With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs like ChatGPT, educational institutions are looking at how to best use the technology.
Instead of banning the technology to avoid issues like cheating, Saskatchewan Polytechnic has decided to find ways to embrace technology.
The post-secondary institute is viewing AI as an opportunity to have conversations and understand how this technology can be used responsibly.
“I know there’s been lots of conversations, not just in our sector. Should you ban it? Should you do this? Should you do that? Whereas I think we’re viewing it as an opportunity to have some conversations and help people better understand how they can use it in a responsible way,” said Associate Vice-President of Learning and Teaching Mike Gillespie.
Gillespie added that AI technology isn’t new, but it’s also not going away. It is going to evolve and become more refined.
As for students using technology, Gillespie said the school has an academic code of conduct for students that deals with plagiarism and cheating. Students at Sask Polytech are expected to function within that policy.
“Whether it’s AI or other technologies, we feel at this point this is covered by those and the conversation becomes thinking about working with students on how they can use the technology in appropriate ways, thinking about the impact on our assessment strategy and those types of things,” Gillespie said.
He added that the code of conduct will likely need to be reviewed to keep the policies up to date with evolving technology and how students can use the technology appropriately.
For example, in a program like ChatGPT, a student can have the program type out an essay on almost any topic in a matter of seconds. Gillespie feels there are way instructors and turn something like that into a learning opportunity.
“An example of a good way to flip that around on an assignment would be for an instructor to work with students and say ‘This was an essay topic I was going to give you. Here’s the response ChatGPT provided. Let’s sit down and critique and critically analyze the response to try and identify the pros and cons and the strengths and weaknesses of that relative example’,” he said.
As a post-secondary school, AI has also been forced places like Sask Polytech to also look at their curriculum as industries begin to rely more and more on artificial intelligence.
“Our learners are going into a world where technologies like AI are going to be part of the work environment, and so I think for us we need to consider more broadly how we’re developing digital literacy, critical thinking skills for our students to enter into that world and make sure that we’re preparing them in alignment with their respective industries,” Gillespie said.
Sask Polytech is continuing to work with its faculty to navigate AI technology. The school has launched an AI resource hub to provide faculty members with information about what AI is, examples and guidelines on how it can be used in a teaching environment.