AI spambots invade community college classroom, professor puzzled


One professor believes that some of his students are actually AI-powered spambots designed to steal valuable resources from community colleges.

As reported via Medium, one adjunct faculty instructor at an unknown community college is having trouble with some of the students in his summer course.

We all know that college students may not be the most organized and may struggle with motivation, which could impact their course submissions.

However, the submissions and “interactions” observed by the professor raised some questions surrounding the use of AI in the classroom.

Now, academia isn’t exempt from the AI boom, as more and more stories surface highlighting academic misconduct, specifically when students use chatbots to “help” them write papers, craft submissions, or even cheat on exams.

However, this professor has reason to believe that students aren’t just using AI to help them but that one-third of his students are AI-powered.

This instructor leads online Art History and Art Appreciation courses at a community college. There, they measure attendance based on how much time students spend on the college portal and the assignments they submit.

Some of the assignments submitted raised some eyebrows, and the amount of time certain “students” spent on the college online portal was well below average.

The professor also commented on the apparent hallucinations that are characteristic of current AI models.

One example provided by the professor was an assignment that a student submitted about an artist and a piece of art that didn’t exist. In addition to this obvious hallucination, the professor noted that the visual analysis was analyzing a sculpture using language typically associated with paintings.

The “student” said that the sculpture contained various colors, which isn’t accurate, and visual texture was created through “delicate brushstrokes.”

However, certain students' engagement with the learning portal really helps solidify the professor's AI-powered spambot theory.

They state that a student who is familiar with the portal wouldn’t upload the assignment in such a fractured and disjointed way as this “student” did.

Although the professor acknowledges that this evidence isn’t conclusive, the patterns of behavior seem to suggest that these are the spambots that other faculty members have warned them about.

But why put all the effort into creating an AI-powered spambot and enrolling it into a class?

Money.

Spambot students don’t necessarily care about the grades they get at the end of the course. They just want to be enrolled in a course so they can receive financial aid and ultimately defraud the education system.

As the professor reported via Medium, the aim of the game is to stay enrolled in a course for as long as possible so they can keep cashing those financial aid checks.

So, how did the professor deal with this issue? They marked the bots as non-attending students, which could potentially get them kicked off the course, and reported the “students” to the college SPAM reporting form.