Lubbock universities encouraging AI as a tool in the classroom

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock universities are being proactive when it comes to generative AI in the classroom.

Instead of banning or shying away from artificial intelligence, they are encouraging students and teachers to use it the right way.

Doug Darby, associate professor of Integrated Business Technologies at Lubbock Christian University, says the growth of AI technologies, like ChatGPT, took off late last year.

“It exploded like nothing’s ever exploded before. It went from zero to a hundred million users in two months,” Darby said.

Darby is also one of the leaders on the university’s AI taskforce. It was created in the spring, so the university could be proactive about generative technology in the classroom.

“The best strategy for this is not to forbid it, but to educate and to spread the awareness of ethical use and appropriate use, versus just saying it’s a way to cheat,” he said.

Suzanne Tapp chairs the AI Guidelines and Resources Committee at Texas Tech University. She’s also the director of the Teaching, Learning and Professional Development Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Success.

She says ‘generative’ is the key word in the conversation. This technology can be used to write papers, create images, and produce code in seconds.

“So, you ask a question, a prompt if you will, and content is produced. It’s kind of amazing if someone has not delved into this to see how quickly AI responds,” Tapp said.

She says there are dangers to it. The information generated by AI isn’t always correct, it can have biases and often doesn’t sound like something a student would write. She says instead of focusing on the negatives, though, the university is encouraging students to use AI to their advantage in the right way.

“It can be a great way to brainstorm, to try to ask questions that you may not be thinking of, to be an initial starting place,” she said.

Tapp has encouraged her students to use it for mundane things like cover letters for a resume, encouraging them to make sure it fits their style and represents them well.

Darby says it can be a tool for educators too, that way they can focus on the deeper aspects of learning instead of spending time on things like creating a quiz.

“And if I like it, I say okay. Or I can say no, this is not accurate, but I’m not depending on it to take charge,” he said.

Each of the universities have created AI statements teachers can include in their syllabi as a guide. They’ve also adapted their code of conduct for when students abuse it. Tapp says there aren’t great detectors for that yet.

“Instead, I think a better strategy is to rely on the expertise of our faculty. They know their content, they know what their student writing looks like and most of the time, I think we can tell,” she said.

They encourage people not to be afraid of the new technology, but to try it out and see how it can be used as a tool in their own lives.