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AI starting to diminish work for student essay ghostwriters

by Tom Johnson on May 19, 2023 •
categories: technical-writing AI

Tools like ChatGPT are diminishing reliance on essay cheating services. This doesn't mean fewer students are cheating, though. In fact, cheating is likely more rampant with AI tools, and more students are losing the patience to write.

Apparently, the popularity of using ChatGPT to write high school essays has impacted the contract cheating market, which had a lot of ghostwriters in Kenya. See AI is taking the jobs of Kenyans who write essays for U.S. college students.

My first reaction was, hooray, fewer essay cheating services! But as I thought more, I realized that reducing the reliance on human ghostwriters, and instead using AI tools like ChatGPT or Bard, means cheating is easier (now that it’s free) and more rampant.

English teachers will need to rethink their essay writing assignments or look for techno-solutions to identify AI-written content. Additionally, the Kenyan ghostwriters out of work might evolve their work to offer services to disguise AI-written content from identification.

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Presumably, through these essay assignments, students learned critical thinking, idea organization, and language mastery. What will writing skills look like for a generation of students who grow up doing prompt engineering instead of actual writing? And how will the former ghostwriters make use of their amplified critical thinking skills gleaned from all the essays they’ve written? :)

As I’ve used AI tools to assist with content brainstorming, generation, and editing, I’ve noticed one thing: these tools make me forget how laborious writing can be. When you get used to clicking a button to generate coherent sentences, how can you find the patience to go back to manual modes, in which each step in the essay writing process requires time, thought, research, and a lot of rewriting? Students may simply grow too impatient to write.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation if you're looking for more info about that. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.

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