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April 29, 2024

Insights from a faculty session to Integrate AI in teaching practice

This blog is in two parts and was written by Dr. Neha Gupta and Dr. Susanne Beck, Assistant Professors, ISMA Group, Warwick Business School.

Part 1: Planning to deliver a faculty session to integrate AI into teaching practice (Date: 19th April 2024)

This blog share ideas under consideration in preparation to lead a faculty session about integrating AI in Teaching and Learning practices in various forms in a Higher Education setting. The session will be one of the parallel breakout sessions during the annual event at Warwick Business School, the Teaching and Learning Symposium 2023-24, where faculty from all groups (i.e. various disciplines) engage in peer dialogues, discussions, and activities around how the learning and teaching needs in the higher education landscape are evolving. The broad aims of the session are to inspire discussions and ideas about how to use Generative AI (GenAI) and emerging technologies to foster relevant skills enhancing students' employability.

The leading faculty (co-authors of this blog) plan to use a pool of resources from the WIHEA AI Learning Circle, JISC and a Harvard AI pedagogy project to stimulate discussion on the use of AI practices across higher education. A demo of hands-on examples and of AI Tools and prompts used by colleagues from WBS and beyond, such as Ethan Mollick, will help the attendees see how practically they can engage with AI, for example in setting up assessment tasks with the use of ChatGPT. A notable aspect of the session will be the demonstration of AI tools. For example, CODY AI, a web-based AI tool capable of generating bots to address student queries efficiently by using LLM will be demonstrated using the existing knowledge base from the student handbook to answer dissertation related queries. This demonstration will exemplify how AI can streamline administrative tasks, such as responding to common student inquiries, thereby optimising staff resources and minimising response times.

As the job market evolves, students must be equipped with both domain-specific knowledge and technological proficiency. Integrating AI into teaching not only prepares students for future careers but also empowers them to engage with and leverage technology responsibly. The AI technology is out there and students are going to be using AI tools in their future work places. During their job interviews they will be asked about these tools and about their opinion on these tools. As educators, it is our responsibility to provide students with opportunities to experiment with these tools during their learning journey and allow them to form their own experiences and opinions. Perhaps, educators should recognise that they should have an open mind to experiment with emerging AI tools that offer immense potential in enhancing teaching and assessment practices. Yet, its implementation must be guided by ethical considerations and a commitment to fostering critical thinking skills among students.

Part 2: Insights from faculty session to Integrate AI in teaching practice (Date: 25th April 2024)

This blog share insights from the delivery of faculty session at WBS teaching and learning symposium (an account of which is mentioned in the blog above). The potential of AI tools revolutionising the student supporting task with the use of Cody AI for answering queries sparked discussions amongst colleagues and on its implementation across various educational contexts. For example colleagues were concerned about:

  1. Copyrighted information shared on public domains unless such tools are contractually brought into the university ecosystem where such challenges can be managed through a more formal implementation of such AI tools in a university setting.
  2. Hallucinations or information made-up by AI tools given the underlying LLM layers. In the demonstrated case of Cody AI bot, however, the answers the Bot gives is primarily based on the knowledge base provided by the user.

Though colleagues had a consensus that committing to innovation and the integration of such AI tools into teaching practices holds the promise of both, creating more efficient handling of student queries as well as enhancing their learning experiences in higher education.

The break out session further delved into using AI for assessments. Hands-on examples of prompts and outcomes where shared within the session, exploring benefits for both educators and students. For educators, GenAI tools can be used to develop creative assignments more efficiently, that require students to critically engage with AI generated content. For instance, instead of preparing a recap-exercise at the beginning of a class, asking students what they remember, teachers can ask students to critically review a text about a given topic and identify (purposefully included) false claims, and share their thoughts with their neighbours. Besides subject knowledge, this exercise sensitises students that even text that might sound good, may be factually wrong. Both the text as well as the instructions can be generated by ChatGPT in an instant, making it easily replicable and customisable for educators (see another example, asking students to write a critical essay, here).

For students, such assignments can help them develop skills such as critical thinking. But through the use of GenAI they may also be empowered to leverage individualised learning opportunities and stimulate their curiosity. For example, in his recent book, Ethan Mollick showcases a potential methodology to encourage students to experiment with tasks they have no experience in. For his entrepreneurship class, he asks students to take the development of a business idea a step further and come up with a website or even develop an app for their business – especially when they have no experience with coding. This opens a new space for students to experiment and become creative, another skill enhancing their future employability.

For students to thrive through the use of GenAI in the classroom, however, the discussions in the session emphasised two important boundary conditions: First, students need to be given the space to experiment with using AI, as well as other emerging technologies. Providing them with space includes aspects such as rewarding ambitious ideas rather than penalising if they fail in persuasion. Second, a responsible usage of AI needs to find its place in the students’ curriculum. Teachers cannot expect students to be fully knowledgeable about the most recent capabilities and risks related to such a dynamic technology. Schools and educators need to provide them with the necessary training.

At the end of the breakout session, the attending faculty were invited to join a discussion, imagining themselves a) in the student’s role and share What could be students concerns when receiving an assignment that asks you to use AI? What steps an educator takes to address these concerns?; or b) in the teacher’s role, thinking about What could be your concerns when designing an assignment that asks students to use AI? What would they (teachers) need to address their concerns? The discussion generated below key takeaways that underscored the importance of ethical AI integration, ongoing teacher professional development in AI literacy, and the need for a balance between technological advancement and human-centric pedagogy:

  1. Invest time to train ourselves first then further share AI related knowledge with our students.
  2. Avoid falling into the AI trap – i.e. students still need step by step guidance in terms of what is expected from them in their assessment task with minimum ambiguity in the instructions.
  3. Incorporate AI as a step towards innovation by evolving our teaching practices by going beyond the AI tool and being valuable as a knowledge expert (both in setting up assessments and teaching content) (see also Mollick & Mollick, 2024).
  4. Teaching and learning tasks should be aligned to learning outcomes and not incorporate AI just for the sake of it or for perceived pressure. AI and emerging technologies should be considered powerful means to achieve learning outcomes more effectively.

Feel free to reach out to Dr. Neha Gupta neha.gupta@wbs.ac.uk for more details about the session.


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