Curated by: Maha Bali and Hoda Mostafa
Educators all over the globe are in the process of exploring the potential impact of the recent advances in ChatGPT and text-generating Artificial Intelligence on education. As soon as the Spring 2023 semester started, CLT began offering community circle conversations and workshops with AUC faculty around the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the teaching and learning landscape. We’ve also been having conversations with faculty across the disciplines to see how they have decided to address it in their courses. This newsletter is a curation of what some faculty have shared with us in the first two weeks of February. If you’ve been doing other interesting things in your classes, please share them in the comments!
Jump to the title that interests you!
Conversations with Students About AI
Learn from Students: Involve the Students in Unpacking the Impact of AI by Mervat Abou Oaf (JRMC)
I introduced it to students, and will explain further using visuals and videos sharing a variety of perceptions and approaches towards OpenAI generally and ChatGPT specifically. I briefly discussed its impact on education, and the learning process and acquiring knowledge.
I am intending to learn from students. To them, technology is much more innate, so I asked them to put themselves in my shoes, and share with me ideas about how they’d secure a safe environment and usage of AI,
- What ethical and academic integrity measures should be considered if they were responsible for the learning process of students.
- What are creative yet realistic means of integrating AI into their courses if they were professors?
- What are methods of promoting using AI into the courses content, while not inviting cheating and/or plagiarism. What other challenges are to be regarded.
I will assign a project in a group of three as an assignment to my Media Literacy and Awareness course (focus on AI generally) and my Media Law course (focusing on legislative and ethical impact of AI). Each group will present their project to the class, and classmates will select the best creative and inclusive plan. The winning group will be given a bonus. If they produce well-rounded realistic plan/s I’d share with all! 😀
- Mervat Abou Oaf, Journalism and Mass Communication/Core curriculum
AI & Labor: A Bottom-Up Approach By Amal Mowafy (ECON)
Like all of us, we (the faculty and students) are learning while doing since this is not just a novel learning (or otherwise) tool but it is also still learning itself. Given that my class is on labor economics and we look on a monthly basis at contemporary news articles around the topic of the world of work, I used an article entitled Will ChatGPT take your job? New program shows AI could be ‘competing’ for work as a segue to our discussion on the use of AI in academic assignments.
On Thursday 9 February, I divided the students in both sections into groups of 5 to 7 to discuss and agree among themselves on the advantages and disadvantages of ChatGPT et al. A representative of each group presented the findings to the class and we uploaded all the points on a google document to reflect upon with a view to come up with a way forward. At this juncture, we agreed that this will be a living document that we will continue to review till the end of the semester. Also, I am planning to have oral defenses of selected submissions while gearing assessments towards content presented, discussed and read in class. In all cases, the following addendum to the integrity policy was added to the syllabus
AUC is aware of the wide abilities and uses of AI and chatbots such as chatGPT. Students are required to research, write and revise their own work. If a student claims AI material as their own, this is plagiarism and the student will face academic integrity sanctions. On occasion, a class or assignment may make use of AI software or ask students to use such computer programs to develop work, however in such instances the faculty member will alert the students to the purpose of the work and define the context in which AI will be used. In such instances citations and/or references must be credited, as they are in all instances.
I believe that it is important to engage the students in the process and to come to a consensus on the way forward. It cannot be a unilateral top down decision coming from the faculty. We need to apply the “nothing on us without us” principle to ensure that we have an engaged student body that owns the policy to be put in place. This deserves a campus conversation of its own right:).
Clarifying Our Stance to Students by Mustafa Toprak (EDUS)
I first gave the students some information about OpenAI and its possibilities in academia because some students were not fully informed about the concept and I wanted to develop a shared understanding. Then, I shared my stance on AI with them by:
- Explaining the benefits of producing their own work rather than relying on AI,
- Recommending that they do not use it for content creation but for developing outlines,
- Recommending that they inform me if they plan to use it for any assignment, explain the rationale for using it, and the level of use,
- Stating that any part of their assignments created through AI tools must be cited.
I also explained that I had revised the assignments so they require more reflection and the application of knowledge.
Finally, I have added the following explanation to all my syllabi based on CLT’s recommendations:
“AUC is aware of the wide abilities and uses of AI and chatbots such as chatGPT. Students are required to research, write and revise their own work. If a student claims AI material as their own, this is plagiarism, and the student will face academic integrity sanctions. On occasion, a class or assignment may make use of AI software or ask students to use such computer programs to develop work; however, in such instances, the faculty member will alert the students to the purpose of the work and define the context in which AI will be used. In such instances, citations and/or references must be credited, as they are in all instances. You must also confirm that the work you submit is your own by adding the following statements to the beginning of your assignments: “I certify that this assignment represents my own work. I have not used any unauthorized or unacknowledged assistance or sources in completing it including free or commercial systems or services offered on the internet”.
- Mustafa Toprak, Educational Sciences
In Rhetoric and Composition Classes
Tinker, Tailor, Writer, What? ChatGPT and Rhetoric by Yasmine Motawy (RHET)
[the text below is text Yasmine Motawy shared with her students early in the semester]
It is finally here, the first AI tool to give Google a run for its money! Tinkerers all over the world, including many educators, have been experimenting with ChatGPT and I want to bring you into the conversation.
First of all, let us take a step back from the unfounded hysteria that this tool will replace you and that you will never need to write yourself again, and let us think like rhetoricians. We want to understand:
- How can it serve us as we work to master the art of persuasion?
- What is the best time to use it? What part of the writing process?
- What tasks is it best suited for?
- What processes can it interfere with?
Rhetoric involves: Knowing exactly what your desired outcome from every rhetorical act is, knowing who you are as a rhetorician, what your personal ethos is in every given situation, who your audience is, how to best win them over, and what the context demands.
This means that while ChatGPT can produce text for you, it cannot tell you who you are or help you to read the room. So before you reach out for that search bar, make sure you have brainstormed and strategized first: it is really difficult to un-read the chewed and digested text that this tool has spit up once you have read it.
Second of all, it is important to remember that this is an aggregator that works by absorbing billions of textual messages and averaging them out. And. It. Shows. Do you want to be average? This is like letting autocomplete write your emails: it is only a good idea if you know where this is going. So make sure you know that first.
There are so many questions we could be asking and so many issues we could be critically probing into… so let us!
Here is a list of all the AI writing tools available at the start of 2023, I hope you have had time to play around with a few, take notes, and come to class ready to chime in critically on how we can use this tool and not be used by it (cough, hundreds of hours surrendered to TikTok…never again). Expect to co-author a class manifesto on AI writing tools for RHET 1010 Spring 2023 during next class.
- Yasmine Motawy, Rhetoric and Composition
Dive More Deeply: Learn from the Front of the Curve with Students by Matthew Hendershot (RHET)
AI assisted or AI directed writing is the future. While still in its early stages, I believe it will eventually be a game changer when it comes to writing… just like calculators were to mathematics, the internet was to research, the printing press was to book distribution and ownership, spreadsheets were to logistics and finance, email was to postal mail, the washing machine was to clothes washing, and more.
I am openly having these conversations with my students and plan on fully integrating AI writing into my course this semester. I anticipate that it is going to help my students really wrestle with what excellent writing should look like and the challenges and processes of achieving that whether using traditional methods or AI assisted methods. We will have to dive more deeply into good rhetoric, the consideration of the rhetorical context, authenticity, and voice.
Of course this is new territory for all of us, but this is the world we have to prepare our students for and I think it is best to lead and learn from the front of the curve. I look forward to the conversations, discoveries, and mistakes that my students and I will experience along the way.”
- Matthew Hendershot, Rhetoric and Composition
Benchmarking via Handwriting by Hanan Shahin (RHET)
In all classes, I began the semester with a “Diagnostic Essay”. To see the writing skills and levels of students, every student had to handwrite an essay. That would more or less act as a “benchmark” for the writing skills and level of every student – for me to be able to spot any AI generated essay. Of course, I will try to take into consideration that this may not be entirely accurate, as the writing skills of the student could have improved during the course of the semester.
- Hanan Shahin, Rhetoric and Composition
Compare Authentic and AI Text by Shirley Barber & Heba Fathelbab (RHET)
I am interested in an activity that would include 2 texts, one authentic/ one AI written. The students would have to guess which one is written by AI. The purpose is to equip the students with skills to identify AI written materials, and how they could use it successfully – without losing the important skills such as foundations of writing/ rhetoric.
- Shirley Barber, Rhetoric and Composition
I plan on having the discussion about AI with my students and how they feel about it. I also plan to include a couple of activities where I have the students write a persuasive message on their own using a specific prompt and then generate the same text using AI and the same prompt. I will then have them compare both messages and come up with the differences. After they have done that they can then create a list of advantages and disadvantages to using AI.
- Heba Fathelbab, Rhetoric and Composition
Reflective Practices and Citation by Amira Abdullah (RHET)
I explained to my students that we will explore and navigate the use of AI in our class. My plan is to have writing workshops where students are asked to use AI in completing some writing tasks. I plan to incorporate reflective practices where students discuss what they learnt through using AI, compare between the AI-generated writing and human-generated samples that I share with them, and suggest ways to enhance and refine AI-generated business correspondences and messages in my Business and Communication course.
I will encourage students to express their thoughts about how AI can help develop their writing and improve their business communication skills. While allowing the use of AI in class, I will ask students to cite AI and mention when, how, and why they use AI. It is a new approach where both the students and I will explore the possible ways AI can boost the learning process without depriving us from the important critical thinking, critical reading, and information literacy skills that we need to be informed and skilled learners.
Some of the websites I plan to use this semester are ChatGPT, You.com, Perplexity, Kickresume, phind.com, beautiful.ai and Ai-writer.com.
- Amira Abdullah, Rhetoric and Composition
Integrate AI into Teaching
Relax: ChatGPT Is Just a New Tool by Noah Farhadi (MGMT)
I am looking at AI as a novel approach to knowledge management. Students should be aware of the strengths, limitations, risks, and drawbacks of such tools.
Expert systems are nothing new. An expert system (XPS or ES) is a computer program that can help students solve complex problems like an expert by deriving recommended actions from a knowledge base.
Using so-called if-then relationships, human knowledge (relationships in the world) can be represented in a form that computers can understand (knowledge base). An expert system contains the functionality to create and improve the knowledge base (knowledge acquisition component), process it (problem solving component), and make it understandable to the user (explanation component). Expert systems are a subfield of artificial intelligence, examples are systems to support medical diagnoses or to analyze scientific data. The first work on corresponding software took place in the 1960s. Since the 1980s, expert systems have also been used commercially.
In addition, I would discuss “value pride” and focus on “organic growth.” I want to show that internal growth is mandatory for all of us. ChatGPT is just a tool. Used incorrectly, it can damage one’s reputation and credibility.
Besides, many students turn to their friends, parents and siblings to help them with essays and homework. ChatGPT is just a tool and, by the way, it is not a perfect one. It makes many mistakes. To be honest, I am feeling relaxed about AI-enabled tools.
- Noah Farhadi, Management
Model Interacting with ChatGPT for Students – Then Let Them Try It by Khaled Nassar (CENG)
I asked the students at the beginning of the class how many had ChatGPT accounts in a Numerical Methods course with 30 students and it turned out that 5 of them had accounts. Then, after deriving the solution of an ordinary differential equation of a falling object analytically, I asked ChatGPT, using my own account, to solve the equation leaving out the meanings of the variables and the initial conditions needed to solve the equation. ChatGPT first identified the equation as that of a falling object by itself and then proceeded by giving the correct answer after assuming some initial conditions to the amazement of the students and myself. However, when asked the question again with the actual initial conditions, ChatGPT was not able to find the correct solution. An assignment was given to the students to try to get ChatGPT to get the correct answer by conversing with it and actually telling it what it did wrong.
- Khaled Nassar, Construction Engineering
Promote AI Literacy by Meredith Saba (LLT)
I think it’s good to highlight both the benefits and the limitations of AI tools for students.
For example, having them compare and contrast an essay from a bot (like ChatGPT) vs. a higher quality human written essay, and then provide feedback on how the bot essay could be improved. ChatGPT responses can sometimes be very general (or provide answers that are fairly obvious to most people), so they aren’t necessarily as deeply thoughtful, reflective, creative, or critical about topics as a human mind has the capacity to be. The essays it tends to generate aren’t “A” grade work anyway. Sometimes not even “B”-level work. ChatGPT is also only capable of generating content until 2021 (it is unable to provide newer information after this year). Additionally, as they note on their homepage, there can be biased content in the bot’s responses, so having students examine and think about that too is helpful.
It could also be comparing and contrasting content on a specific topic using different AI programs (ChatGPT, You.com, Perplexity, Google Bard, etc.) and looking at all their advantages, disadvantages, and limitations together on the same issue. They will see things written from different perspectives, but maybe, collectively, they only present a few sides of an issue, not all. Have students think about which perspectives (or content) is clearly missing from all of them.
All of this also corresponds to the “Information Literacy skills” that we teach our students, which I have been doing at various institutions for 20 years now. In the LALT 1020 class at AUC, we teach students how to find or locate information on any topic for a class (on the web or in print), how to critically evaluate the information they found for quality (does it come from a credible source? How do you really know you can trust that data, statistic, graph, chart, news site, social media post, website, YouTube video, written argument, etc.?) and then finally, how to apply that information to an academic paper, project, a career task in a job someday, to solve a personal or professional problem… or just to make a major decision in their life (for themselves or others).
Someone at our campus conversation yesterday on AI also noted that employers may be looking for college graduates who have AI skills in the future, so this should be considered as well when we think about how we want to teach and how to approach it.”
- Meredith Saba, Libraries and Learning Technologies
Personalize AI’s Output by Kim Fox (JRMC)
I briefly mentioned ChatGPT in my class in the first week of classes. I was reviewing the syllabus and the topics of academic integrity and plagiarism. I briefly mentioned how ChatGPT could be used as a starting point for assignments with the key being that you edit what it gives you in order to personalize it and make it your own. I also mentioned how we already see AI in our writing of email using Gmail where it will try to fill in the remainder of your sentence and if that’s what you were going to write, you accept it, but if you wanted to express something else you continue to write using your own words.
There might be instances where we could use ChatGPT in some of my courses for writing scripts, but we often need attributions to source material, so we will have to make sure that’s included in the prompt to ChatGPT. I plan to explore that on my own as well as in class.
- Kim Fox, Journalism and Mass Communication
What About You?
As you read these, were you inspired to try something different in your class?
Have you been doing interesting things in your classes? How have students been responding to them?
Either way, tell us in the comments!