News & Features, October 2023

SAU is working to integrate AI into curriculum

Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the world and, at Saint Augustine’s University, some instructors are embracing it to propel their curriculum.
AI, as it is commonly known, has been around for a while. Many websites, for instance, use chatbots to answer simple questions and find information. But, in the past year, several tech companies have introduced generative AI – software programs that appear to think like human beings. AI can generate answers to questions that are so thoughtful that they sound like real people. AI programs can also learn, like a kid who falls off his bike but eventually learns how to ride.

In education, many are alarmed at AI because of the potential that students will use it to cheat or to do so much work for them that they won’t learn. But Saint Augustine’s is officially taking the approach that AI is here to stay and, rather than prohibit students from using it, that faculty should explore ways to teach students to use it so that they can be prepared for their careers.

Saint Augustine’s faculty recently got a crash course in AI at a “Lunch and Learn” led by Dr. Valerie Evans, director of educational technology for the university, and Dr. Larry Woods, assistant professor of business administration at the School of Business, Management and Technology. Attendees at the Sept. 21 session were urged to explore using AI programs in their courses. Faculty learned about popular AI programs such as Claude and Perplexity and heard suggestions about how to use them for curriculum planning and other purposes. They were urged to teach students to use it as long as they used it responsibly.

Professor Woods began using AI in his classes last spring and, along with Dr. Evans, is an AI Ambassador for Saint Augustine’s.

In an interview with the Falcon Forum, Dr. Woods stated, ¨AI allows students to become better researchers and digest information quicker than the average person.¨ Dr. Woods not only sees AI as an advantage for students but also a severe disadvantage for students who don’t utilize it. “If I don’t teach my students how to use AI, I’m not giving them the opportunity to be competitive in the workplace,¨ he said.

Dr. Woods acknowledged that AI can be used irresponsibly, such as for plagiarized work. But he said it does not have be something that instructors fear. “Teachers hold the responsibility to teach students how to use AI ethically,¨ he said.

He added: “AI is a necessity in today’s world. Without it, students moving into the workforce are starting at zero while their competition starts at five.”

— Simeon Davis