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Innovative Teaching: AI in the Classroom

2023 has been a notable year for Artificial Intelligence (AI). From self-driving cars to even ChatGPT being used to help study for homework, AI is getting bigger.

Colleges are using AI to help make teachers’ tasks more automated and easier to do, like grading or even teaching lectures when the teachers can’t be in class. 

But, does MSSU use AI in its courses?

Dr. Sarah Holtzen, an Assistant Professor of Management here on campus, says AI is a requirement in the business classes.

The students use AI programs like ChatGPT in their work to see the advantages and disadvantages of using them. Her class tested ChatGPT for an assignment about job profiling. They found that it wasn’t exactly what they were expecting and discovered that AI’s usefulness can depend on the human user.

“They all kept saying that there are a lot of issues with the output…I want students to come up with their own opinions about the tool, but I do want them to understand that it’s a tool that depends on the human user, the extent to which that tool is beneficial or not,” said Dr. Holtzen.

Though ChatGPT may not do well in creating job profiles, Dr. Holtzen says, like any tool, it can be helpful for one’s journey through college.

“AI is just like any other piece of technology. It’s a tool. It doesn’t replace learning. It can be a supplement to learning, but at the end of the day, you have to understand what you’re doing to get a benefit from it,” Dr. Holzen said.

Dr. Zack Watson, a Professor of English at MSSU and the Chair of the Language Department, has also had his class use AI, including programs like Ellicit, Research Rabbit, and ChatGPT; however, he says it isn’t always helpful, because it isn’t always accurate. 

“I was demonstrating that to my students the other day about how we’re reading this novel, Brooklyn– it’s the book for the Irish semester,” Dr. Watson said. “ChatGPT will talk to you about things happening in the book that didn’t happen.”

Dr. Watson emphasizes that AI should not serve as a means to swerve around the learning process but, it should be used to enhance learning and assist in articulating ideas effectively within the scope of a typical classroom.

“That’s the big thing, I think, is that all this gives us the opportunity to distinguish between being able to do stuff and the value you get from learning it…I think there’s a way of thinking that you get from a math class that if you only ever use a calculator, you won’t get in the same way with writing,” Dr. Watson said. “There are things you learn by writing, but you aren’t going to get it if ChatGPT does your writing for you.” 

As the world moves on and AI and technology evolve around us, we should keep in mind that as we use them, we shouldn’t rely on them as they make mistakes, just like us.

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