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Educators and Universities Plan Summer AI Upskilling

Educators and Universities Plan Summer AI Upskilling


Some faculty members recharge their energy during the summer. As they exhale, they tweak next year’s challenges and course policies. Other teachers face challenges unique to the summer, struggling to find childcare while teaching multiple courses, possibly on multiple campuses, to students in need of remedial classes during accelerated semesters. maybe.

However, Microsoft and Google are working to integrate artificial intelligence text generation into the writing environment of modern humans. As the pace of advancement in AI writing tools accelerates, educators face a common challenge during the summer vacation. How can we improve our AI skills to teach and learn faster?

Some colleges and institutions offer workshops for AI faculty, providing, in the words of Anna Mills, an English lecturer at the University of Marin, a safe space where the momentum of a fire hose won’t overwhelm them. [AI] Informational or hot topic.

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At these summer AI workshops for teachers, some plan to take the tentative first step of redesigning challenges to recognize the context in which AI has been introduced. Others are looking to advance their ongoing AI-powered teaching practices. Some universities have full-time staff to conduct workshops or pay participants for professional development time. However, some programs are grassroots initiatives delivered by faculty volunteers, and participants can participate at their own time. Still, many fear the effort won’t meet demand.

We need to get to a point where we feel some agency again, Mills said of teachers’ perceptions of AI in teaching and learning. Teachers need to be clear about what we as teachers want to argue, where we weren’t intimidated and where we get it. [AI] Language models will continue to change, but there are some basic concepts about language models that we can grasp and that will at least not change for the foreseeable future.

some people are angry

During the spring semester, many university librarians actively worked to help faculty navigate the disruption caused by tools like ChatGPT. For example, Melissa Adams, a librarian at her college in Tacoma Community, and her colleagues launched a resource page for faculty that provides an overview of generative AI. We also provided her two professional development workshops on AI in teaching and learning, monthly pedagogical discussions, and her cloud-based SharePoint files where faculty can ask questions and post ideas. The institution also plans a funded community of practice for faculty to share ideas on using AI for critical thinking.

But Adams says those efforts are not enough. Most faculty continue to project discomfort, confusion, or fear about what AI means for their disciplines and student learning.

Adams said we were a little behind the times.Some people try to pick up the slack and center it [upskilling in AI] More for faculty and students. However, I am a little frustrated with the lack of sufficient support.

Many of Tacoma’s faculty are teaching part-time or full-time during the summer, so they may continue to wrestle with and work with disruptive technologies as they did in the spring semester, Adams said. Stated.

Some people are angry, Adams said. Some see this as a loss of ability to write or think. We need broader conversations and broader support across campus.

The Salt Lake Community College Library has also created a Community Resources page to provide a starting point for faculty, staff, and students to learn how to use generative AI responsibly. This week, the institution’s librarian and director of writing across the curriculum kicks off his first of three virtual synchronous summer AI workshops for faculty. In the workshop, each of her 30 enrolled individuals adapts at least one of her assignments or teaching strategies to employ AI. The team believes enrollment numbers are solid for a summer teacher workshop. But that number is only a fraction of the roughly 800 instructors the school employs, according to Salt Lake instruction and liaison librarian Amy Schierke.

Schierke and colleagues are concerned about the future of digital fairness, even as faculty redesign assignments to accommodate the presence of generative AI tools. Many of Salt Lake’s students come from low-income backgrounds or struggle to connect to the internet, but now he’s using ChatGPT and Bard as a preview of his independent research.

But what happens when free study previews are gone, or when ChatGPT’s proprietary version is significantly better than the free version? Schierke asked. If instructors do not take this into account when readjusting assignments to include some of these tools, it could be negative for students in the long run if they suddenly have to use these tools. It may affect you, but currently it’s a paid version only.

Salt Lake officials contacted ChatGPT developer OpenAI two months ago, Scherke said, asking for a quote to provide access to the library. But OpenAI has not responded.

Are these companies willing to work with academic libraries when purchasing subscriptions, or are we too small-minded? Schierke asked. How do we provide fair access without asking students to buy something else?

At other institutions, instructors who have mastered the tools during the spring semester often use their time to offer summer workshops to their colleagues.

“There are still faculty members who don’t know much about AI,” said Laura Domin, an English professor and director of the Technical Writing Program at the University of Central Oklahoma.

In the spring semester, Douming incorporated AI literacy into her classes to increase students’ knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of generative AI writing tools. She also gave students the opportunity to experiment, write feedback, and discuss proper use of the tool. Thanks to these efforts, Ms. Douming believes she was able to avoid misconduct concerns faced by some of her colleagues. Now she will lead her AI workshops over the summer and mentor other faculty members in redesigning one of her assignments to incorporate AI. She limited the number of participants in the workshop to her 20 to facilitate discussion.

If I had the time and paid for it, the situation might have been different, Douming said, adding that he wanted to help the visiting teachers.but [summer] It’s time off to do my job.

Dumin also hopes that more institutional funding will be devoted to training.

Rather than running away from it or assuming that teachers will find their way out on their own, institutions should ensure that teachers are in a way that makes them feel comfortable and helps them make sense of this new situation. Douming said they need to put in some money to make sure they are trained. A spokeswoman for Central Oklahoma University said the university is developing a workshop this summer to run in the fall.

Mark Watkins, Lecturer in Composition and Rhetoric. Stephen Monroe, Professor and Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric. Rory Nichols, a data scientist at the University of Mississippi, has secured funding for participants in his AI Summer Institute for Writing Teachers.

More than half of the participants enrolled in the pilot are non-tenure-track writing teachers, Watkins said. Still, the team had twice as many applicants as he could accommodate. To meet further demand, we plan to develop a version of the training as a standalone online course. We are also developing a version of the training for K-12 teachers and administrators.

When it comes to dealing with ChatGPT and other generative AIs, Spring has been overwhelming for everyone, Watkins said, speaking with nearly 20 faculty about suspected cases of academic misconduct using generative text. He added that he did. Watkins said most of the affected faculty didn’t penalize the students, but the effort it took to change the case to the moment it was taught was significant.

We must treat teachers with courtesy

Advances in AI are advancing rapidly, and some academics fear that opting out means giving up an opportunity to influence AI’s advanced trajectory. But the flip side of this argument is that early involvement can help dictate its appropriate use in future teaching and learning.

Now, I no longer have that initial fear that I will never be able to write again. [we can] Asim Ali, executive director of Auburn University’s Vizio Center for Empowering Education and Learning, said he wants us to think constructively about the potential of AI in terms of increasing its potential. It’s a really charming and exciting place.

In April, following the release of ChatGPT, Auburn launched a voluntary, fully online course to help teachers upskill. About 120 students took the course in the spring semester. Now that summer has arrived, that number has more than doubled to 300, or about 15 percent of the faculty, Ali said. Ali expects about 500 faculty members at the school to take the course by the end of the summer.

Ali credits the online approach with increasing the reach of the program, allowing faculty to develop their skills at a time, pace and level that suits them. Other agencies seem to agree. Vanderbilt University, Stanford University, and others will offer virtual AI workshops this summer.

We need to be polite to people and meet them where they are, Ali said. That means some people are ready to take on transformative work, others are ready to learn, but they need to be a little more selective. We need to be ready for all different levels and types of engagement.

Marc Ebenfeld, director of the University of New England’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, is also helping plan summer AI workshops for faculty at the university’s Portland and Bideford, Maine campuses. Participating faculty members are awarded very modest scholarships and lunches. (Mr. Ebenfeld declined to disclose the amount.) The workshop will be taught by a faculty member who has experience teaching AI in sociology, ethics, art, mathematics and computer coding courses in the spring semester. I will help you.

Ebenfeld said the New England team used AI to ease the burden of repetitive tasks in academia, such as writing reports, letters to colleagues who served on committees, and letters of recommendation to students. He plans to emphasize how to use

Ebenfeld said it does a reliable job for tasks like this. I obviously want to touch up. But when used in creative mode (GPT-4) with lots of purple adjectives, it’s pretty good. Ebenfeld said the team could also highlight how AI tools can create glossaries, lesson plans and quizzes from articles and videos.

But chances can quickly turn into risks.

When teachers use language models to generate tuition and students use language models to answer them, it’s all just connected to the system. [learning management system], and we’re all off, said Ebenfeld.While that could potentially be a downside, it also has immeasurable upsides AI actually forces it into our hands [critical thinking] I would say that is our focus.




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