AI in the classroom event educates community on uses of ChatGPT

Media Credit: Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor

Katrin Schultheiss, an associate professor of history, said while future iterations of AI technology may be able to produce more credible writing, that faculty should continue to face AI-related issues head-on.

Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 4:34 p.m.

Faculty informed community members on the potential impact of AI, like ChatGPT on higher education, teaching them how the technology can be applied inside the classroom at an event Wednesday.

The meeting is the first in an ongoing series at GW exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with new AI technologies like ChatGPT that faculty are planning to incorporate into future curricula, as officials prepare a disciplinary response for students who use AI writing as a substitute for their assignments. Professors Lorena Barba, Alexa Alice Joubin, Ryan Watkins and Associate Professor Katrin Schultheiss spoke at the meeting in the National Churchill Leadership Center in Gelman Library, where 180 attendees joined the hybrid event.

Schultheiss, an associate professor of history, said while future iterations of AI technology may be able to produce more credible writing, that faculty should continue to face AI-related issues head-on.

“That’s reality, and it’s going to take us a while to adjust to it, and we have to acknowledge the fact that this is going to be wrenching for many of us because there are no easy solutions,” she said. “That’s why we’re here. We need to think collectively about how we can address these issues.”

Watkins, a professor of education at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, said he plans to have his students use ChatGPT to write outlines for class presentations.

“I might have my students use it as a starting place, and then they can add their content in and make comments about how useful or not useful it was,” he said.

Watkins said faculty across the University should update their course syllabi to include ChatGPT in a December blog post that yielded “positive feedback” from those who plan to use Large Language Models like ChatGPT in their courses.

“There are going to be lots of ways this integrates into different disciplines in different fields,” he said. “And I think it’s going to be both exciting and it’s gonna be scary at times.”

Barba, a professor of engineering, said the University should begin an initiative to increase “AI literacy” in the community so faculty can adequately incorporate AI technology into their classrooms for students to experience its many benefits, like writing feedback.

Barba said that while there are some “limitations” with ChatGPT, including its lack of human virtues like creativity and common sense, it can independently provide student feedback on grammar and style through a personal conversational agent.

Faculty will host a day-long symposium on April 14 called “I Am Not a Robot, the Entangled Futures of AI and Humanities,” which will discuss the philosophical and ethical issues associated with the use of AI in the modern world.

This post was updated to clarify the following: 

The Hatchet updated this story to include the names of the four faculty speakers at the event.

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