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AI writing: The challenge and opportunity in front of education now

Chris Caren
Chris Caren
Turnitin CEO

At every turn, academic integrity has been both supported by and tested by technology. And, for nearly 25 years, Turnitin has been at the forefront of academic integrity and writing technology, evolving with and adapting to the needs of the global education community. As with any commitment to growth and innovation, it is important to acknowledge new challenges and new opportunities.

Today, facing a new frontier with AI writing and ChatGPT, educators and institutions are calling on Turnitin for guidance and support.

Turnitin AI

AI is firmly in our DNA at Turnitin, with AI functionality built into our solutions dating back to 2015. Fundamentally, we believe that AI can be a positive force and that equitable access to AI tools is vital. When used responsibly, AI has the potential to support and enhance the learning process. However, we recognize that for educators, there is a more pressing and immediate need to know when and where AI and AI writing tools have been used by students.

AI Writing

Lately, there has been a surge of interest and concern surrounding ChatGPT, the increased sophistication of its capabilities, and the rapid advancement of AI writing tools. While AI writing tools have the potential to expand on original thoughts and ideas, they also have risks similar to contract cheating, when students represent AI-assisted writing as their own. This becomes both a challenge and an opportunity for the education community, one that we have prepared for and are ready to support educators in taking on.

Our AI Writing Roadmap

While the buzz is recent, for us, the focus on AI writing is not new. For the last two and a half years, we have been researching and developing technology to recognize the signature of AI-assisted writing. Today, some of those technologies are in the trial stage, while others are market-ready.

So, what does that mean with regard to the question on everyone’ s mind: “Can Turnitin detect ChatGPT writing?” We have technology that can detect AI-assisted writing and AI writing generated by tools such as ChatGPT today.

Turnitin Originality, an in-market product that investigates the authenticity of student work, can detect some forms of AI-assisted writing and report on indicators of contract cheating. And, other recent product enhancements are detecting AI writing in our research and development labs.

We will incorporate our latest AI writing detection capabilities— including those that recognize ChatGPT writing—into our in-market products for educator use in 2023.

We plan to add enhanced product features beyond detection designed to support pedagogical practices that foster original thinking, and work with customers to enhance technologies that help them evaluate whether a student’s work is their own. Like AI, we are advancing quickly, and we will continue to support the education community as they embrace elements of AI-assisted writing while still upholding high standards of academic integrity.

Where do we go from here?

The rise and viral adoption of ChatGPT and other emerging AI writing tools has brought about a number of questions—primarily because we are witnessing the shift in real time. But, it is important to recognize that the presence of AI writing capabilities does not signal the end of original thought or expression if educators set the right parameters and expectations for its use.

The next step is a critical one. Educators, administrators, students, and technology partners have an opportunity and a responsibility to participate openly and honestly in the AI-assisted writing dialogue, to preserve integrity and trust in the education community and beyond. We are actively working with customer advocates and partners to address new and evolving needs, further our collective understanding of current AI writing capabilities, and acknowledge when its use benefits or detracts from student learning.

We encourage you to have these discussions at your institution now and set achievable standards and expectations for your students around the acceptable use of AI-assisted writing tools.