In my January 24 blog, I began to explore the opportunities presented by artificial intelligence (AI) for the future of post-secondary education. This latest guest blog offers a closer look at engaging with AI to support student learning.

To support this work, Humber’s Centre for Innovative Learning is convening a focus group on AI and teaching and learning. Approaches to AI in teaching and learning will also be explored as part of this year’s Showcase event.

Thank you to Jason Powell, Senior Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness and Jennie Miron, Academic Integrity Lead, Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness, for offering considerations and insights on this timely topic.

Signature of Gina Antonacci (Gina)

Engaging with Artificial Intelligence to Support Student Success

Recently our news and social feeds have been flooded with discussions and opinions about artificial intelligence and its capabilities for our day-to-day lives. From the hilarious (poetry on topics from human anatomy to the legal system) to the practical (passing the MCAT and LSAT exams), the media reports have been diverse and plenty. These media and other attentions have fostered discussions related to the impact to the educational sector with both excitement and trepidation as to what it will mean for student learning and our teaching practices. While ChatGPT has been in the spotlight, it is important to remember that this it is but one of the many artificial intelligence applications that are, or will be, available for our (and our learners) use.  ChatGPT is a generative tool and a large language model that works on demand. Its capabilities rely on drawing on large amounts of data and various computing techniques. While at first glance the output from ChatGPT is remarkable, it has some opportunities and limitations that are worth considering in our educational context. It is important to also note and accept that many industries that we prepare our graduates to enter will be working with artificial intelligence and as such it will be important that we prepare our graduates for its ethical use.

Importantly, the ChatGPT output is sometimes incorrect or lacks depth because it works with fixed content. The text it generates can lack insight, the ability to synthesize data from a variety of sources, and evidence of higher order critical thinking. It may also reflect the bias of those who inputted the original data. While ChatGPT is available through an open access platform, there is a possibility it will become monetized in the future. Artificial intelligence applications, like ChatGPT, will continue to evolve and become even more sophisticated in their function.

There are ways to work with artificial intelligence that will support and enhance learning for students. It is first important to know about these applications, and exploring their capabilities is one way to gain confidence in their usefulness. It is important to consider, as with any innovation, what direct impact AI will have for student learning. Talking directly with students about artificial intelligence and situating it within the learning outcomes for courses and programs to help students appreciate the importance and relevance of the content we are teaching, is crucial. Clearly discussing when the use of these applications is appropriate, and when it is not, will meet this challenge head on, and allow for frank and up-front conversations about expectations for its ethical use in our courses and programs. Creating opportunities in our learning settings for artificial intelligence can be another opportunity for us to model its ethical use. As we build our assessments, appreciation for the capabilities of these applications and how students may use them is important.

While in some ways the path forward is still uncharted, the possibilities for engaging with artificial intelligence to support student learning is an exciting one. As you learn more, from the many sources available, and the students you engage with, please feel free to share your learnings, innovative approaches, and creative solutions. Humber is better off when we share and collaborate across the institution in support of our student learning. 

Jennie Miron, Reg.N., BScN., MSc., Ph.D.,

Academic Integrity Lead, Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness

Jason Powell RN., BScN., MScN., PhD.

Senior Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness.