What are some ways faculty can effectively incorporate AI in the classroom?


Artificial intelligence (AI) developments and usage will continue to expand swiftly across the world. In the interest of our University’s mission to prepare our students for life, work and citizenship in the twenty-first century, we must lean into evolving technologies such as AI. Our campus community is encouraged to learn about and integrate innovative AI solutions in a responsible, secure and ethical manner. By embracing AI ourselves, we can more effectively prepare our students for their futures. We expect to update this information and add additional articles to the Knowledge Base to stay current with the rapidly evolving AI technologies, address questions that arise, and incorporate new or changing regulations and best practices. 


What are some ways faculty can effectively incorporate AI in the classroom?


Helping Students Learn and Use AI 

One approach to helping students understand the limitations of this technology is to take time in your course to guide them through learning how it works. Invite your students to use generative AI as the starting place for an essay or to take what they've written and use one of these platforms to give them feedback. If they use it to start essays, they will quickly notice the limitations and learn the amount of work it takes to transform the output into something that will get a good grade. This kind of exercise can be used to help students learn what good writing looks like and how to edit well. 

When asking generative AI for feedback, what is given is limited and usually focuses on content rather than grammar or organization. They tend to structure feedback by giving positive comments about some items and suggesting a change or two (usually no more than that) on others. Try having the students evaluate their papers using the AI and then evaluate the feedback that they were given. Then, have an open conversation with your class about what they think and what they see the potential for in the future. 

While there are plenty of meaningful and appropriate ways for this technology to be leveraged by students and instructors, and certainly technological limitations are still prevalent, it may also be useful to guide students through considering the ethical implications of such technologies. As part of this ethical discussion, you may also want to consider leading your students through an activity exploring the limitations and shortcomings of the technology in its current form. If you ask your students to create an account for a Generative AI, take a moment to note the privacy considerations. When you can’t see how a tool like this is generating revenue, there’s reason to be cautious about the user potentially becoming the product. 

Communicating AI Expectations with Students

Within a learning environment, the instructor sets the terms for the class. If you want your students to use or avoid generative AI for various aspects of your course, it’s important to set those expectations clearly. Different instructors will take different approaches. You may want to encourage use of AI in some contexts, like brainstorming essay ideas (provided they make substantive edits on their own and it’s clear that their own voice and ideas come through), but ban it in other contexts like discussion boards or exams where the language needs to be personal, highly conversational, or serves as a reflection of the student’s knowledge. No matter what your stance, be sure to issue clear guidance to students about when, if at all, you consider it appropriate for them to use these tools. 

Keep in mind that these tools are publicly accessible, and it will ultimately be up to students to decide whether or not to use them. While there are technological approaches to identifying writing that was produced by AI, those tools remain of questionable value given the AI is designed to replicate common approaches to writing. They can also be fooled relatively easily by making small edits to the original output.

One approach to helping ensure academic integrity is to encourage students to think carefully about the costs and benefits of using AI technologies. Whatever policy you decide to set for your course, sharing your rationale with your students alongside a conversation about the policy may be a useful approach to encouraging compliance. This may also serve as a good opportunity to facilitate a broader discussion regarding the ethics of using these types of technologies in your classroom or other contexts. 

Due to the prevalent use of AI tools amongst students, all faculty are encouraged to talk with their students about their expectations around AI, and include a statement about their expectations/policies around student use of AI in coursework.

Instructor Use 

There are many ways in which these tools can be useful to you as an instructor, and as an academic more broadly. As you play around with it, we invite you to try asking the generative AI to try completing the kinds of tasks you do as an instructor. For example, try having it create lesson plans, lecture outlines, discussion questions, etc. To be clear this is not us stating to use what it generates, but as you test it out, you’ll notice that it often has some useful ideas that you can use as a starting point. 

Below are some questions that may help guide you in your exploration of how to incorporate this tool into your educational environment: 

  • Can I use this tool to help develop content that I will be teaching? 
  • Can I create content with this tool for students to evaluate? 
  • How might I be able to have my students use this tool in relation to my course learning goals? 
  • What conversations can I have with my students about such tools? 

For example, one way to use this for student learning goals is to have the generative AI create an essay about a topic relevant to your course. Students would then be asked to edit the essay to sharpen their evaluation and feedback skills. Maybe you tell them it was generated by an AI. Maybe you give a white lie and tell them it was a student from a previous semester to see if any of them might catch that it is actually algorithmically compiled. There are a lot of different ways faculty are incorporating these tools into their courses, and new ones will continue to emerge as more people interact with these technologies to innovate their personal and professional lives. Time will tell what and when new applications will be developed! 

Faculty are encouraged to reach out to SCSU Online for help integrating AI into their coursework. 

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Article ID: 146839
Mon 8/14/23 10:58 AM
Tue 1/2/24 9:44 AM

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