Unpacking the Use of AI

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ChatGPT took the world by storm last December when OpenAI, an Artificial intelligence (AI) company, opened its research preview ‘beta’ version to the public to test and use for free. 
This prompted mixed reactions from academics around the world to the emergence of AI chatbots, ranging from those who fully embrace it to those who reject it on the basis that it challenges academic integrity. 
The market has already been saturated with other all-purpose generative AI tools even before the rise of ChatGPT.
Among them are YouChat and Jasper Chat, which allow users to stay connected, Chatsonic, which provides idea generation and optimises SEO, and Adaptive Learning Experience (aleX) is for the higher education experience.
Noodle Factory automates AI tutoring, marking, and exam preparation, ProfessorBob.ai assists in teaching, asking, and answering questions.
Gradescope helps users seamlessly administer and grade assessments, whether online or in-class, and GET MARKED automates the creation of online e-assignments by converting a Word document or PDF into quiz format in the Learning Management System.
Subscribing to an AI tool is easy enough, but when using them, educators will need to reconsider and redesign their pedagogies for effective student learning. 
Here are five ways to reconceptualise teaching and learning with AI

Adopt an AI policy into the curriculum, encouraging AI as an “emerging skill”  

Lecturers and students need to accept that AI tools are going to be prominent instruments in the education sphere in terms of accessing knowledge now and in the future.
Instead of resisting, it is better to adopt them early as a support tool for self-directed learning.
Educators can do this in stages to help students use them for self-study and assignments. 

AI bots as virtual teaching assistants

Lecturers are to determine what needs to be learned and guide their students to utilise AI tools as their ‘support teachers’.
Students can be guided on how to prompt the bot using smaller sub-questions to derive answers, allowing them to understand a complex topic.
This way, they are taught to engage critically with AI rather than using it simply to generate answers for the sole purpose of submitting assignments.

AI tools to generate customised lesson plans and assignments tailored to each student’s needs and abilities

For a long-time, lecturers have struggled to design separate learning objectives for students of different aptitudes within a class, especially if a lesson is targeted to a larger cohort.
AI bots can be instructed to generate customised lesson plans that will help lecturers save time in planning and deploying their lessons to students who learn differently from others. 

Personalised feedback to students using AI tools

Traditionally, lecturers have spent hours grading student work, while with the use of AI tools today, automated but custom feedback on student work can be generated.
This cuts down marking time significantly by identifying assignments that have fixed answers such as mathematical problems and text-based assignments such as essays. 
When grading, such AI tools are smart enough to provide non-generic feedback tailored to each unique submission.
If the lecturer is unsatisfied with the generated feedback, the bot can always be prompted with the lecturer’s comments to regenerate another round of feedback.

Raise awareness on the effects of indiscriminate use of AI-powered tools on education and its qualification 

Being such a powerful platform, students must learn not to see AI tools as the one-stop solution to all learning problems.
They must be made aware that future jobs require finely honed skills and human-only competencies that may not be obtained by simply instructing AI bots to solve. 
Some job interviews have hurdles such as skill tests to demonstrate competence.
Those will prove to be the ultimate tests on whether a graduate should be employed rather than through education certificates alone. 
Although the arrival of AI signals the need for urgent and innovative change in the education industry, educators and students should view AI as an ally rather than an enemy.
There is no better time than now for educators to shift from being the sage-on-the-stage to the guide-by-the-side.
Students will soon be exposed to more influential AI tools that can generate immense knowledge and content output than educators can using textbooks and traditional search engines.

About the author: Associate Professor Dr Lim Chee Leong is the Director of Learning Innovation and Development (LID) at the Centre for Future Learning, Taylor’s University. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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