UCCS’ academic departments discuss AI, experimenting with ChatGPT 

Several of UCCS’ academic departments have been learning more about the benefits and disadvantages of using ChatGPT and other forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a university setting.  

According to an article from Forbes, ChatGPT is a chatbot created by OpenAI that generates humanlike conversations in the form of text. Some of its functions include brainstorming ideas, telling stories and creating written works. 

ChatGPT’s writing capabilities are raising concerns for schools and universities. According to an article from The New York Times, several universities have been making decisions regarding ChatGPT’s place in their courses since it rose in popularity.  

The UCCS Faculty Resource Center is giving departments the resources they need to make similar decisions, and some professors have already begun to research ChatGPT and use it in their courses. 

Janice Thorpe, the director of the Online Communication Degree Program and a senior instructor in the Department of Communication, teaches a course called Digital Communication Technologies.  

Thorpe said that one of her AI-focused assignments for this course allows students to learn how to use ChatGPT as a tool and recognize AI-generated writing using a program called ZeroGPT.  

The students put a writing sample that Thorpe has created and an AI-generated sample through this program, and it determines whether a human or AI created them.  

Thorpe also asks her students to discuss what is not yet known about ChatGPT and the ethics behind it. She said that they have small group discussions about whether ChatGPT is considered plagiarism or not and how it should be cited if a student uses it. 

Professors that do more work with writing are also making an effort to teach their students about ChatGPT and other forms of AI. Sheldon Gaskell, a writing and rhetoric instructor, is teaching an AI-themed writing course this semester.  

Gaskell encourages students to look at AI from a variety of perspectives and allows them to explore how it has impacted their chosen career field through a research assignment. 

“The first assignment in my course is a rhetorical synthesis assignment. This is allowing students to compare and offer perspective to two different stakeholders in the field of artificial intelligence. They’re trying to compare the arguments of those perspectives and basically come to a consensus on which argument is more persuasive for them,” he said. 

Gaskell has not used ChatGPT in his classes yet but says that he is trying to find a way to include it in his coursework.  

While AI programs like ChatGPT are gaining more recognition in universities, UCCS’ Visual Arts program does not see AI art generators making a huge impact on schools and universities. 

Ben Kinsley, co-director of VAPA’s Visual Art program, said that his department has not encountered any issues with AI use at this time. He also said that AI is not as relevant in lower division courses because they place more emphasis on learning techniques. 

“In terms of building skills with digital tools or drawing, I don’t think AI has much of a place. But when it comes to upper-division studio art courses where concept becomes an important aspect in art making, I could see students engaging with the world of AI-generated images in interesting and compelling ways,” Kinsley wrote via email. 

Students can learn more about ChatGPT and other AI programs by visiting OpenAI’s website. 

Photo from forbes.com.