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How to Design Essay Assignments if Students can Access ChatGPT or Other Similar Tools February 18, 2023 Posted in: ChatGPT
(Created by MidJourney under Basic Plan)


ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot developed by OpenAI. ChatGPT currently can communicate with clients through text conservations and can execute complicated language tasks, including summarization. Alternatives to ChatGPT include Perplexity.AI and Quora Poe. These bots can facilitate teaching, learning and assessment in the long term. Meanwhile, in this blog post, we mainly discuss on:

  1. How to identify essays through detection tools or other mechanisms, and
  2. How to design ChatGPT-resilient essay assignments and other assessments.

Identifying essays that ChatGPT creates

It is always challenging to detect essays that ChatGPT creates. Since ChatGPT created different responses every time, even with the same prompt, it is difficult for “Turnitin Similarity” to detect contents created by ChatGPT.  As told by colleagues from Turnitin, Turnitin is currently developing tools for detection.

There are existing detection tools, including GPTZero, Open AI Text Classifier and Writer AI Content Detector. These detectors often detect the perplexity and burstiness of the article to identify if the article is created by humans. You can also simply import the article to ChatGPT to calculate the perplexity and burstiness of the article. These tools are user-friendly, but these detectors often cannot provide a correct judgement in our testing. 

If multiple essays from the same students are provided, we can check whether the writing style across essays is similar. Teachers can analyse manually or through computational linguistics tools like Coh-Metrix. For example, students often write essays with American or British spelling only, and with a similar standard deviation of the mean length of paragraphs and the mean length of sentences as well as referential cohesion (and some other computational linguistics metrics).

Besides analysing the content and writing style, we can also examine the metadata of the essay submission files. If students submit the essay through MS Word files, you can check if there are abnormalities in the properties of the essay file. If students used MS Word throughout the writing process, there should be several revisions, and the date created and modified should not be too close. Students can also provide a version history if students used Google Docs for writing.

Designing ChatGPT-resilient essay assignments

Besides analysing the content of the essay, you can also identify essays by analysing the writing process. For example, you can ask students to: 

  • Submit draft notes or a writing plan in the early stage of the assignment (and compare them with the final essay) 
  • Record the writing process through Zoom screen sharing 
  • Reflect on the writing process and evaluate the meta-cognitive process of the student

Teachers can also ask students to write multiple essays such that we can examine if the writing style is different across essays.

As reported in recent studies published on arXiv (Study 1 and Study 2), ChatGPT currently is still not perfect in some reasoning skills, including inductive reasoning, non-textual semantic reasoning (spatial reasoning, mathematical reasoning), multi-hop reasoning, physical reasoning and psychological reasoning. Teachers can consider designing essay questions that partially assess the abovementioned reasoning skills. Teachers can read these studies for more details and get inspired to create appropriate essay questions. For example, 

  • Teachers can think about designing assignments that require explanation through infographics, figures and maps. 
  • Teachers can add atypical requirements that systems often overlook, such as “In the third sentence of your response, the first word should be started with the letter “C” and one of the words should be started with the letter “V” “. 
  • Teachers can ask students to provide more references to support their arguments.

These practices can increase the hurdles of directly copying content generated from AI tools as answers.

Teachers are also encouraged to assess students in multiple ways and examine whether students’ performance in essay assessments aligns with other assessments.

Using ChatGPT ethically in assignments and T&L

If you allow students to use ChatGPT in your assignments, besides providing proper citations, you can consider asking students to write an additional reflection on the following:

  • The comparison between human development and AI-facilitated development
  • Their experience in using ChatGPT to speed up the development process
  • Current limitations and how the AI-facilitated development process could be improved.

You can find more ideas from Dr Ethan Mollick from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr Sean McMinn from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on using AI tools to facilitate teaching, learning and assessments. Other interesting ChatGPT prompts can be found online.


Author: Dr Leon Lei

The author has used Grammarly to polish the article, but has not used ChatGPT in the writing process. The recording of the writing process can be found at The article may be further updated without notice.

HKU NEW FinTech Course: FinTech Technologies on edX December 12, 2022 Posted in: edX, FinTech, MOOC

Learn the top FinTech technologies that are transforming today’s world of finance and technology

FinTech is not only a major strategic focus in the banking and finance industry around the world. The fast-moving FinTech technologies also create opportunities and pose challenges to global financial institutions, large tech giants, techfins, retailers and other global companies and the legal and compliance sectors. Besides technology innovations and R&D in FinTech, nurturing FinTech talents and attracting students and professionals to the FinTech arena is very important.


In this MOOC, we will discuss six advanced technologies that drive transformation in the finance and technology industries today from a layman’s perspective. The contents will focus on how these technologies are used in FinTech applications including, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and big data analytics in daily scenarios such as insutech, robo-advisory, intelligent transport monitoring, applications in green finance, as well as, blockchain and distributed ledger technology in banking and DiFi.

Click to learn more

E-learning for All – A Toolkits Series November 24, 2022

(For HKU staff and students only)

Instructional design, educational technologies, video production, user interface, online collaboration, digital literacy … and so on. These are the key elements that often come up in people’s mind when talking about the development of online curriculum. Many teachers are willing to enrich student learning experiences or make learning more effective by turning their course into a flipped classroom or a blended learning format but feel somewhat headless on how to start.

The use of powerful and user-friendly e-learning tools is essential for teachers to generate engaging contents and learning activities in the online context. Therefore, we’ve prepared the E-learning for All – A Toolkits Series workshops to introduce a range of EdTech tools that can help teachers transform their courses and enhance learning experiences. 

Diverse tools in the current market are providing great possibilities, this workshop will focus on the following most common toolkits and provide related examples. We hope that, with creative, cost-effective, and easy-to-master technologies, everyone can be an instructional designer!

Venue: Virtual Venue – via Zoom
Speaker: Dr Leon Lei, Ms Lynn H. Lin, Ms Marie Tao, Ms Yidan Li, Ms Yuyue Wang
Number of seats: 300 per workshop

▪  Miro workshop 12:30 – 13:30, 2 Dec 2022 (Friday)
▪  Camtasia workshop (Basic)* 12:30 – 13:30, 6 Dec 2022 (Tuesday)
▪  Camtasia workshop (Advanced)* 12:30 – 13:30, 7 Dec 2022 (Wednesday)
▪  Canva workshop 12:30 – 13:30, 9 Dec 2022 (Friday)
▪  Notion workshop 12:30 – 13:30, 20 Dec 2022 (Tuesday)

*Please indicate if you’re a Mac user or a Windows user in the registration

All are welcome!

For enquiries, please contact us at

HKU MOOC is edX Prize Top Finalist for 5 consecutive years November 21, 2022 Posted in: edX, HKUx, MOOC, surgery


edX announced the world’s Top MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) shortlisted for 2022 edX Prize – Innovation in Online Teaching on Nov 17 2022. HKU MOOC So You Want To Be A Surgeon? is named 2022 edX Prize Finalist this year. The MOOC is led by Dr. Ian Yu-Hong Wong, Professor Stephen Wing-Keung Cheng and Professor Kent-Man Chu of the Department of Surgery with the support of HKU’s Technology Enriched Learning Initiative unit. This is the fifth consecutive year that HKU MOOC has gained global recognition as edX Prize Finalist.

According to Anant Agarwal, edX Founder and Chief Platform Officer at 2U, “the MOOCs on edX are committed to provide the world’s best open education to more than 46 million learners.” In addressing the prestigious 2022 edX Prize, Anant said, “this year’s finalists are recognized for creating best-in-class online learning experiences that deliver learner-centric, impactful outcomes on the edX platform.”

Being recognised as top 10 finalist out of thousands of MOOCs for five consecutive years attest to HKU’s continued pursuit of excellence and dedication in online course design and production and this achievement reflects the course team’s innovative spirit to inspire and upskill learning beyond international boundaries and time zones.

First-of-its-kind co-production by 15 surgical subspecialties

HKU So You Want To Be A Surgeon? is a first-of-its-kind surgery MOOC co-created by 40 world-class surgical experts from 15 subspecialties of HKU’s Department of Surgery (including vascular, thyroid, breast, gastrointestinal, colorectal, hepatobiliary and pancreatic, transplant, head and neck, plastic and reconstructive surgeries, urology, paediatric, trauma, cardiothoracic surgeries, and neurosurgery). This unique co-creation truly exemplifies the team work and cross-disciplinary collaboration that are crucial in carrying out a life-saving operation.

21st century work-based learning experience

The MOOC aims to help young students aspiring to become surgeons and physicians to learn about common clinical and surgical conditions, and modern advances and cutting-edge technologies in surgical practice at HKU Medicine and in the world. To create a robust learning experience for the 21st century learners, the course integrated subject domain learning with a work-based learning experience (WBL), providing career-relevant knowledge and experience sharing by 30+ local and international surgeons from different career stages.

The role of gender and achieving work-life balance for female surgeons

The job of a surgeon is both physically and mentally demanding for both male and female surgeons – one has to endure long hours of extremely high-focused work in an operating theater without rest. Today, gender perceptions in pursuing surgery as a career have changed and more aspiring female students have joined the world of surgery. Achieving work-life balance is never easy, in particular for the highly demanding work of a surgeon. Learners in the course are invited to view and follow six female surgeons who are at different stages of their career to learn about what surgery means to these females, and how they found work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Register the Course on edX:

Course Registration: on-going

Course Length: 6 Weeks

Prerequisite: No entry requirement

Course Payment: Free of charge for all learners in the Audit Track

(Audit Learners have an option to upgrade for a Verified Certificate, see the course page for details.)

edX Prize 2022 Finalists:
Career 360 via EdX

Free HKU Online Course: Doing Gender and Why it Matters September 28, 2022 Posted in: Gender Equality, MOOC

Doing Gender and Why it Matters (4th Re-run) is a 6-week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) taught by more than 20 faculty members from HKU and professionals engaged in gender-related developments in Asia. The course starts on 28 September on edX.

Doing Gender and Why it Matters is taught by over 20 HKU instructors,  practitioners and academics in the field.

Why are we creating an online course about gender? More specifically, why does gender matter?

As you will be aware of from recent media coverage, gender is everywhere in society. Our daily lives are embedded in gender. From our social roles, to our attitudes and behaviours, to our interactions with others, and in our work, gender is ever present. Now with the call for gender equality gaining public prominence, we hope to give you the tools and lens for understanding what exactly is gender – moreover, to be aware of certain gender stereotypes and unconscious biases that are ever present.

Let’s take this 6-week journey to unveil myths, taboos, and knowledge about gender together, navigating cross-culturally, historically, philosophically and sociologically. Some of the questions we’ll explore include: How do we define gender? What assumptions and biases emerge in our relationships within the family, work and politics? How does the media construct gender? How should we interpret the recent #metoo campaign? Sexual harassment, discrimination, sexual violence are gender relevant social issues that we will take you through.

What to expect after taking this course?

After six weeks, you will become an expert on gender issues, and be able to have your own critical perspectives about them to evaluate current events. Even more, to start having these conversations with your friends and family and make an impact!

What’s new in the 4th rerun course?

A new thematic unit of “Gender in Health System and Policy Gender” with a series of video lessons in Sexuality Education is added to the “Private and Public Spheres” unit in the Rerun course. Among the new topics are HIV/AIDS, The Social Construction of Female and Male Body and Sexuality Education.

A bit more about us…

‘Doing Gender and Why it Matters?’ is MOOC course offered by the University of Hong Kong. Led by Prof. Karen Joe Laidler from Department of Sociology, in collaboration with the Women Study’s Research Centre (WSRC), this course is a joint effort of scholars from different discipline such as law, history, culture, sexuality, who feel strongly about gender issues in Hong Kong, and wider globe.

Course Registration:

Course Start Date: 28 Sep 2022

Course Length: 6 Weeks

Prerequisite: No entry requirement

Course Payment: Free of charge for all learners in the Audit Track

(Audit Learners have an option to upgrade for a Verified Certificate, see the course page for details.)

 Click to Enrol Now