Trent University's Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Trent Online are paving the way for educators to navigate the ever-evolving world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the post-secondary sector. Through a series of drop-in seminars, Teaching and Learning aims to empower educators at the University with insights into how AI can shape the classroom experience while shedding light on potential challenges and some guiding principles.
“AI is a fascinating and complex phenomenon that sits on a razor's edge in education, simultaneously causing and solving lots of problems,” explains Terry Greene, senior eLearning designer at Trent Online. “It's like a double-edged sword. On one hand, AI has the potential to revolutionize the post-secondary learning experience. However, we must acknowledge that AI tools are not neutral; they come with biases, uncertainties, and ethical considerations. Educators must navigate this delicate balance, ensuring that they embrace the benefits of AI while being cautious of its potential drawbacks.”
Greene acknowledges that the process of integrating AI into education will be an ongoing journey of discovery and adaptation, as educators work hard to find the delicate balance where AI enhances education while preserving the invaluable elements of active engagement, critical thinking, and personal connection.
Proceeding with preparation and caution
As educators explore the use of AI in their lecture halls, a balanced and informed perspective becomes crucial.
“Instructors need to think through where they want to position themselves in relation to AI,” says Dana Capell, senior education developer at CTL. “How, when, and to what extent do they want their students to use AI when completing assignments? Do they want to make changes to assessments due to AI generators' capabilities? Do they want to embrace the use of AI generators and, if so, how will they address potential privacy concerns?”
Capell says that it is these questions that highlight the need for educators to carefully consider the integration of AI in their courses while ensuring ethical considerations remain at the forefront.
Equipping educators for future of learning
To empower educators with the knowledge and tools to navigate the complexities of AI, Teaching and Learning’s summer seminars focus on fostering critical skills and responsible integration amongst educators and their students.
“During these sessions, faculty can meet with education developers and eLearning designers to discuss how they might like to adapt their courses or assessments, whether it be to protect their academic integrity or to engage the possibilities of AI,” says Capell.
By providing a platform for open dialogue and collaboration, the seminars aim to equip educators with the necessary resources to harness AI's potential while preserving the invaluable elements of post-secondary education. According to Dana, these sessions and other special lectures coordinated by CTL have helped educators look beyond the issue of academic integrity and their immediate concerns to consider the enormous implications of AI on higher education.
Refocusing the lens of student evaluation
Capell further emphasizes the importance of focusing on the process of learning. She suggests that educators should consider incorporating activities that encourage students to document their thinking, track sources, and demonstrate the evolution of their ideas. By doing so, instructors can assess more than just the end result and mitigate the misuse of AI generators.
“I believe that courses are most vulnerable to the misuse of AI generators when they focus solely on the final product that students are handing in rather than the process by which they developed that product.”
Greene also shares that educators should carefully assess the effectiveness of AI tools, as what works well for one department or classroom may not necessarily translate to another. Understanding that the impact of AI varies across different contexts, Teaching and Learning is actively developing guiding principles to support faculty and students in leveraging AI effectively.