Revision History: A Breach of Student Privacy?

Picture this: You have three tests tomorrow, it’s already 10 PM, and you have an essay due at 11:59. Your eyes sag with fatigue, and you still can’t memorize macromolecules and trigonometric equations. You’ve been trying to write, but you’re stuck in a writer’s block. The Google Doc is empty – and has been for the past hour.

Weighing your options, you decide to take the risk: You copy the theme into ChatGPT and paste it into your doc, changing a few words here and there to make it sound less robotic. You paste it into a ChatGPT detector and get 15% written by AI. The odds are good enough to take.

A week later, you receive your grade: a 0, with a private comment to “see me”.

A new Chrome Extension has been introduced to Wheatley, named “Revision History”. This extension, marketed as a tool for teachers, provides teachers with an extensive view into the history of a Google Doc and its activity. Specifically, teachers can view the time spent on a document, how many large copies and pastes were used, the words that were copied and pasted, and most importantly, a video of the activity on the document from start to finish.

As ChatGPT and other AI tools are becoming frequently used in academic instruction, educators have been searching for ways to fight against the utilization of artificial intelligence in school assignments. Revision History seems to be a promising method of easily battling the use of AI in classrooms.

However, many students find it to be an invasion of privacy, uncomfortable with the idea that teachers can view the actions of their documents at the touch of a button. With past applications like GoGuardian, teachers have access to the screens and activity of school-issued devices, such as our Chromebooks. However, Revision History takes it a step further; the documents can be from years ago and can be viewed at any time. You don’t have to be caught red-handed – once you cheat, your hands are stained.

This idea of privacy is multifaceted. It is required that students attend school up to a specific grade, and breaking these rules can lead to fines for the child’s parent or guardian. However, while students are ‘forced’ to attend school, it is clear that students don’t really have any certain privacy while on school grounds. Everything, from connecting to school WiFi to using your school Google Account, allows the district to view a student’s actions. So, Revision History isn’t technically breaking any rules. After all, there aren’t many rules to be broken when it comes to students’ rights to privacy.

What is the argument then, with things like Revision History, and other matters regarding student privacy?

It isn’t an argument of legality but ethics. At what point does “legal” cross the line between unfairly utilizing power? Or, is Revision History simply a way to ensure students are behaving appropriately in academic instruction? Should district administrators be able to regulate the students who represent them?

With AI becoming even more refined within the next few years, only new problems needing solutions will come to fruition. Only time will tell whether solutions such as Revision History are the right path to take.

Leave a Reply