Thursday, May 27, 2021
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) into more and more sectors of our life has been chronicled extensively in the media. Use of A.I. as an educational aid is in its infancy. Yet, post-secondary institutions have been using artificial intelligence applications and agents for several years for purposes such as adding interactivity or fielding questions. However, the human implementation challenges and user experience issues has not been well addressed. Over the past five years of my teaching career, I have taught courses that have used artificial intelligence to augment coursework (e.g., replacing lab or workshop type work). Last year, I was tasked with implementing an online course where artificial intelligence formed the bulk of a course delivery and evaluation methods. The implementation of the course was not without challenges from start to finish. The challenges of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning and natural language processing, are being extensively researched. Although such issues do entail challenges for instructors with AI. powered course elements, they represent only a portion of the challenges. First, there are the human issues of how to assuage university staff and faculty of their concerns about AI’s ability to deliver quality education. Secondly, there is the justifiable labour issues and concerns of AI replacing teaching and grading assistants. Finally, there are student concerns over the lack of “human touch” and their experiences. Through my auto-ethnographic explorations and quantitative student feedback, I will explore briefly address the challenges of implementing AI in post-secondary education and offer guidance for troubleshooting and overcoming these challenges. The overall take-away message is that the singularity is not here, there’s no need to worry (yet), and AI can be a valuable teaching aid with careful planning and continual refinements.
- Glen Farrelly, Athabasca University