Who is afraid of AI?
Support for teachers, inclusion of students, awareness of ethical issues and teaching of critical thinking. These were some of the things seen as guidelines when dozens of listeners at the university and more than 200 remote listeners gathered a few days before May Day to consider the growing popularity of artificial intelligence in higher education.
“The use of artificial intelligence requires, above all, the ability to read it, that is, AI literacy. AI has taught me to be more creative. For example, I have used AI as a film director. The film was shown to first-grader pupils,” says Antti Kuusela, who is attending a teacher training programme at the University of Oulu.
“I am concerned about how quickly students learn to use AI to outsmart teachers. The development is very fast, with as many as 50 new tools being released every day. AI may also create inequality between students and employees. Communication skills and critical thinking are key,” says Magdalini Liontou, teacher at the Languages and Communication team.
Many uses at universities
Since November, worldwide attention has been particularly drawn to OpenAI’s ChatGPT service, which anyone can use to get answers to complex, even broad questions in just seconds.
At the University of Oulu event, Mikko Rönkkö, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Jyväskylä, shared his thoughts on artificial intelligence. According to him, there are countless uses for ChatGPT in universities, such as reading and compressing articles, creating base text on a desired topic, rewriting or compressing text, proofreading and creating a PowerPoint presentation.
“Currently, artificial intelligence can answer 90% of multiple-choice questions correctly, so it will pretty much kill multiple-choice tests done on a home computer,” Rönkkö says. “If you want to measure a student’s own knowledge, the assignment should be something very local, topical or requiring analysis.”
And how can we best keep up with the tremendous pace of development?
“The university could appoint certain people to follow the development in the field and summarise it for others. It is also worth asking students how they are already using artificial intelligence.”
The path of banning and restricting use was quickly considered and abandoned. Rönkkö’s employer, the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, announced in January that it will allow the use of artificial intelligence in studies. In practice, AI is quickly intertwining with all tools and everything in our environment, so it is impossible to stay away from it.
One of the technological giants investing heavily in development is ChatGPT co-owner Microsoft, whose software is also used at the University of Oulu.
“As members of the university community, we all get statistics on our work from the Viva service, and the transcription of meetings is also developing slowly but surely,” says Janne Suokas, ICT Service Manager.
“In the M365 service, AI creates at least different text formatting and parsing, translations and subtitles. It helps with summarising, writes emails for us, creates and formats images, and makes articles. In Excel, AI detects trend deviations and makes suggestions for sorting data and, for example, recognises numbers from an image, so there is no need to manually enter numbers into tables anymore. Some of these functionalities already exist, and some are coming,” says Paula Vaskuri, Head of Services, Digital Pedagogy and Video.
University’s policy will be implemented in August 2023
Many universities have published their own policies on the use of AI in education and research. The first draft of the teaching policy at the University of Oulu has also been completed.
The draft outlines, among other things, that the teacher will decide on the use of AI during the course: “Within the framework of the guidelines, the teacher can allow, restrict or prohibit the use of AI according to what is pedagogically appropriate in relation to the learning ourcomes of the assignment or course.” A shared understanding of what is allowed and what is prohibited is necessary. Teachers can also utilise AI, for example in planning studies, drawing up assignments and assessing the course.
The Student Union of University of Oulu (OYY) was involved in the preparation of the draft.
“At a multidisciplinary university, the role of artificial intelligence will be diverse. The spirit of this draft could be summed up in the words equality and transparency. Instead of direct prohibitions or permissions, the policy guides open discussion in courses and increases the knowledge of the new tools and their possibilities for all members of the community,” says Mikko Hakoniemi, member of the OYY Board.
The staff can comment on the policy during the spring, after which the preparatory group will update the policy paper. Our university’s policy on the use of artificial intelligence in teaching will be implemented in August 2023, and it will be updated as necessary in the future.