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Last November, the release of ChatGPT marked the beginning of an exciting, uncertain, and provocative moment for higher education: the emergence and rapid development of publicly-available generative AI technologies. Since then, educators have rushed to keep pace with this phenomenon, particularly as it poses paradigmatic questions for how we teach, learn, and conceive of our work as scholars and educators.

On Monday, October 16, thirteen presenters from six institutions across the state took the stage at the 2023 Commonwealth Computational Summit to explore the opportunities and complexities that generative AI presents for the future of higher education. The "AI in Education" session represents a unique collaboration between UK ADVANCE, CELT, and the UK Center for Computational Sciences to feature, for the first time at the Summit, an afternoon dedicated to education focusing on the impact of generative AI on teaching, learning, and student success.

"Creativity among faculty was on full display as techniques were shared from a variety of fields," said Mark Shanda, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts. "I was encouraged to learn how others were effectively using the tool that AI is, to guide students and modify assignments for enhanced learning."

Yongsheng Lian, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville and one of the session's presenters, recalled the 1956 Dartmouth Summer Workshop on AI, which is widely regarded to have kicked off the field of artificial intelligence research. "We hope that this summit will serve as a catalyst for sowing the seeds of transformative AI initiatives that will flourish in the educational landscape of Kentucky and beyond," he said.

Beyond presentations, the Summit also sought to provide space for participants and presenters to follow up with each other and discuss ideas in more depth.

"I was able to discuss and share some of the applications I was looking to explore further," said Winter Phong, assistant professor of arts administration at the University of Kentucky and another of the session's presenters. "I see the potential for AI to offer assistance as a tool to support workflow challenges and improve and standardize communication. There is also potential for non-native speakers to gain better footing with message content when direct translations or cultural norms might interfere with client expectations."

In addition to the presenters on Monday afternoon, an education keynote was given on Tuesday morning by Bill Hart-Davidson, professor of rhetoric, writing, and cultures and associate dean of research and graduate education in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. Titled "When Robots Learn to Write, What Happens to Learning?," the keynote explored the impact of generative AI on writing as a behavior, workflow, and learning activity.

Hart-Davidson emphasized the importance of instructors framing writing as a practice-based and social activity and suggested that the integration of generative AI across professional and learning environments asks us to place more importance on "criterion-based review and revision" in addition to drafting for the teaching and practice of writing. Referencing "our new (old?) mantra," Hart-Davidson underscored that even when robots learn to write, "[w]e need to see the practice, and students need feedback on it."

The AI in Education session drew an audience of researchers, professionals, and technicians as well as instructors.

Jim Ridolfo, professor and chair of writing, rhetoric, and digital studies at UK, commented that "it was a true highlight to hear educators theorize and reflect about how their teaching interacts with generative AI. I was especially impressed with the cross talk between educators and industry, and how keynote speakers referenced the pedagogical talks."

CELT is especially grateful to Tony Elam, associate director of the UK Center for Computational Sciences, for the invitation to participate so meaningfully in the Summit, and for organizing the Summit broadly. Now in its seventh year, the Commonwealth Computational Summit is hosted jointly by UK's Center for Computational Sciences and ITS/Research Computing Infrastructure.

Presenters represented Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Transylvania University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. Below is the full agenda for the AI in Education session:

  • AI and the Futures of Teaching and Learning: A Discussion
    • Trey Conatser, Director of CELT, University of Kentucky
    • Leah Simpson, Executive Director of Online Learning and Faculty Development, Kentucky Community and Technical College System
  • Research and Scholarship on AI in Education
    • "Charting the Digital Discourse: Understanding the Research and Instructional Value of Discursive Exchanges with AI," C. Sean Burns, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Kentucky
    • "Empowering Education with AI: Unveiling Mark, Your Virtual Teaching Assistant," Yongsheng Lian, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisville
    • "The Ethics of AI Chatbots from a First-Year Engineering Student Perspective: Surveys and Course Developments," Campbell Bego, Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Fundamentals, University of Louisville
    • "Generative AI for Medical Device Design," Kristi Bartlett, Assistant Professor, Department of Product Design, University of Kentucky
  • Uses and Applications of AI in Education
    • "Preparing Our Students for an AI-Enhanced Workplace," Lisa Blue, Instructional Specialist: STEM-H Teaching and Learning, Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, Eastern Kentucky University
    • "Correcting Chat: A Model for Take-Home Essays," Jaclyn Johnson, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky
    • "ChatGPT: An Accelerator of Creative Ideas," Katie Mullen, Lecturer, Department of Arts Administration, University of Kentucky
    • "ChatGPT and Research Methods in the Psychology Classroom," Iva Katzarska-Miller, Professor of Psychology, Transylvania University
    • "AI in Practice Reflection: Using Classroom Applications to Combat Industry Challenges," Winter Phong, Assistant Professor, Department of Arts Administration, University of Kentucky
    • "Announcing the Planned UK AI Certificate," Judy Goldsmith, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky