When disruptive technologies knock at the door: talking about ChatGPT in higher education - A qualitative case study investigating the perceptions at Radboud University about ChatGPT in higher education.

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When ChatGPT was released in November 2022, the world of higher education was overwhelmed by the advanced, versatile applications of the language model that seemed both exiting and threatening. Nevertheless, few research on the perceptions of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) regarding ChatGPT existed. Therefore, utilizing a qualitative case method, the present study aimed at acquiring further understanding of these attitudes towards the language model in higher education. In three in-depth semi-structured interviews with employees from the Radboud University in the Netherlands, the following research question was explored: “How does Radboud University perceive the use of ChatGPT in higher education?” A thematic analysis indicated that participants expected the disruptive technology to alter conventional learning and teaching at Radboud University. However, while some accepted the presence of ChatGPT, others warned for embracing ChatGPT too quickly. Furthermore, the ubiquity of ChatGPT increased awareness of the importance of academic competences. Besides, the focus on a conscious attitude was considered vital when utilizing ChatGPT. Although participants recognized beneficial applications for higher education, the system behind ChatGPT, and its commercial character were alarming. Yet, the formulation of adequate university measures may be difficult, as ChatGPT’s capabilities continuingly evolve. Conclusively, the perceptions about ChatGPT in higher education identified at the Radboud University may contribute to ongoing discussions within HEI on how to deal with the prevalence of ChatGPT and its implications for academic education.
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