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Equipping Educators for the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Equipping Educators for the Age of Artificial Intelligence

According to a recent survey conducted by the Cengage Group and Bay View Analytics, a mere 16% of educators feel adequately equipped to handle the transformative impact of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in the realm of higher education.

These findings reveal that while AI offers promising educational advancements, it also brings about strong academic honesty concerns. Educators must, therefore, be empowered with comprehensive AI knowledge, not to penalize students for using it in their assignments but to foster ethical and informed AI usage in academic settings.

As an Assistant Professor of Communication, I first noticed academic misuse of AI when I saw numerous students answer an online quiz question with similar off-topic answers. I asked them to reflect on Asia Rising, a documentary about Asian rappers, connecting it to our topic of media technology and cultural globalization. After I posed the quiz question to ChatGPT, I received a similar response to the ones submitted by the students about smartphone usage in Asia instead of hip-hop music.

Incidents like this highlight new academic misconduct issues. Without my background knowledge in internet research, I wouldn’t have so easily determined the source of the misunderstanding. However, uninformed instructors also need knowledge about AI to ensure the continuance of fair and credible student assessments. This knowledge is necessary because of uncertainty concerning how AI usage constitutes academic dishonesty.

In a Los Angeles Times essay, Professors Angela Duckworth and Lyle Ungar advocate using chatbots in classrooms as a teaching tool rather than banning them. “Instead, we must find a way forward in which such technologies complement, rather than substitute for, student thinking,” they write. Their perspective captures competing approaches to addressing this moment in educational history.

On the one hand, programs like the New York City Public Schools have chosen to ban ChatGPT outright, labeling its use as a violation of academic integrity. Indeed, as my experience shows, some students view ChatGPT as a tool that completes their work without considering its tendency to generate false information, thereby spreading misinformation.

Nevertheless, outright bans are impracticable and inefficient since it is difficult to tell when and if students use AI tools. AI use in assignments is a complex issue that differs from clear-cut plagiarism violations like submitting someone else’s work as one’s own. Furthermore, proposed solutions, such as‘s plagiarism detection software, are inconsistent in identifying AI-generated content.

In contrast to blanket bans, educational institutions like Stanford University have created teaching guides that encourage professors to adopt AI policies for their courses, supporting its use in specified capacities. However, while faculty-created AI content policies are essential, ethical practices rather than punitive measures should be their primary goal. To do so, guidance on constructing and enacting AI policies should go beyond a few web pages on a university website.

Instead, we need a comprehensive framework for AI use in the classroom, contingent on support for professional development by administrators. Professional development for educators regarding AI use, both as users and creators,should involve training that promotes the use of AI in curriculum enhancement by updating educators on this rapidly evolving technology.

Educators must also be equipped with the knowledge and tools to exert influence within the AI industry and shape policies that will inevitably impact their teaching settings. For example, the Center for Integrative Research in Computing and Learning Sciences (CIRCLS) hosted the AI and Education Policy Expertise Exchange, which brought together educators and industry leaders to shape the future of AI-driven learning and create innovative policy initiatives and resources. This project demonstrates that recommendations for addressing AI in education must be more than a few sentences in a syllabus.

Leaving such a massive transformation in technology for individual instructors to address. Educational institutions must support teachers and staff in understanding AI technologies and how they work before recommending or allowing them in the classroom. To maintain academic standards, administrators must give time and money for professional development around these technologies to equip their classroom workforce to set their AI content policies.

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