Artificial Intelligence to Reshape Learning in Higher Education

Published: Last Updated on

The University of Indianapolis has no current policy in place regarding the use of artificial intelligence on campus, according to the 2023-2024 student handbook. However, according to Chair of the Sociology Department Amanda Miller, the Learning Resource Committee, a campus faculty group, is currently working on developing a potential policy.

According to Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Kenneth Shields, a standardized uniform approach to AI may not be the best way to deal with this issue. Shields said he was concerned about a general AI policy, emphasizing the diverse objectives, departments, classes and disciplines across various subjects might pose a challenge.

“…I don’t know if the university should have a one-size-fits-all policy, because that could cramp the style of different disciplines and what they’re trying to do,” Shields said.

Shields said he has prohibited the use of AI in his classes. However, Miller does allow students to utilize some aspects of generative AI in limited circumstances because she said she does not believe AI will help students in these cases in her class. 

“I actually have a policy that AI is only to be used with my permission,” Miller said. “But for the assignments that I give you, AI is not going to help you. It’s one of those things that doesn’t necessarily matter that much because you’re gonna get a terrible score [using] AI anyway.”

Shields said  over the past year, he has experimented with new and different assignments to try and combat the issue of plagiarism. According to Shields, students getting a chatbot to write their work is no different from getting a friend to write it for them. 

“I have no problem with students using those things—where it slips into a problem is when it’s plagiarism, right?” Shields said. “If they were to copy a paragraph from one of those entries in the online philosophy encyclopedias or something, and then paste it into an assignment—well, nevermind ChatGPT—that’s just cheating, right? That’s just plagiarism.”

Shields also said he is concerned students are relying on AI to format assignments, which means they miss out on developing some core skills related to philosophy that are applicable throughout their education. According to Shields, critical thinking is a skill that is potentially being hindered by overreliance on AI. Shields likened developing critical thinking to developing how to cook or skills in basketball or swimming. Shields said if students do not practice any of these things, they cannot expect to better their thinking skills

“So, if you don’t know what a basketball is, if you don’t know where the gym is, if you don’t know how to dribble, if you don’t know the rules of the game, if you don’t have those facts in your head, you’ll probably have a hard time learning how to play, right? So, same thing for critical thinking and philosophical training,” Shields said. 

Miller said technological advancement is inevitable, but currently, generative AI can only summarize other things across the internet at this stage. Miller said until we know everything AI can do, it’s only a novelty tool. She said the panic over AI in education is similar to the original aversion some teachers had with calculators in math classes back in the 1970s.

“There’s this fabulous newspaper photo in black and white, so it’s obviously a very old one, from years and years and years ago: It’s math professors protesting calculators,” Miller said. “… Technology is always going to move forward. It’s our responsibility to learn how to work with it and how to work against it.”

 Shields said that an online discussion or class would be a simple and low-cost way to determine students’ opinions, and Miller encouraged students to talk to their professors if they had any doubts or questions about AI use in the classroom. 

“Let’s say that you have this great idea for using generative AI in the classroom to do a particular project,” Miller said. “Go talk to your professor and say, ‘Hey, what if I use AI to do ‘X’ and ‘Y’ and then I did ‘Z’ on my own?’ … [AI is] not taking over the universe yet. As we learn a little bit more, we certainly will need to learn to work with it, as opposed to against it. But that’s true of every form of your technology.”

Students can reference their different class syllabuses for current professor-to-professor AI policies.

Recommended for You