Rethinking Learning Activities in the GenAI Context
Written by Omelia Tennant and Jill Ballard
February 9, 2024 • 7 minute read
In the context of generative AI (GenAI), many instructors are reimagining their learning activities to ensure academic integrity and support AI literacy.
Course learning activities provide students with feedback about their learning progress—to offer practice, to validate what they know, and importantly, to support them in areas where they need improvement. Learning activities are formative assessment opportunities rather than summative assessments, which focus on evaluating students’ top-level performance.
Toward AI literacy, helping students learn to manage GenAI tools strategically as they learn academically is a new charge for higher education classrooms. Students now have access to a variety of GenAI tools, which can be leveraged when completing learning activities outside of class, and as a result, submitted assignments may not be students’ authentic work. Determining how GenAI can effectively support student learning—rather than hinder it—requires a balance between the goals of academic integrity and AI literacy, of which critical thinking is a key component.
There are many ways to build new or adapt existing learning activities in the context of GenAI, but setting parameters for use is key—clearly establishing the why, how, where, or not-at-all expectations for student GenAI tools use. These parameters may be part of your course-level expectations and/or can be set for each learning activity at the assignment-level. Parameters help promote responsible use of GenAI tools and reinforce their supporting role. Also, considering the learning activity as a process, rather than a product, will help determine where and why GenAI tools might be engaged. For example, it may be appropriate for students to access GenAI tools for brainstorming, which would be indicated in some way in the final assignment submission.
There are various uses for GenAI tools but the two most common uses by students are:
- Brainstorming - By asking questions via a chatbot; start with the prompt “Brainstorm ideas for X”, then add to additional prompts to narrow or expand focus. GenAI tool-based options that help with concept mapping and other applications.
- Feedback - Students can use GenAI tools to help provide personalized feedback to revise, edit and also provide areas for improvement for their writing. This can also be beneficial to language learners. Look out for more information on how to help students maximize the use of GenAI tools for brainstorming and feedback.
Importantly, be sure to experiment with the GenAI tools before recommending them to students. This allows you to develop your prompt engineering skills as well as to address any opportunities to revise the learning activity.
USF Instructional Design can help you customize learning activities using GenAI tools. USF Instructional Design can help you determine solutions that will work best for your course. Visit our scheduling page to make an appointment with an Instructional Designer.
At USF, Dr. Joy Lopez (MA in Educational Technology program) has focused on AI in her graduate course, Navigating the Digital Divide: Digital Leadership. The course explores how digital technologies can help solve pedagogical problems, as well as create opportunities for effective pedagogical practices. With the increased development of artificial intelligence (AI) within the past year, Dr. Lopez focuses on AI and the challenges and opportunities it poses to education and society. The modules in her class are designed to take students on a journey through the world of GenAI where students discern how to use AI, when to use AI, how and when to introduce it to their students, as well as considering the ethical implications of using AI. Students first learn what AI is and how it is used in various industries, and then explore AI tools for writing, creativity, and AI plagiarism detection by recording themselves experimenting with the assigned tools. Throughout the course, students write reflections and blogs that personalize what they are learning, allowing them to think deeply about how AI is transforming the world and the field of education specifically. The course culminates in a professional development training project focusing on AI applicable to their current role in education. Given the ever-changing world of AI, Dr Lopez must continuously update her course with new tools and information.