Let’s Talk About AI in Our Work in the Community College
It has really only been 3 months since ChatGPT was released and there has been an explosion of articles, conversations, policies, discussions, rules, and more that are emerging and multiplying exponentially. I think that this is reflective of the impact that AI is having on Higher Education. On the one hand, there are arguments and policies being drafted for how we “stop the cheating” and “ensure academic integrity;” and on the other side there are arguments for “embrace the technology” and “rethink the way you teach.” This reminds me, as I date myself and my career here, when we entered the era of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is when the internet went from static pages (users consumed information); to generative web pages – (users created content).
Bryan Alexander wrote an article published in Educause back in 2006, “Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning” and while it was very much about the innovation emerging in 2006 such as social bookmarking and RSS much of what he said about their impact on higher education is applicable to now with the emergence of generative AI. One quote he wrote, “Web 2.0’s lowered barrier to entry may influence a variety of cultural forms with powerful implications for education.” Replace Web 2.0 with Generative AI and we are considering the same implications for education. I think with most innovation there will emerge two opposing opinions and AI is no different. This document, started by an individual at College Unbound, has quickly generated a list of institutional policies that are quickly being created in response to ChatGPT and more are added daily. This document alone demonstrates through language the wide range of expectations when it comes to AI and teaching and learning. From strict “zero tolerance” policies to “this is important to learn how to use” policies, this document demonstrates the wide range of believes that come with generative AI. The Chronicle of Higher Education already has some 15 articles about ChatGPT also offering varying thoughts and ideas about how AI should be used in higher education.
In Maricopa we have departments discussing it at meetings, conversations (digital and in person) back and forth about the amazing things and the “horrifying” things it can do, and what it means to our traditional methods of teaching. We have communities of practice where faculty come together and share thoughts, ideas, resources, explore topics such as content policies, what does generative AI mean for Intellectual Property, copyright, what does it mean for the writing process, what does it mean to create art, and more. I find it all exciting. While the conversations vary from cheating, plagiarism, academic integrity, to emerging technology, leveraging innovation, new ways of thinking about writing, etc…it all, fundamentally, is a conversation about how we teach, why we teach, what our goals are for teaching, what is important to student learning, what is important for critical thinking, writing, communicating, expressing ones self, and so much more. Higher Education, especially in the Community College‘s, is about teaching and learning and should always be transformative. For students and for faculty. Our practice should always change, our students change, our culture changes, our communities change, our understanding of our discipline changes, new things are discovered in our disciplines, new ways of using innovation in our disciplines change…teaching should always change if we are to stay current in our fields and help students succeed.
In Maricopa one of our Excellence in Teaching and Learning Guiding Principles is: Creativity and Innovation. This principle says Maricopa faculty, “evoke a spirit of curiosity, wonder, and imagination in our students. Holding creativity and innovation in high regard, we stretch beyond what is established into what is possible.” I think now is such a time for considering “what is possible.”
I know there are many in the district already using AI in their courses. I want to share some of the creative ways faculty have shared with us in how they are using ChatGPT, Dall-E, MuseNet, Dall-E 2, Whisper, etc. While I am not saying there isn’t a time and place for the academic integrity and plagiarism conversation, because there definitely is, however, our work in in this space is to “lead and inspire innovative teaching” and one of the best ways is to learn from each other.
Here are a few examples, shared by faculty in the district, on ways they are using AI in their courses:
- Asking students to use ChatGPT to write potential test questions, revise/correct as needed, and submit the original and the revised versions.
- Use ChatGPT to do a case study and have the students evaluate if it is correct or incorrect
- Use ChatGPT to research specific topics then have the students evaluate/correct the results. As an example, “explain what a torn ACL is and what the common treatment is” then have the students research to assess if it is correct, fix what is wrong, and add to it to include certain aspects of a case study like that.
- Use ChatGPT to generate an essay, ask for its resources, then have the students research the resources used and have them find better ones and write up a summary about their opinion on the resources that ChatGPT used and why they choose to add the ones they did, etc.
- Have students use ChatGPT to fact check something- then have the students fact check ChatGPT’s fact checking
- Use ChatGPT to generate an initial writing prompt and then have the students write the next portion
- Redesign essays that are intended to serve as a “summary” and instead have students write reflection essays on the content where they write about example of the concept in their own lives. Example: Instead of “summarizing Plato’s Republic” have students write about a concept in that book based on an experience in their own lives and how the book influenced their perception of that experience.
- Use in-class experiences for assignment ideas…a speaker, a recorded video, an in class/lab experience, a discussion, etc. that they then complete an assignment about that experience. (because AI can’t be in class with them)
- Provide students with a “conclusion” to an essay, argument, etc. and have them to build a reference list/citations for that conclusion. Have them reverse research the paper.
Here are additional, innovative ideas for using ChatGPT in the classroom presented by ASCD, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development in a blog entitled, Leveraging ChatGPT: Practical Ideas for Educators. Other creative ideas can be heard from Maricopa’s own, Dr. Steven Crawford in a webinar he did recently with PackBack called “ChatGPT and AI’s Effect on Community Colleges.”
We look forward to continued conversations, sharing innovative ideas and practices, and exploring this dynamic, changing landscape that is teaching in higher ed.