The application and implications of ChatGPT in the education sector

The application and implications of ChatGPT in the education sector

Earlier this year, RMIT Professorial Academy and the RMIT Resource Committee held a ChatGPT forum on the myths, challenges and implications of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools for research, teaching and services provided at the university.

Since its debut in November 2022, ChatGPT has made a significant impression, presenting a diverse array of opportunities and challenges, particularly for universities. 

RMIT’s approach to incorporating generative AI in teaching 

During the forum, the panel engaged in a thoughtful evaluation of RMIT’s dynamic relationship with emerging AI tools. 

In response to ChatGPT’s involvement in the education sector, RMIT developed the ‘ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence and Assessment Report 2023.’ 

During the development of this paper and to determine RMIT’s position on the application of these tools at the university, the team took into consideration the views and opinions of educators, academics and professional staff at RMIT, in-depth research from experts, and a comparison of how other universities responded. 

As outlined in the report, “RMIT is committed to guiding students to think critically and ethically about the use of AI technologies such as ChatGPT”.

Dr Hilary Wheaton, Principal Advisor, Educational Practice Learning and Teaching, was a co-author involved with this report. 

She reflected that the position that RMIT took was “undoubtedly a challenge, a big disrupter… but one that we could not avoid.”

As discussed by the panel, this position means that students would be guided on how to use these new tools and provided support on how to apply them appropriately and effectively to their studies. 

“There are some great opportunities to build a far more sophisticated conversation with students and build their awareness about not only academic integrity but information and literacy,” Hilary Wheaton said.

Implications for researchers and research integrity

The panel raised that students are not the only affected group and effort needs to be made to guide researchers in the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools in their work. 

Several panellists were involved in the creation of a white paper, ‘Research Integrity and Generative AI’, to support researchers in maintain their high standards of research integrity when using of generative AI tools.  

The paper aims to clarify the risks and the opportunities of integrating AI tools into research practice, both for researchers already using these tools and those who are yet to adopt their use. 

The risk of falsification, a lack of reproducibility and limited transparency are examples of key issues identified in the paper that researchers need to consider in the responsible conduct of research when using AI.

Professor Lisa Given, Director of the Social Change Enabling Impact Platform and Professor of Information Sciences, discussed that whilst researchers must adjust and shift their practise in accordance with RMIT’s position when using these tools, they can take direction from many of the existing guidelines set out in responsible conduct of research. 

“There are actually a lot of lessons in the existing principles that can guide us with these new technologies,” Lisa Given said.

Alternative uses of generative AI at RMIT

Outside of the work created by researchers and students, ChatGPT and other generative AI tools have other potential applications, including the possibility being used to assist the university with its operational services. 

There is potential for AI tools to increase staff and student satisfaction. 

Nonna Milmeister, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, raised the example of rather than being sent a 100-page policy to answer a simple query, “this technology gives you an answer to your specific personalised question in a very human-like way,” she said.

However, Professor Karin Verspoor, Dean of the School of Computing Technologies, cautioned that the potential for confabulation by generative AI means that users must still critically assess outputs to ensure they make sense.

‘It [ChatGPT] doesn’t have a knowledge model and it doesn’t actually understand what it’s saying,’ she said.  

Panellists recognised the need for ongoing adaptation from the university in their uses of these technologies. Additionally, they acknowledged that due to the ever-changing nature of ChatGPT and generative AI, RMIT needs to support students and researchers alike when employing these tools and understand that circumstances may change as the technology advances. 

ChatGPT panel discussion recording Wed 29 March

The discussion aimed to uncover ChatGPT's myth, assess its implications and challenges for research and innovation and teaching and learning, and explore its opportunities for the future.

This engaging and thought-provoking discussion was moderated by Distinguished Professor Xinghuo Yu, Inaugural Chair of the RMIT Professorial Academy, and a Vice-Chancellor's Professorial Fellow. 


Experts featured on the panel

  • Professor Karin Verspoor, Dean of the School of Computing Technologies. 

  • Professor Falk Scholer, Chair of RMIT's Research Committee, a Professor in Information Retrieval, and Deputy Director of the RMIT Centre for Information Discovery and Data Analytics (CIDDA).

  • Dr Hilary Wheaton, Principal Advisor, Educational Practice Learning and Teaching.

  • Professor Lisa Given, Director of the Social Change Enabling Impact Platform and Professor of Information Sciences. 

  • Nonna Milmeister, Chief Data & Analytics Officer. 

20 November 2023



Story by Eliza Cain, Communications Officer


20 November 2023


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.