals had cheated on their spouse in the past year.

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.

Who owns ChatGPT? ›

Chat GPT is owned and developed by OpenAI, a leading artificial intelligence research and deployment company based in San Francisco that was launched in December 2015.

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.

Can you get banned from chat GTP? ›

Yes—you can get banned from ChatGPT.

This includes ChatGPT as a whole. If you're discovered participating in disallowed usage, you may receive an initial warning and request to make the necessary changes.

Why is ChatGPT not allowed in Italy? ›

Italy's Garante found four problems that ChatGPT violates under the GDPR: it doesn't have age control and parental consent systems, so children under the age of 13 could use ChatGPT; it can provide information about people that is inaccurate or even untrue; people haven't been informed about their data was collected; ...

What happens if you violate ChatGPT content policy? ›

If your text is flagged as a potential violation of ChatGPT's content policies, you will receive an orange warning message, as we mentioned earlier. This warning does not mean that you will be banned from the platform, but it does mean that your text will be carefully monitored by the chatbot.

Which companies have blocked ChatGPT? ›

Amazon has already warned staff not to paste confidential data to ChatGPT, while banking giant JPMorgan and US-based mobile phone network Verizon have banned workers from using the software altogether.

Is ChatGPT banned in Florida? ›

South Florida school districts react to ChatGPT bans, as bot can complete work for students. New York City schools have recently banned access to ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence bot that has the ability to complete students' work, and now South Florida school districts are looking into the issue.

Which country is ChatGPT available? ›

ChatGPT is a language model, so it is not limited to a specific set of countries. It can respond to questions and generate text in any language and about any country, as long as it has been trained on enough data in that language or about that country.

Is ChatGPT available in USA? ›

Unfortunately not. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model which is unavailable in some countries due to strict internet censorship laws and regulations.

Is ChatGPT allowed in China? ›

China: The country has strict rules against foreign websites and applications and as the relations between China and the United States are at historic lows, Beijing will never let a ChatGPT-like platform function in the country.

Is ChatGPT legal in China? ›

ChatGPT, the popular discussion bot created by US-based OpenAI, is not officially available in China, where the government operates a comprehensive firewall and strict internet censorship.

Who invented 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.

Is ChatGPT Plus worth it? ›

Whether or not Chat GPT Plus is worth the investment will depend on your business's specific needs and budget. The benefits of using an advanced AI chatbot like Chat GPT Plus can far outweigh the costs for many businesses. However, it may not be worth the investment if you only need a basic chatbot.

Why is ChatGPT free? ›

Usage is currently open to the public free of charge because ChatGPT is in its research and feedback-collection phase. A paid subscription version called ChatGPT Plus launched at the beginning of February.

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 schools track your text messages? ›

Everyone has a right to their private information, so school administrators cannot view things like text messages, emails, photographs, or other private information that the public does not have access to on a student's phone without consent.

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.

Can schools see everything on your phone? ›

You should assume that your school or college monitors everything you do online. In addition to monitoring where you go online, schools can also block access to certain sites (including apps), or even worse, they can restrict access to any domains that aren't whitelisted.

Can your school see your 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 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 you see what your child is texting? ›

View Text Message with Google Family Link. Google family link can allow you to see your kid's text messages, SMS text, and social media texts and block some activities.

Can schools see your messages on school WiFi? ›

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.

Are your texts really private? ›

With SMS, messages you send are not end-to-end encrypted. Your cellular provider can see the contents of messages you send and receive. Those messages are stored on your cellular provider's systems—so, instead of a tech company like Facebook seeing your messages, your cellular provider can see your messages.

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.

Can professors tell if you use ChatGPT? ›

Can universities detect ChatGPT code? Whether or not universities will know if you have copied code from Chat GPT, is tricky to answer. Technically, code will not be flagged by most plagiarism detectors, so your professors may have some difficulty actually identifying what is AI-generated or not.

How to use ChatGPT for free? ›

You can access ChatGPT by going to and logging in. If you're on OpenAI's website, you can log in to your account, then scroll down until you see ChatGTP on the bottom left corner of the page, and click on it to start chatting.

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.

What is the difference between ChatGPT and ChatGPT Plus? ›

ChatGPT uses a 12-layer transformer model with 117 million parameters, while ChatGPT Plus uses a large 24-layer transformer model with 1.5 billion parameters. In other words, while ChatGPT Plus has a high ability to learn complex language patterns, it also requires more computer resources to learn and execute.

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