In this sixth post in our Digital Pedagogy Toolbox blog series, Gwen Nguyen discusses the potential benefits artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT can bring to the field of post-secondary education.
Post by Gwen Nguyen, advisor, Learning and Teaching, at BCcampus
In 2012, in one of my class assignments, I asked my Japanese college students to visualize a language classroom in the next 10 years. The following photos are what I received.
In all these pictures, I saw the emerging existence of a bot teacher — either as hologram, doraemon, or Mr. English. One of my students even said they imagined the bot would always be in the classroom with students, welcoming them at the beginning of the class, supporting them with homework or further explanations, and facilitating class debates or discussions. I was shocked, sad, and, of course, as any instructor would be, worried about how my professional career would be affected. In addition, these reflective photos started to shake all my assumptions about what makes good teaching and learning and what can be considered intrinsically human higher-order skills or capabilities — such as creativity and complex problem-solving (Iansiti & Lakhani, 2020).
In November 2022 ChatGPT, a popular artificial intelligence (AI) tool, was released. Although it isn’t the first AI technology available in higher education, it gained sudden fame, both radical and negative, among scholars, researchers, educators, and students after its release to the public. Within a couple of months, all my YouTube friends were talking about it. We discussed it at team meetings. Even at an informal catch-up café, my learning designer friends shared how they saw ChatGPT might change the way we go about our daily work. Levin (2023) noted ChatGPT might encourage students to violate academic integrity. BBC News reported Stanford University had taken the initiative of recruiting lawyers to study the ChatGPT phenomenon, seeking ways to address and deal with the academic integrity issues.
My first response to ChatGPT was, “So my former students’ imagination (and wish) has come to life.” At this point I doubt any of them remember that small activity in class, yet I think about them when I’m writing this. I’d like to share some thoughts on how we could navigate this seminal moment in human history.
1. Let’s meet our new friend, ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is an AI system equipped with various abilities. This sophisticated chat-bot can read, make summaries, solve math problems, produce a comprehensive piece of writing (e.g., an academic essay, proposal, course syllabi draft), or create a consulting report or art piece. ChatGPT can also tutor students by providing explanations of abstract concepts and theories. ChatGPT can engage in scholarly debates in various fields of study as it can access relevant literature within seconds.
With all these capabilities, many people are concerned about being replaced by AI technology (David, 2015). There is also concern about the need for increased surveillance and monitoring of students to address academic integrity, plagiarism, and the detection of original student work (Eaton et al., 2021). AI technologies like ChatGPT could affect ethical issues like publishing, republication, recruiting, and performance reviews in academia. Above all, many educators are uncertain about what ChatGPT is and how it may impact their daily teaching and learning (Zawacki-Rickter et al., 2019).
Nevertheless, let’s remember how the calculator came to math class in the nineteenth century or when the printing press was invented in the fifteen century. Could we ban or ignore those tools? Just as the printing press changed our relationship with information by making it available to a wider audience, a large-language model AI like ChatGPT might blur the lines between human and machine intelligence and change our relationship with information (Zawacki-Rickter et al., 2019).
Our new friend ChatGPT is friendly, talented, and useful. It came to life from all of us and our work after years of engineering and training. In the Post-Secondary Digital Literacy Framework (PDF), a competent educator is expected to approach new technologies with confidence and curiosity. I suggest meeting ChatGPT with a beginner’s mind, as only with this openness can you think and move forward together with the future generation of students and AI.
2. Let’s talk!
At the beginning of 2023, the news raised public attention and sparked controversy among education communities about how ChatGPT brought issues and challenges that many educational institutions needed to address (BBC News, 2023). But before addressing those challenges or issues, it is worthwhile to revisit the purpose of higher education to understand how ChatGPT can affect us and our work as educators. In the article “Is AI the New Homework Machine? Understanding AI and Its Impact on Higher Education,” we are advised to reflect and reimagine the relationship between information, knowledge, and wisdom in the process of teaching and learning. Do we teach and learn as a way to obtain knowledge? Is knowledge something we can obtain? Can knowing be something concrete and separate from being?
If teaching and learning is merely presenting and collecting information, my work as an instructor at post-secondary institutions would have been replaced long ago considering my limited capabilities compared with other technological tools. In other words, I would like to believe the learning process is an active, fluid, improvisational way of being in which we can “shake off” instead of “apply” any set of values or preconceptions of the world. I would like to reimagine we learn and teach to “convert every certainty into a question, whose answer is to be found by attending to what lies before us, in the world, not by looking it up at the back of the book” (Ingold, 2013, p. 2).
3. Let’s be friends. Let’s be happy!
I like you, I do (I do)
I wanna be your friend, go shopping in a Benz
I like you, I do (I do)
I just got a feeling that we might be friends for a long, long time
You don’t mind and you know I like you for that
— Post Malone featuring Doja Cat, “I Like You”
With a positive spirit after this reflective discussion about what AI means to higher education, I’m starting with some happy lyrics from “A Happier Song” by Post Malone and Doja Cat. Let’s be friends with ChatGPT! Why not?
An AI system like ChatGPT can benefit many academic levels: it can support educators by making learning experiences personalized to meet students’ needs and capabilities (Baker, 2021). Within minutes it can collect and analyze data from students, such as their performance and engagement, and offer quick suggestions for teaching and learning improvement (Dhawan & Batra, 2021). Apart from its efficiency and productivity in addressing questions regarding a presentation, business proposal, or research abstract, ChatGPT also can make corrections on its own mistakes and provide elaboration (Azaria, 2022).
So, “I like you, I do (I do).” Not because you’re the best, but because it’s you! I’d like to step further into suggesting how we can partner up ChatGPT.
- Promoting new academic integrity
One of the most controversial concerns about ChatGPT in higher education is related to academic integrity. Let’s have an open conversation with students about academic integrity and ownership in learning in the age of AI. Carvalho et al. (2022) promoted the humanistic participatory co-design framework and activities with learners to address the dynamism and complexities of AI development. You can always communicate your expectations, information, and potential use of ChatGPT in a course syllabus to promote academic integrity among students
- Creating alternative assessment activities
If the purpose of teaching and learning is not merely collecting or obtaining knowledge, you can revisit the learning outcomes you want learners to achieve and provide students with meaningful experiences they truly value. That is, instead of having learners stressed about a single exam or essay, perhaps you can design assessments that offer learners opportunities to work together or demonstrate how they came to know and what steps they take toward the application of what they know. You can encourage learners in group- or community-based projects, starting with in-class discussion, and help them access resources with ChatGPT and their groups. If it has to be a writing assignment, you can rely on multi-draft writing, which shows how you consider learning as a process.
- Teaching students how to be friends with ChatGPT
When we first meet ChatGPT, our friend is so transparent and honest in showing its capabilities as well as its limitations. It’s evident that sometimes it can provide unreliable information on topics with few citations. It can also produce inaccurate and false factual references. It is limited in the ability to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of sources, and ethical considerations are absent in some responses. Thus, in this digital transformative era, you’ll want to instruct your learners on how they can leverage ChatGPT to understand the world around them — in other words, ChatGPT literacy. It’s important to teach learners to be mindful and critical of the information they receive from ChatGPT. Perhaps you can take some of the limitations addressed above as prompts for discussion or identify issues in the generated responses of ChatGPT.
You can also incorporate active learning activities such as Think-Pair-Share, in which you request learners to brainstorm and create a draft with ChatGPT. When they come to class, they can evaluate those drafts with each other. According to research from Illinois State University (n.d.), ChatGPT can perform at a grade level of grade C to B- in writing assignments. So in what way can students further develop drafts to meet expectations of a grade-A piece?
To conclude I’d like to share a screenshot of a short conversation with ChatGPT about its role in post-secondary education settings.
Just as you might have a conversation with a friend who doesn’t work in your field, you might agree or disagree with ChatGPT’s answers. But it doesn’t matter whether you like ChatGPT’s answers or its existence. It’s more important to be proactive and forward-thinking about how to learn about and learn with AI tools. It’s time to go big in designing and teaching with these questions:
- How can you incorporate ChatGPT or other AI tools in your courses to achieve your intended outcomes differently and even better?
- How can ChatGPT help with promoting equity and access in teaching?
- Is it possible for ChatGPT to support learning processes in ways that do not continuously replicate colonialist ways of thinking? (Williansom & Eynon, 2020)
- In what way can you offer learners more interactive, authentic, and meaningful opportunities with ChatGPT they haven’t experienced before?
I see myriad possibilities for ChatGPT to be part of innovative and transformative teaching and learning experiences instead of perceiving it as a challenge or crisis (as I did 10 years ago). I suggest meeting, talking with, and being friends (perhaps for a long time) with ChatGPT.
The Digital Pedagogy Toolbox blog series is a monthly blog post series that features highlights of interactive technologies and pedagogies in learning and teaching design. This series is an extended version of the BCcampus FLO Tech Tool Tip blog series. In these blogs, you may find an activity that supports innovative and effective teaching practice in technology-infused learning environments, a short recipe for digital teaching and learning, or some tips on the pedagogical uses of a tool for instruction.
- Digital Pedagogy Toolbox: Ethics as Design
- Digital Pedagogy Toolbox: Designing for Care with Personas
- Digital Pedagogy Toolbox: Creating Engaging, Interactive Learning Resources
- Digital Pedagogy Toolbox: Early Considerations for ePortfolios in WordPress
- Digital Pedagogy Toolbox: Use Games, But Use the Fun Parts!
Azaria, A. (2022). ChatGPT usage and limitations. ResearchGate. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.26616.11526
BBC News. (2023, January 15). What is ChatGPT, the AI software taking the internet by storm? [Video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWCCPy7Rg-s
Carvalho, L., Martinez-Maldonado, R., Tsai, Y. S., Markauskaite, L., & De Laat, M. (2022). How can we design for learning in an AI world? Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 3, Article 100053, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.caeai.2022.100053
David, H. J. (2015). Why are there still so many jobs? The history and future of workplace automation. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(3), 3–30.
Eaton, A. E., Mindzak, M., & Morrison, R. (2021, June). The impact of text-generating technologies on academic integrity: AI & AI. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353169564_The_impact_of_text_generating_technologies_on_academic_integrity_AI_AI
Iansiti, M., & Lakhani, K. R. (2020). Competing in the age of AI: Strategy and leadership when algorithms and networks run the world. Harvard Business Press.
Illinois State University. (n.d.). AI-generated content in the classroom: Considerations for course design. https://prodev.illinoisstate.edu/pedagogy/ai/
Ingold, T. (2013) Making: Anthropology, archeology, art and architecture. London: Routledge.
Levin, J. (2023). Student caught cheating using AI on final; Academic integrity policy updated. The Commentator. https://yucommentator.org/2023/01/students-caught-cheating-using-ai-on-final-academic-integrity-policy-updated
Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills (June, 2022) Digital Learning Strategy (Consultation Draft), pp. 20-31
Williamson, B., & Eynon, R. (2020). Historical threads, missing links, and future directions in AI in education. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(3), 223–235.
Zawacki-Richter, O., Marin, V.I., Bond, M., & Gouverneur, F. (2019). Systematic review of research on artificial intelligence applications in higher education – where are the educators. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16(39), 1-37, https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0171-0
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Question: In what ways that ChatGPT can help teaching and learning in higher education setting?
Answer: ChatGPT is a variant of the GPT (Generative Pre-Training Transformer) language model developed by OpenAI. It is designed to generate human-like text based on a given prompt, and it can be used in a variety of ways to facilitate teaching and learning in a higher education setting. Here are a few potential uses:
- Generating sample answers or responses to prompts: ChatGPT could be used to generate sample answers or responses to prompts given in coursework, providing students with additional examples and ideas to help them complete assignments or prepare for exams.
- Providing feedback on written assignments; ChatGPT could be used to provide feedback on written assignments, such as highlighting areas that need improvement or suggesting alternative ways to phrase certain ideas.
- Facilitating discussion and debate: ChatGPT could be used to facilitate discussion and debate in online forums or chat rooms, by generating ideas and prompts for students to consider and respond to.
- Creating personalized study materials: ChatGPT could be used to create personalized study materials for students, such as flashcards or practice quizzes, based on their specific areas of need or interest.
Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to enhance teaching and learning in higher education by providing additional resources and support for students, and by facilitating interactive and engaging learning experiences.
The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Alex Knight