Harvard Will Use AI to Help Teach Computer Science Course

Harvard University will use artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to help teach an introductory computer science class this fall, The Harvard Crimson reported.
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Published on July 7, 2023
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  • Harvard is integrating AI into its introductory computer science course, according to The Harvard Crimson.
  • AI will answer student questions and help fix errors in code.
  • Using AI will help students learn at their own pace with round-the-clock access to tools and resources, the course's professor told The Crimson.
  • AI tools like ChatGPT have become increasingly widespread across higher education over the past year.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform higher education and major industries alike — and schools are rapidly adjusting to keep up with the rapidly emerging technology.

Harvard University is integrating AI into its first class for computer science students, The Harvard Crimson reported. Machine learning will give students feedback, help fine-tune their code, and even answer frequently asked questions, David Malan, the Harvard professor who heads up Computer Science 50: Introduction to Computer Science (CS50), told The Crimson.

Malan told The Crimson in an emailed statement that using artificial intelligence in the introductory course will help students work at their own pace and style via round-the-clock access to tools and resources.

Artificial intelligence has quickly become a critical part of higher education's future, both in terms of its uses for students and its wide applicability across industries. College students have mixed views on the use of AI on schoolwork, with 51% agreeing in a recent BestColleges survey that using AI tools like ChatGPT on schoolwork counts as cheating or plagiarism.

Roughly 43% of college students said in that survey that they have used ChatGPT or a similar AI application. Most college students, 57%, said in that survey that they did not intend to use or continue using AI to complete their schoolwork.

Students also largely lack guidance on AI: 6 in 10 students reported that their instructors or schools haven't specified how to use AI tools ethically or responsibly.

Malan wrote to The Crimson that existing AI programs, including ChatGPT, can be "too helpful" and that the AI used in CS50 will help students discover an answer on their own rather than simply writing it out for them.

A variety of colleges, including Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Brown University, and a slew of other high-power public and private institutions alike, have adopted degrees focused entirely on artificial intelligence.

AI jobs are in high demand as the technology is set to transform the global economy, although it's unclear exactly how widespread AI's effect will be on the workforce.

The McKinsey Global Institute suggested in a recent report that roughly a third of American workers might need to switch jobs over the next decade, but the World Economic Forum predicted a global net increase of 58 million jobs thanks to AI.