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Emory Univesity Suspends Students Over AI Study Tool The School Gave Them $10k To Build And Promoted

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the controversy surrounding the use of an AI tool called "Eightball" developed by students at Emory University. Despite the university funding and promoting the tool, they later suspended the students for a year after the university's IT department and Honor Council got involved, citing concerns about potential cheating and unauthorized access to the university's Canvas platform.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The Eightball AI Tool

1. What is the Eightball AI tool?

  • Eightball is an AI platform developed by Emory University students that is designed to help students study course materials.
  • It connects to the university's Canvas platform and automatically generates practice tests, flashcards, and other study materials based on the course content uploaded by professors.
  • Eightball is described as a "ChatGPT-like experience" that is customized for the user's specific courses.

2. How did the university initially respond to Eightball?

  • The university funded the development of Eightball, giving the students $10,000 to build and launch the tool.
  • The university promoted Eightball on its website and social media, and faculty members praised the tool.
  • Everything seemed to be above-board and the university was supportive of the students' project.

3. What changed that led the university to take action against Eightball?

  • The university's IT department and Honor Council became concerned about the way Eightball allowed students to connect their Canvas API tokens to the tool.
  • The university claimed this was a violation of IT policies and a security risk, even though Canvas's own documentation explains how students can use API tokens to connect their accounts to third-party apps.
  • The Honor Council launched an investigation, but found that Eightball had not been used for cheating and the students had not lied about the tool's capabilities.

4. What was the outcome of the university's actions against Eightball?

  • Despite the lack of evidence of cheating or wrongdoing, the Honor Council recommended that the students be suspended for a year.
  • The students are now suing the university, as the article suggests the court is likely to "laugh Emory University out of the courtroom and order it to return these students to their classes."

[02] Broader Implications

1. How does this case relate to the broader concerns around AI tools and cheating in higher education?

  • The article suggests that the concerns over students using AI tools to cheat are "wildly overblown," and that the use of "anti-cheating" software by universities is often misguided.
  • The Eightball case highlights how universities may overreact to new technologies, even when they are not being used for cheating, and may take punitive actions against students without justification.

2. What are the key lessons or takeaways from this case?

  • Universities should be more open and supportive of student-led innovation, especially when they have actively funded and promoted the project.
  • Concerns over the use of APIs and student credentials should be balanced against the legitimate purposes and functionality of the tools being developed.
  • Universities need to carefully evaluate the actual use and impact of AI tools, rather than making assumptions about their potential for misuse.
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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