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Generative AI, Academic Libraries, and Student Research

May 1  | ​​Kate Ganski and Heidi Anoszko
Kate Ganski and Heidi Anoszko Image
In May’s Active Teaching Lab we were joined by Kate Ganski and Heidi Anoszko from UWM Libraries who shared with us the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on academic research and information literacy. They likewise led us in a robust discussion. Here is a highlight of what we covered:

  • AI will likely change the research process. This includes how we identify research questions, evaluate sources, synthesize information, and write our findings.
  • AI literacy is, or soon will be, essential for student learning as AI will increasingly be built into most all aspects of digital learning and work. Furthermore, a working knowledge of AI will soon become a foundational skill for future jobs.
  • As AI is built upon the internet, it incorporates the many problematic and negative aspects of online information: biases, misinformation, and questionable sources. There is therefore a dire need to teach students to critically evaluate, question, and sift results found from AI and other online tools.

Session Resources

Session Recording

Writing, AI and Rhetorical Thinking Across the Disciplines

April 3  | ​​Shevaun Watson and David Kocik
Lane Sunwall
In April’s Active Teaching Lab, Shevaun Watson and David Kocik explored the intersection of AI and writing instruction. Watson and Kocik argued that while AI can generate writing content, it tends to build generic responses that often lack depth, detail, and analytical rigor. Fundamentally, AI writing lacks rhetorical focus: the purpose, intended audience, and context of communication.

Yet, our students struggle to engage with text at a rhetorical level as well. Foundational English courses explore the importance of rhetorical reading, but afterwards students frequently fail to examine rhetorically their course texts, preferring instead to focus on “what’s on the test.” Watson and Kocik suggest we as instructors can help students to think more critically about written text by building assignments that challenge them to read more deeply and rhetorically. And it is here AI might serve as a valuable resource. Educators can leverage AI as a pedagogical tool to deepen students’ understanding of reading and writing as a rhetorical activity, and teach them the complexities and implicit biases of communication in diverse contexts. Watch the session video to learn more.

Watson and Kociks’ recommendations as to AI’s usefulness to teaching are being echoed in departments outside English and institutions beyond UW-Milwaukee. Business schools at American University and the University of Pennsylvania have both deeply integrated AI into their curriculum. Students utilize generative AI as coaches to learn coding for data analysis, as debate partners to prepare for negotiations, and personalized search engines to mine text. More information can be found here: “Business Schools Are Going All In on AI.”

Session Resources

Session Recording

Teaching Smarter, Not Harder: AI Strategies for Educators

March 6  | ​​Lane Sunwall
Lane Sunwall
March’s Active Teaching Lab explored the practical applications of AI to automate work, expand our educational toolbox, and save time.

Lane Sunwall began the session exploring strategies for our interaction with AI. Lane argued that many of us approach AI as we would Google: type in a prompt and get the answer. Instead, we would be better served envisioning AI as a “person.” This is not to suggest we actually think of AI as sentient, but that we nevertheless approach AI as if we did. When using AI, don’t focus only on the question, problem, or task you want answered. Instead, imagine you’re taking a question or task to an expert who is willing to help. By interacting with AI as if you were chatting with an expert, you’ll better position yourself to push your conversations beyond the limitations of your own knowledge — collaborating with AI in such a way that helps you find not just the answer you asked, but also the ideas and solutions you didn’t know you were actually looking for.

Finally, we explored practical ways in which educators can leverage AI to create spreadsheets, manage course logistics, develop quizzes, and generate customized instructional content. All activities are available in the Lab’s handout.

Session Resources

Session Recording

Adapting to AI: Tools and Strategies for 2024

February 7  | David Delgado and Lane Sunwall

On February 7th, David and Lane lead an exploration into recent AI advancements and how they’ll shape your classroom throughout the upcoming year.

David Delgado began the session showcasing impactful new tools and AI capabilities that are continuing to reshape the educational landscape: including Microsoft Copilot, AI data manipulation, image generation, and mobile AI integration. Afterwards, Lane dove into a hands-on showcase of these tools and a collaborative discussion to exchange ideas and strategies. Finally, Lane wrapped up the session with real-world examples of how educators outside the UW system are utilizing AI and navigating its challenges into 2024.

Lane Sunwall and David Delgado Image

Session Resources

Session Recording

Student Persectives on AI

6 December | Alicia Forier, Danielle Harms, David Kocik, Benjamin Gautsch

In December’s Active Teaching Lab, one undergraduate and three graduate students shared how they and their peers weave artificial intelligence (AI) into their academic work and daily lives. The lab’s conversation navigated through the complexities and ethical considerations of AI use. Students expressed concerns about the accuracy of AI-generated content, potential biases in the information AI provided, and the implications for privacy and intellectual property rights.

Despite AI’s issues, the students noted that the practical applications of AI were expansive. They highlighted its role as a project collaborator: a resource to check citations, revise drafts, and brainstorm ideas. Additionally, they shared how AI served as a research assistant to summarize articles, pinpoint key themes, and recommend related texts.  Finally, as AI continues to improve, and is integrated it into more and more of our digital lives, the students argued there is a need to teach them how to use AI effectively, yet with a critical eye to its faults. In essence, they suggested instructors needed to train them in a new set of digital skills that are fast becoming essential to success in the classroom and the marketplace.

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Session Resources

Session Recording

Strengthen student engagement Via AI-enhanced assignments

1 November | Deanna Wesolowski

On November 1st, Deanna Wesolowski shared how she increased student engagement and learning through the use of AI.

Concerned students would use AI to cheat in her classics course, Dr. Wesolowski adapted: instead of asking students to write a traditional three-page paper, she tasked them with editing, revising, and critiquing an essay written entirely by Chat-GPT. Dr. Wesolowski found the activity improved student knowledge of course content, boosted student interest and engagement, and highlighted to students the danger of relying solely on AI to write their papers.

Deanna Wesolowski image
Digital Handout
Includes Deanna’s assignment instructions and Chat GPT 3.5 prompt

Teaching and AI Ethics in Today’s Digital Classroom

4 October | Lois Scheidt

Generative AI is a powerful tool that can enhance student learning and our own teaching. Yet, we know AI likewise opens the possibility of undetectable academic misconduct.

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In this session Lois Scheidt shares her strategies to help her students use AI responsibly, ethically, and in a manner that fosters better reasoning skills in her online course. We explore AI classroom ethics, how to establish clear guidelines for using AI in your course, and how to use generative AI as a powerful teaching tool.

Digital Handout

Link to Slides

Today’s AI technology and its impact on your classroom

13 September | Lane Sunwall & David Delgado

Are you intrigued by the possibilities of AI but concerned about its role in your teaching environment? Join us for an illuminating exploration by Lane Sunwall and David Delgado into the present and future of AI technology.

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In this workshop, we’ll delve into the current AI landscape and unveil future AI features and applications. Next, we’ll explore into AI’s impact on education, offering insights into crafting effective AI classroom policies and integrating time-saving AI tools into your teaching routine. Finally, we’ll examine innovative assignment techniques that reinforce course objectives while utilizing AI. Bring your laptop or mobile device to engage in a hands-on activity that will provide you tailored resources you can use this upcoming semester.

Digital Handout