How do we use Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education for Good?
Posted on September 9, 2023
Wits workshop on Learning and Teaching debates responsibility, equity, and access of generative AI in Higher Education.
The Wits Centre for Learning, Teaching, and Development (CLTD) is tackling accelerated technological development head-on through critical multidisciplinary conversations around artificial intelligence technologies and its implications for learning and teaching.
This week it hosted a workshop focusing on Ensuring Responsibility, Equity, and Access: Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education. The topics proposed personal, professional, and scholarly perspectives on how AI tools could augment, shape, or impact future academic endeavours. It reflected on recent experiences of learning and teaching with these tools, describing the challenges and opportunities encountered, and how this is playing out in learning and teaching.
Can we use Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education for Good? This was the topic put forward by Professor Ruksana Osman, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, who opened the workshop. “I commend this very progressive workshop; I hope that we are not debating whether our students should or should not access large language platforms or the like. I would like to think that as a University with the edge, we are embracing artificial intelligence platforms and using them as tools to enhance teaching and learning for good, across all disciplines,” she said.
“The creation of AI models and platforms is the easy part,” she added. “It is a natural evolution of the Internet or Google or online encyclopaedias, just must faster and much more powerful. The difficult part comes in the intangible aspects, in regulating the use of these platforms for teaching and learning purposes, in deciding what is allowed and what is not, in ensuring that these tools are used responsibly to advance the public good, eliminating bias and prejudice, enhancing transparency and accountability, and abiding by the Protection to Access to Information Act and protecting data privacy, amongst other aspects,” she added.
Generative AI presents many challenges and opportunities for higher education. From literacy to ethics, responsibility to malpractice, AI is forcing higher education leaders to rethink and redesign teaching, learning and assessment. A talk on a hybrid (Human + AI) model as it relates to teaching and learning was presented, along with new design and delivery options to address this new educational reality. Mairead Pratschke, Professor and Chair in Digital Education at the University of Manchester, was one of the speakers and said: “It’s great that we have these AI tools to assist us with our tasks and to help us use the AI ecosystem of tools to rethink and redesign our activities intentionally and purposefully.’’
Some may view the AI chatbot era as a ‘Chatpocalypse Now’ event, with its phenomenal uptake in a short span of time assailing academic integrity, infringing on copyright in the creative industries, and raising concomitant concerns about data, privacy, and ethics for both individuals and society. Others see its promising applications across various disciplines, and, more importantly, in the higher education sector, as an opportunity to re-evaluate the purpose of higher education and to herald new ways of assessment, learning, and research.
Ms. Phaladi Sethusa, who lectures in the Wits Centre for Journalism presented on AI in journalism education on Misinformation or Automated Personal Assistant stated: “To paraphrase, albeit imperfectly colleagues at Wits University have adopted a more optimistic outlook, which can be summarised as: ‘If you can’t enforce it, endorse it.'”
The workshop sparked passionate debates and thoughtful discussions about the responsible integration of Artificial Intelligence in higher education. Academics and experts explored the potential benefits and ethical considerations surrounding AI in learning and teaching. Key topics included the transformative potential of Generative AI in reimagining student assessment, the importance of developing critical AI literacy, and the role of AI in promoting social justice through equitable assessment practices. The event emphasised the need for responsible and ethical AI implementation in higher education, acknowledging its potential to revolutionise learning while emphasising the importance of informed decision-making and inclusive practices in the AI age.
Prof. Benji Rosman (2023) on The Power of Language Models: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUNR4PtBxk8
Martin Bekker (2023) on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdpt6795elo