Fifteen questions every college professor should be asking about ChatGPT and other generative AI
As the new academic year starts, generative AI will be a game changer in the classroom. Here are fifteen questions educators should be asking as they gear up to face the coming wave
This semester is going to be one of the first where generative AI is a fact of life from the get-go for most college professors — whether they like it or not. And as they get ready to teach, they need to be prepared.
Despite this, many educators remain blissfully unaware of what generative AI is, how students are using it, how to rethink and restructure their courses in response to it, what their institutional policies are, what their class policies should be, and what they should do when students start using it in “creative” ways!
Not surprisingly, many colleges have been working on developing resources for their faculty around generative AI, and there’s a wealth of information emerging on opportunities and pitfalls around using tools like ChatGPT in the classroom. But I’m not sure that the message has fully filtered down to instructors — which is a worry as, in just a few weeks, classes full of generative AI-savvy students will be starting across the country.
So what should college professors be asking about generative AI as they prepare for the coming semester? To get the ball rolling, here are fifteen starter questions (compiled with the help of a few colleagues):
Where can I find basic information on what ChatGPT and generative AI are, and how they will impact how I teach?
How can I find out about and keep up to date with what my school/department/college/university/institution is doing in response to the impacts and opportunities of generative AI in education?
What should I be conveying in my syllabus and to my students about the use of generative AI in my class?
Is it OK if I don’t use generative AI in my class, and I don’t let my students use it?
Do I have the intellectual and academic freedom to state the accepted level of use of generative AI in my course?
How should I be preparing to teach in an environment where most of my students are using generative AI?
What should I do if I think students are using generative AI to complete assignments in ways that I consider to be cheating?
Should I be using AI-detectors on my student’s assignments? And if I do, what should I do if I get a positive result?
Is it OK for students to use generative AI in class? If so, what expectations and restrictions should I place on this?
Is it OK if I use ChatGPT to provide students with feedback or even grade assignments? If I do, should I tell them?
My class depends on written papers that are used to demonstrate mastery of the class subject and formal writing — what should I do?
How can I adapt and change my assignments so that they achieve what they’re intended for as more and more students use generative AI?
How can I actively incorporate generative AI into my class?
How can I rethink how I teach, given growing access to increasingly powerful generative AI?
How can I help my students develop the levels of generative AI literacy that are increasingly necessary for them to succeed?
Of course, what professors really want is answers. I’m going to be awkward though and not provide any — not because I don’t have them, but because these really should be the responsibility of instructors and their schools and colleges to research, discuss, and agree on.
What is important is that these and other questions are asked, and that clear and specific answers are provided by the relevant organizations. If they’re not, this coming semester is going to be messy — and not just for instructors. Without clarity around the use of generative AI in the classroom, students are also going to suffer as they struggle to divine what they can and cannot do.
The good news is that, by asking questions now, there’s still a window of opportunity to prepare for the coming generative AI wave.
There are, after all, still a coupe of weeks to go before classes start …