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ChatGPT In Schools: What Educators Should Do About It

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Most educators aren’t remotely prepared for the impact ChatGPT will have on education. But there are some questions you can ask and steps you can take to get ahead of it.

Paul Roetzer, founder/CEO at Marketing AI Institute, shared those questions and steps on Episode 30 of The Marketing AI Show.

Roetzer is a marketing AI expert who has advised several universities on how to navigate AI’s impact on education, business, and society.

His advice can help any educator begin to ask the right questions and take the right steps to make sure their school and students evolve at the pace of AI.

Questions you need to be asking

You need to move fast. Start by asking some important questions.

Does anyone in the school understand AI?

“The answer is probably ‘no,’” says Roetzer.  Most AI knowledge in universities is locked up in the computer science department. It’s treated as a technical discipline.

“There are very few professors and educators I have come across who are treating AI as a business discipline.”

You need to be. AI will impact every major and career path moving forward.

What is the school’s point of view on AI?

Now is the time to establish a viewpoint on how AI should be used inside and outside the classroom.

As a strategy, it’s close-minded and ineffective to just not allow it, says Roetzer.

Who knows AI well enough to lead a class on it?

Even if you want to teach how AI will change business and careers, who knows the topic well enough to lead a class on it?

Professors who teach AI need to be able to do more than just show a couple tools and explain it at a cursory level. They must be able to understand the fundamentals of the technology and its impact on business.

A relatively low percentage of people have this type of knowledge today. You may need to seek outside help.

What are we doing today that will be obsolete in the next 3-5 years? How do we adapt?

Look at your curriculum, experiences, and testing. What does ChatGPT make obsolete or impractical? Are take-home essays dead? “The answer to this one is ‘yes,’” says Roetzer.

The way you operate today will need to adapt to this new normal.

What skills do we need to be teaching?

When AI can do core cognitive skills at a near-human level, how does that affect the development of critical thinking? What remains uniquely human in the age of intelligent machines?

These are questions that even the most advanced AI experts struggle to answer. But you need to start grappling with these questions given the rate of technological advancement we’re experiencing.

What do career paths look like in the next 3-5 years?

A freshman right now, in any discipline, will graduate into a profession that looks very different from how it does today, thanks to AI disruption.

Educators must begin to theorize what the industries of the future look like.

Steps you need to be taking

Roetzer recommends a few steps to start, based on his experience helping universities and educators navigate the age of AI.

Every single major should have an AI 101 course.

You can’t just teach AI in a computer science program or in business majors. Every single major needs to understand the fundamentals of the technology and how it’s going to disrupt their career path.

“I don’t care if you’re an artist, a salesperson, a chemical engineer, AI is going to be in all of it,” says Roetzer.

“You have to figure this out. Who are you going to go who can help you do that?” If you don’t have someone, your number one priority is to find someone who can teach this material.

Audit your alumni group.

Find anyone working in AI and invite them back to campus for a symposium or an informal think tank.

They can be practitioners on the technical side or businesspeople using the technology in their work or products and services.

It may be harder to find these people if you’re a smaller institute, but the logic is the same:

Do a simple LinkedIn search. Find all the people who graduated from your school. And filter by anyone who has AI or machine learning in their title.

Get these people to campus—now. And get them talking about where this is going and what you should be doing about it.

One great example of this in practice:

Roetzer was invited to his alma mater, Ohio University, for a half-day workshop on AI in 2018. The workshop included every faculty member and administrator at the business school.

Topics discussed included: what is AI, its impact on education, brainstorming ideas how Ohio University could adapt, and how to infuse AI into the curriculum.

Having as many staff involved as possible is critical, he says. Don’t assume your faculty understands AI. Most don’t.

“The benefit is that once you teach the fundamentals, peoples’ eyes light up with all the ways it’s going to impact the major they’re teaching,” says Roetzer.

Most importantly, make sure educators understand AI.

ChatGPT is capturing headlines. But it’s just the beginning of what’s possible with AI. And most people, even the ones using ChatGPT, have no understanding of the fundamentals of AI as a larger discipline.

“We can’t have this in higher education,” says Roezter. “Professors have to understand AI at a deeper level. They need the AI 101 course themselves.”

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