Artificial Intelligence vs Higher Education

Artificial Intelligence

COVID-19 has taken the world of higher learning by storm. The new standard required colleges and universities to respond quickly to the needs of students and teachers. Just as the world seems to be regaining its equilibrium after the global healthcare crisis, artificial intelligence is the latest concern.

There has been an increased discussion about the future of education and how AI could impact teaching and learning. Here are some lingering issues to be discussed: What AI technologies are being used today? Will cheating become more prevalent? How can institutions react to AI? How can we engage students in their learning? Will students prefer to use AI or pay someone to write my research paper?

Current AI tools used in Academia

In spite of some social media outrage over new developments in AI, many students and teachers are using AI-generated tools. Grammarly is one of the most popular AI-writing programs. Grammarly’s purpose is to help users improve their writing by offering spelling, grammar, and structural support. The tool is constantly evolving in order to provide the best possible support to its users.

Grammarly is a tool that some higher education institutions use for both faculty and students. Because it’s an AI-writing program, programs like Turnitin can flag assignments edited with Grammarly as AI-generated, even if they are original pieces. TurnItIn, a software for detecting plagiarism, has updates that are geared towards detecting AI-generated texts in student work. The company claims a success rate of 98% with instructors and Learning Management System (LMS) integrations.

When considering the use of AI tools, there are populations to consider. AI is often used to help English Language Learners and students with disabilities receive the best possible education. Students with visual impairments can benefit from image and facial recognition software, while QuillBot is a text tool that helps students with difficulties in summarizing written content or understanding it. There is no one tool or software that can meet the needs of every learner. It’s therefore important to take into account special populations before taking a position on AI use in academic settings.

Will cheating increase?

AI may be a factor in the increase of cheating. Reports show that college students are not interested in using the AI tools available to them. Colleges and universities are concerned about academic integrity. It is therefore important to update the definition of cheating or academic dishonesty in light of new tools. The hyper-emergence AI can be a call to institutional leadership to work with faculty and staff on developing policies and procedures for ethical and acceptable usage of emerging tools.

Arianna Stokes, a professor at the University of California, writes: “Whether instructors are in favor or against AI for teaching and training, they must be able identify AI tools to understand how they impact teaching and teaching.”

Some tools, such as Grammarly, are supplementary academic support tools for students to improve their original written work. ChatGPT is a tool that presents a unique ethical situation when it comes to AI. ChatGPT is able to create entire written works and pull data from a variety of sources. Instructors may need to retrain students on research, teach them the difference between primary and secondary sources and encourage them to check the validity, bias and reliability of the sources they find.

Institutions’ Response to AI Developments

When moving forward with AI, institutions need to take into account two populations. The first thing institutions need to consider is how AI developments will impact learning (students). After that, the institution will have to work with faculty members to determine how AI will impact teaching (faculty).

Yale University has developed a AI Resource Page to help faculty and staff adapt to AI integrations within higher education. This may be useful for institutions that are unsure of their next step in regards to AI. Decisions will need to be taken eventually, but it’s better to make them sooner rather than later.

AI has already changed the way students access and learn from educational materials. The first step is to decide what is acceptable and ethical use. Next, you need to communicate this message to students in a consistent manner. Students with learning disabilities and those who are in asynchronous environments should receive special consideration, since they interact more with the content than staff. This messaging should therefore be included on resource pages and welcome materials, and embedded into course syllabuses.

Instructors, whether they are in favor of or against AI-based teaching and training, need to know how AI tools can impact teaching and education. Here’s where learning and professional development opportunities are important. Institutions must give faculty reliable resources if they want them to be able make informed decisions regarding the dangers of academic integrity.

Engaging Students in Learning

Instructors may be concerned that student engagement will decrease now that AI tools are less dependent on user input. The Office of the Provost at George Washington University published a document that includes recommendations for teaching practices and learning methods that encourage student engagement with content.

There are two ways that instructors can approach their work:

Integrate AI in the teaching and learning process. Instructors must create a plan that includes policies, procedures, and non-negotiables to help them identify possible uses of AI tools, or promote ethical use of the ones already available.

Redesign the teaching and learning material to protect against heavy AI infiltration. To do this, courses may need to include real-world prompts or application topics to empower students to create work that reflects their environment. The two methods will take up instructor time. However, with the increasing use of AI, instructors may have to spend more time cleaning up the mess, or preparing it.

We’ve done this before. We’ve seen the internet evolve from dial-up speed to high-speed. Once used only for short calls, T-9 texts and “snake”, cell phones have evolved into 4-inch, wifi-powered computers.

Already, we’ve seen technology transform the way we learn and teach. AI will be around for a long time. It’s time for AI to be shaped.

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