Skip to main content

Unleashing Creativity: Exploring the Use of Generative AI Tools for Teaching and Learning

Generative Artificial Intelligence is one of the hottest topics in higher education for many reasons. On August 23, 2023, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel for a Back to School Adobe Cafe' Webinar series again this Fall where our panel discussed views on the impact generative AI tools will have in teaching and learning. I will begin by first saying that I've been around education long enough to know that when new technology comes, we must embrace it, learn it, co-exist with it, and teach students the best ways to ethically use it. For the last year, I have been actively researching, reading, and trying the various new generative AI tools that have been released in an open resource format.

In November of 2022, the Center for Innovative and Transformative Instruction (CITI) at WSSU began getting calls and emails when our faculty returned to campus after the holidays, mainly inquiring about a new digital AI tool that had just launched called ChatGPT. Most questions were asking What is this? and How can we prevent students from using it? Many of the concerns were around academic dishonesty, plagiarism using the tools, and how this tool could potentially change the way we teach and learn in higher education.

CITI Team started researching articles and gathering all information we could to learn more about generative AI tools, specifically Open AI and a tool called ChatGPT immediately. We also planned a lunch and learn workshop that faculty could attend and learn more which was in collaboration with the HBCU Faculty Development Network in March 2023. CITI livestreamed the webinar/workshop, and then the participants had an open round table discussion afterwards.

What I have learned over the last six months is that often when we hear the words “Artificial Intelligence,” most people either do one of two things: Smile with delight and excitement OR cringe with doubt or fear.  Depending on our teaching discipline or content area usually impacts the reaction. Most in corporate areas or Information Technology driven fields are the ones smiling at the possibilities. Often times, we educators are the ones cringing in doubt or even fear. 

In researching and engaging with some of the top experts on generative AI tools over the last year, I want to share some of my insights on the benefits of Generative AI tools and how we can leverage the use in the classrooms. Here are some facts we know as educators:

  • Students know about Generative AI and are intrigued by it.
  • Students will use Generative AI whether we as educators understand it, like it or not like it.
  • Some are calling it “disruptive technology” but we have forgotten that we have seen other “disruptive technology” in the past and learned to engage students with it. (Internet, Google, smart phones, Wikipedia, and even calculators for those of us who go way back)
  • AI is only going to get bigger, better, and more accessible at every level.
  • More professional development for faculty is needed soon on this topic. According to EdSurge, “Bridging that gap, and easing fears, will lie in getting educators acquainted with AI — a training need underscored by the fact that 96 percent of the 1,000 educators that Clever surveyed said they have not received professional development on the topic.”
  • We can either embrace it with ways to use for learning support, or we can run from it and let it guide our classrooms, instruction, and class management.

During Summer 2023, CITI drafted an informal AI statement or a guide to support faculty with decisions around using AI in the classroom and if their students use it. It is not a policy nor a syllabus statement but rather a guide to give some insight on faculty options around using and accepting generative AI. This academic year, CITI will develop an AI Task Force to help develop a more intentional statement or policy reflective of generative AI use at WSSU.

Things We Can Do Now as Faculty, Staff, and Administrators:

  • Provide more opportunities for faculty development promoting awareness and easing fears.
  • Bring educators together in faculty learning communities from different disciplines to share activities on how they use AI tools.
  • Create virtual or in person dialogue groups to informally chat and share concerns about the tools.
  • Explore, meet, and hear from others who may feel the same way or can offer some suggestions for ease of understanding.
  • TRY THE TOOLS YOURSELF.* You will be surprised at what can be done with them.
  • Don’t use scare tactics with students. We all know how that works. If they are told to stay away from it, then they are going to use it. 😊

So, as you continue this Fall semester, please remember that we cannot run from AI; it is here and only going to get more advanced and accessible to students. Let's learn more and show students the best ways to harness it to enhance their learning with generative AI tools.

*Just so you know, the title for this blog was generated with support by ChatGPT because I needed help deciding on one.

More Blogs

Great Teaching Still Matters

Recent news reports reflect a dismal view of higher education, specifically the preparation of students for the workforce after graduation. Essential to this process is the role of faculty in teaching students and creating an effective learning environment.

Read Moreabout Great Teaching Still Matters

Creating a Liquid Syllabus (Can different formats of information engage students?)

It tells your students everything from when the class will meet to when the last assignment will be due. It’s the key to how a student should navigate a course, and a place for instructors to give special instructions and expectations for the course.

Read Moreabout Creating a Liquid Syllabus (Can different formats of information engage students?)

Interactions: A Key to Quality Classrooms

Interaction is central to the learning process. It is difficult to imagine an educational experience that does not involve some sort of interaction. Several theorists have identified different modes of interaction in educational contexts such as that between and among students, teachers, and the content that is to be learned (Anderson, 2003).

Read Moreabout Interactions: A Key to Quality Classrooms