Higher Education Leaders Explore Impact of Generative AI

ChatGPT has already taught some university leaders that fear and backlash are unproductive and that generative AI should be a catalyst to rethink assignments and assessments.

A recent industry white paper queried a number of university academic and innovation officers to learn how they are navigating generative AI at their campuses. Due to the acceleration of interest since the introduction of ChatGPT, campus leaders are addressing how it impacts instruction and assessments as well as how the rapid adoption of a new technology can spur transformative change. Their opinions on the practical implications are summarized below.

Dr. Adam Fein, VP for Digital Strategy Innovation and Chief Digital Officer, University of North Texas

What might college look like when AI tools are fully embraced? Large language models like ChatGPT are good at explaining concepts concisely, generating code and content in structured syntax, and responding to a highly detailed prompt. However, they lack originality and don’t think critically; aren’t reliable for accuracy; and cite faulty or imaginary sources.

It’s not a good idea for institutions to ban it outright. ChatGPT may render certain professional tasks obsolete or unrecognizable changed, while also creating new tasks and skills to manage the rise of AI-enabled writing. Although ChatGPT threatens to destabilize white-collar work, it will also lead to new jobs that prioritize collaboration with generative AI models.

Dr. Steven Crawford, District Director for the Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation, Maricopa Community College

Faculty groups are exploring the potential impacts from academic integrity to how to adopt AI for use in the teaching and learning process. Maricopa is the first community college to offer and Associate of Applied Science Degree and Certificate of Completion in Artificial Intelligence.

We are considering how to change pedagogy to offer more authentic assessments that are more project based and experiment to see how large language models might be useful in creating learning experiences. We need to adapt so students are prepared to use emerging tools in their fields. We will need to change the curriculum to match what is happening in industry

Dr. Brian Arnold, Chair of the Department of Global Innovation, Social Emotional Learning and Educational Technology, National University

For assessment, we expect more nuanced, interactive, and complex activities that center on the individual student’s experiences. The largest changes will come in the way learning is delivered rather than the subject matter or platform. Emphasis on type of assessments is likely to increase as learners’ ability to partner with AI increases.

My advice is to create more opportunities for faculty and administrators to discuss implications. Use the tools and brainstorm ways to leverage the tools to better engage learners. We have enjoyed technological disruptions before and they are much less about the tool’s capacity and much more about our human capacity to adapt, evolve, and flourish when presented with change.

Dr. Jeffrey Alexander, VP of Academic Affairs Truckee Meadows Community College

I expect faculty to modify certain writing assignments to involve additional in-class work, peer-review, and peer editing. Some sort of AI-generated content detection will be needed as part of standard submission procedures.

The top priorities at two-year colleges should be the continued development of stacked credentials, especially short skills certificates that offer innovative and timely training to meet employers’ needs. Also we need to build a resilient bridge between high school CTE programs and CTE programs via concurrent enrollment.

Predictions Include:

  • Evolving academic integrity policies where AI detection is a component but not a complete solution. With generated text, students aren’t copying from someone else; it’s novel text generated with AI. It’s so new that students may not understand that copying from these platforms without credit is a form of dishonesty. With ChatGPT calling into question the potential and relevancy of plagiarism detection software, institutions may evaluate if budgets can be better utilized for something more relevant in the post-AI world.
  • Shifting curriculum design and learning objectives will move toward more formative assessments rather than summative. More educators are designing assignments that use AI tools. Institutions are evaluating learning objectives to better prepare students to coexist with AI in the workplace. Generative AI is expected to transform tools and process in many professions, from copywriting to coding. Students need to develop prompt engineering, fact checking, and editing and curation skills. Suggested courses might include Generative AI in Journalism…in Marketing…in the Creative Arts, etc.
  • Adopting AI to support student success will become more evident. Innovative institutions are already using the potential of AI for feedback speed, personalization, and student support. An emerging approach called “Instructional AI” marries the most effective elements of generative AI with pedagogical principles supporting student learning and growth. Instructional AI partners can play a key role in creating personalized, real-time feedback loops for students that help them develop mastery and build confidence.

For a deeper dive into these opinions and predictions, read the Packpack white paper.