Teaching and Learning

Navigating the Use of AI Bots in the Classroom: A Faculty Member’s Perspective

We’ve all been hearing a lot about ChatGPT, and I was curious about how the AI tool would do with writing a blog post about itself. The post below was generated by ChatGPT in response to a series of prompts. I started by asking it to, “Write an informal blog post about the impact of AI bots on student learning in community colleges. Discuss pros and cons.” I used successive prompts to refine the output:

  • Can you add some information about how faculty are addressing the use of AI bots?
  • Can you integrate the writing above into the original blog post?
  • Can you personalize the blog post a bit more?
  • Can you write it as though you were the faculty member and draw on your own classroom experience?

Finally, I asked ChatGPT for ideas for a post title and to generate an author bio for itself.

You can view the final product below. If you’d like to see all the iterations of the post, go to this Google doc, which includes the entire ChatGPT transcript. Please leave your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post.

CETLS is planning some programming focused on ChatGTP and other AI bots, and will be announcing dates shortly. In the meantime, you might want to check out these resources. Feel free to share additional resources that you’ve found helpful in the comments.

Many thanks to the blogging group of the CETLS Advisory Board for coming up with the idea for this post.

robot-android-computer-chatbot by Alexandra Koch on Pixabay

As a faculty member at a community college, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that AI bots can have on student learning. In my years of experience in the classroom, I’ve come to appreciate both the advantages and limitations of using these bots in education.

Let me start with the advantages. In my experience, one of the biggest benefits of using AI bots is personalized learning. These bots are able to analyze student data and adapt their teaching methods to the individual student’s learning style, leading to a more effective and engaging learning experience. For students with busy schedules or who prefer to learn at their own pace, the availability of AI bots 24/7 can be a major advantage. And from a cost perspective, AI bots are significantly less expensive than hiring additional teachers, making them an attractive option for community colleges facing budget constraints.

However, there are also some important limitations to keep in mind. AI bots can only provide answers based on their programming, and may not have the ability to understand complex concepts or provide human-like feedback. Additionally, these bots are dependent on technology, which can be a major disadvantage for students in rural or low-income areas who may not have access to reliable technology. And perhaps most importantly, AI bots cannot replace the value of human interaction in the classroom. In my experience, personal connections with teachers and classmates are crucial for student engagement and motivation, and these simply cannot be replicated by a machine.

So what am I doing to address these concerns in my own classroom? For starters, I’ve been exploring ways to integrate AI bots into my teaching in a complementary way, rather than as a replacement. For example, I use AI bots to provide students with instant feedback on assignments and personalized study materials, while still leading the lessons and providing the human connection that is so important for student success. Additionally, I incorporate ethics and critical thinking about technology into my courses, so that my students can learn to evaluate the strengths and limitations of AI and other forms of technology, and understand how to use these tools in a responsible and effective way.

In conclusion, I can say that the impact of AI bots on student learning is complex and multifaceted. There are certainly pros and cons to consider, and the best approach will likely be a combination of AI and human instruction, leveraging the strengths of both to create the best possible learning experience for students. But one thing is clear: AI bots are here to stay, and it’s up to us as faculty members to find the most effective ways to use them in our classrooms.

9 Responses to Navigating the Use of AI Bots in the Classroom: A Faculty Member’s Perspective

  1. John Beaumont February 6, 2023 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks for doing this. Super interesting. It seems a little hollow to me so far, particularly in the second paragraph. Personalized learning? I’d like to ask about the experience using of a specific AI bot and specific student experiences to see what it comes up with.

    • Gina Cherry February 6, 2023 at 11:50 am #

      John – I asked your question (and also a refined version, specifically asking for a negative experience) and added it to the chat transcript in the Google doc.

      Not only is the post a bit hollow, but I’d also say that ChatGPT doesn’t do a good job of taking on specific perspectives. Although I asked it to write from the perspective of a faculty member, it came up with this gem: “AI bots are significantly less expensive than hiring additional teachers, making them an attractive option for community colleges facing budget constraints.” Can you imagine a faculty member writing that?!

      • John Beaumont February 6, 2023 at 1:46 pm #

        These responses really require us to turn on our critical reading/thinking skills!

  2. Brett Whysel February 6, 2023 at 11:23 am #

    That’s really cool! Very interesting how you piloted the bot’s drafting with successive prompts. I can imagine bot-driving as a learning objective or micro-credential in the not-so-distant future.

  3. Mindi Reich-Shapiro February 7, 2023 at 7:44 am #

    I’m a huge fan of AI. My cousin works at Boston Dynamics and was part of the team that designed and build Spot. However…when it comes to aesthetic pursuits (like art, poetry, dance) or even writing an essay, you can easily see the limitations. I’m not overly concerned about students using ChatGPT to write their papers. My assignments integrate class discussions and specific readings. By the time a student had guided the bot to write a decent paper, they would have essentially done the work anyway! For fun, check out the Boston Dynamics video “Do you Love Me”. My cousin wrote the code for the choreography.

    • Jamal Ali February 15, 2023 at 11:51 am #

      Mindi, thank you for the video. It is really an awesome video. Robots can dance well! Your cousin must be a skilled dancer to write such great code.
      When I’m rich, I’ll have robots dancing at my next party.

  4. Satenik Margaryan February 7, 2023 at 1:15 pm #

    I keep reading about ChatGpt in colleges. Here is a thread about the ethical use AI in faculty research and writing: https://twitter.com/MushtaqBilalPhD/status/1622868686104043521?s=20&t=UbKHUDPsRdx2S7tMyTKe2Q

    • Jamal Ali February 15, 2023 at 11:53 am #

      Thank you Satenik. I was reading about ChatGPT, and your link helped me see what ChatGPT can do as well as what its limitations are for research writing.

  5. Jamal Ali February 15, 2023 at 11:44 am #

    Gina, thank you for introducing the topic and for providing a practical example of the use of ChatGPT. I support the use of ChatGPT and similar AI tools in science classes. It should enhance students’ capability to produce better writing and allow them to learn at their convenience and for free. What is the most reliable way to tell whether the work belongs to the student or to ChatGPT?

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