AI in Teaching & Learning

Ai in Teaching and Learning

What is GenAI?

Generative AI (GenAI) refers to technology that can create new content such as text, images, or code, based on user input. While the utilization of GenAI in education sparks numerous debates, its benefits and drawbacks in our classrooms are particularly noteworthy. The impact of GenAI varies greatly, depending on the subject and the students' learning goals. However, the discourse surrounding GenAI's role in education is vital, as educators strive to fully leverage its advantages while mitigating potential risks for their students. 

Is Use of GenAI Supported at Berkeley?

There are a large variety of GenAI applications, some of which have been directly incorporated into and approved as part of existing tool licenses at UC Berkeley. Other GenAI applications are not available for use at Berkeley and should only be considered if instructors are willing to assume responsibility for concerns with accessibility, privacy, and security.

Instructors should remain open to giving students alternative options for completing an assignment if any GenAI tools are inaccessible to them in any way. Please consider working with the Disabled Students' Program (DSP) for ideas on how to explore accessible alternatives as needed.

Please review the UC Responsible AI Guidelines which outlines the ethical use of AI.

How Does GenAI Affect Teaching and Learning at Berkeley?

GenAI may impact the work of teaching and learning in the following ways: 

Instructors may want to address appropriate uses of GenAI tools in their class contexts.

This may include adding language into a syllabus or for individual assignments to address explicitly how and when students may use GenAI for successful assignment completion.

Instructors may want to revise or rewrite course or assignment-level learning outcomes to mention explicit engagement with GenAI.

It may benefit instructors to review and revise their course or assignment-level learning outcomes to anticipate whether students will engage with GenAI and, if so, what they will learn from engaging with GenAI. Alternatively, instructors may want to revise or review their learning outcomes to clarify what skills or competencies they hope their students will gain by not using GenAI, emphasizing what students should be able to do in their courses independent of GenAI usage.

Instructors may want to update course materials to include or refer to how GenAI may change practices and processes in their disciplines or fields.

Certain course readings or materials may need to be updated to reflect changes in professional or disciplinary practices that have been affected by GenAI usage.

Instructors may want to include an explicit unit or lesson on conducting research in their courses to help students contextualize the use of GenAI as part of a larger research landscape.

GenAI can be very effective at summarizing large swaths of information and generating output. However, GenAI output is not always accurate, and students may need to learn how to cross-check GenAI output with information from other sources, such as research databases and library-supported search engines.

Opportunities and Challenges of Using GenAI

There are several advantages and disadvantages to using GenAI for learning and, ultimately, it will be up to individual departments and faculty to decide how they best see the potential and pitfalls of using it, in any forms, and other similar emerging tools in their courses. Please consider the UC Responsible AI Guidelines which outlines the ethical use of AI. Review the following opportunities and challenges as well as additional curated resources.

Opportunities and Further Reading

Some GenAI tools can generate images or graphics that can give creators some inspiration for creative projects. Students may be able to create illustrations, storyboards, cartoons, or other artistic media more easily than they could render independently.

“Supporting Learning with AI-Generated Images: A Research-Backed Guide”(MIT STS Teaching and Learning Technologies)

ChatGPT provides a discussion point for faculty and students to interrogate the benefits and limitations of artificial intelligence in their learning. Understanding and seeing what’s possible – and what isn’t – will help students recognize how a tool like ChatGPT can help and hinder their ability to complete assignments.

"Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning:" U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology

“ChatGPT Both Is and Is Not Like a Calculator” (John Warner, Inside Higher Ed)

“Update Your Course Syllabus for ChatGPT” (Ryan Watkins)

ChatGPT can kick off classroom conversations about information literacy and where information comes from online. ChatGPT is powered by a particular data set that has clear limitations. Using ChatGPT to conduct simple information searches, like using other search engine tools, can help students see what kind of information they can and can’t find using AI.

"Getting a Grip on ChatGPT" (Alison Head and Barbara Fister for Inside Higher Ed)

ChatGPT Advice Academics Can Use Now (Inside Higher Ed)
ChatGPT can provide generative starting ideas for helping students pre-write or brainstorm ideas for responses to a prompt.

"Assigning AI: Seven Ways of Using AI in the Classroom" (Ethan Mollick)

"How I Approached AI Literacy in the Writing Classroom" (Laura Dumin)

AI Will Augment, Not Replace” (Marc Watkins, University of Mississippi)
ChatGPT can give some writers a template for producing writing in a particular genre (for example, a 5-paragraph essay, a cover letter, or an interview template). The content of the writing may be inaccurate, but the form of the genre may be reflective of the expectations for the assignment or task.

Don’t Ban ChatGPT in Schools. Teach With It.” (Kevin Roose, New York Times)

AI Could Be Great for College Essays” (Daniel Lametti, Slate)

Challenges and Further Reading

ChatGPT can produce full essays based on simple prompts, which may tempt some students into submitting AI-generated essays from ChatGPT as their own work. Here is an overview of some of the many concerns about academic honesty in written assessments: “AI and the Future of Undergraduate Writing
ChatGPT outputs text in an authoritative tone, which may lead some students to believe that all information from ChatGPT is accurate. However, its data set is limited and, as such, may present false data or misinformation.

The New Chatbots Could Change the World. Can You Trust Them?” (The New York Times)

“If ChatGPT doesn’t get a better grasp of facts, nothing else matters” (Fast Company)
ChatGPT is a for-profit tool, actively gathering data from users who input information. While ChatGPT is free to use as of this page’s publication, it will eventually be monetized. It is unclear how the developers of ChatGPT will use the data that users input. By using ChatGPT, users consent to having potentially personal data stored and sold by OpenAI (the developers of ChatGPT). OpenAI Privacy Policy
There are ethical implications to engaging with ChatGPT's dataset, as its development depends on exploited human labor. Workers in the Global South were paid less than $2 per hour to read and label disturbing content, including graphic violent and sexual material, so that it could be removed from ChatGPT's output. "OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic" (Time)
There are economic and environmental ramifications to engagement with ChatGPT. Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, require tremendous computing power that only major tech companies have the funds to support. Running any technology with major computing processes required has an environmental impact, as computing processing facilities will need to be built with facilities that require even larger power and cooling resources. Training ChatGPT led to emissions of more than 550 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

"Tech Giants Rush to put chatbot to work" (Axios)

"The Generative AI Race Has a Dirty Secret" (Wired)
GenAI tools may be inaccessible to students with disabilities. Assigning usage of GenAI could inadvertently exclude students who may not be able to use or engage with these technologies equitably.


Additional Information

RTL will participate on the newly formed Provost’s Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence (PAC-AI) which will provide strategic advice and thought leadership on a broad range of AI issues, including matters that affect instruction and research.

RTL has also partnered with the UC Berkeley Library to form an internal community of practice to explore the innovations, use, and impact of artificial intelligence to support research and instruction. This community aims to democratize access to AI knowledge and facilitate learning about relevant tools and their applications in the library, classroom, and research settings which will then be reflected in our RTL resources for the campus community.

Our resources will be updated as use cases and engagement with GenAI technology continues to evolve.

Last updated: June 26, 2024