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TRANSCRIPT: Tales4Teaching ep. 69 – The role of students shaping the AI landscape in Higher Education

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Intro: Welcome to Tales4Teaching, a podcast where we explore stories with purpose in higher education. We will share expert insights, engaging interviews, and thought-provoking discussions that will inspire your teaching.

Joan: On behalf of Deakin University, I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the unceded land and waterways on which you are located. I acknowledge the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners on which this podcast was recorded, and I pay my respects to elders past, present, and future. My name is Joan Sutherland and this is Tales4Teaching brought to you by Deakin Learning Futures.

Hello and welcome. Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with Josh Kilinc, a computer science student here at Deakin University about the role of students shaping the generative Ai landscape for higher education. And also the ways in which this partnership can play a pivotal role in fostering a sense of belonging to higher education. Welcome Josh. Thanks for joining me.

Josh: Thanks so much for having me, Joan.

Joan: No worries. Well, to get started, can you just introduce yourself for me?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. As you mentioned, my name is Josh Kilinc. I’m setting a Bachelor of Computer Science at Deakin and I’m currently in my third year of study. I’ve always been the into artificial intelligence.

Joan: For a long time, by the sounds of it.

Josh: Yeah. A massive nerd. I grew up reading like sci-fi novels and stuff.

Joan: Yeah, that’s great. How we actually met, you put your hand up to be part of the student advisory group For generative Ai, I actually sought an expression of interest from students who’d be interested in sharing their perspectives of generative AI with our technology partners. And you were the first to respond, which was fabulous. Tell me, Josh, just to get started. How was that experience for you?

Josh: It was really interesting. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. Yeah, I was just really excited. Adobe is like a big company that I’ve always looked up to. I know they’re doing a lot of really interesting things with generative AI at the moment as all companies have.

Joan: Yeah. Taken a world onto itself, hasn’t it?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re not doing something with not even on the map anymore.

Joan: It feels that way, doesn’t it? Can you discuss your interest around generative AI?

Josh: Yeah. So as I mentioned, it started from a super young age. My dad introduced me to authors like Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams. You’re just getting into like AI, and robots and things along that sort of line. Was always a bit of a weird kid, so I thought I might be an alien or robot too. It just resonated with me and it was really interesting.

Joan: What role does generative AI play in higher education?

Josh: That’s a really difficult question. I think that’s one that’s really the main thing we were talking about at the roundtable. I think educators have no idea how much students are using Chat GPT. I’m not sure how prolific the use of it actually is. For me personally, I know I’ve never submitted anything that was written by Chat GPT, except for one thing actually that I submitted last night which but that was the point of it was to have an AI generated section for me. It’s a really good tool for brainstorming. I know I heard a lot of other people saying the same thing at the roundtable. Students using it to just get something on paper, I suppose like just getting a bit of paint on the canvas, basically, it just breaks, that is a bit and gets things moving around on the page. People were using it for writing outlines.

Joan: There are a number of uses discussed around how they use chat GPT. In particular, how do you think generative AI is transforming the landscape of higher education from a student’s perspective, given that generative AI is bigger than Chat GPT?

Josh: Well, within that open AI, there’s a number of different tools. There’s image generators, there’s text generators, video generators, everything. How do you believe it’s transforming the higher education landscape? Absolutely. It’s making people able just move a lot faster. I think it lets people like brainstorm a lot faster. Like speaking of the other tools like I’ve used Dali just to quickly throw together things for like a PowerPoint presentation, I need a little bit of artwork to represent this thing. I’ll just ask Dali can it come up with something? I think it’s a lot easier for people to just move really quickly, try things out, without having to really commit to something. Well, this idea work, let me just throw some things in hope that it’s making people a bit more adaptable in that way iteration process.

I see that with a lot of people when I’ve been doing the peer support stuff and helping other students. It was really that iteration of them, like trying things that are not quite working and then trying again. And that could be really slow for them. I’ve noticed this trimester people, no one seems to need as much help anymore for some reason or if they’re really rapidly moving along and it’s really interesting to see.

Joan: Do you think from higher education perspective, critical thinking is becoming more of a need to be taught in the sense of teaching you to question, to analyze, to interpret, evaluate, and judge. Because one of the things you mentioned was around students trailing it, but not using it for their own. But that critical thinking piece is something that we’ve talked a lot about. What are your thoughts on that?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. It’s something that I think needs to be focused even more of these things as we get tools that can do things for us. The last thing that we have to rely on is our critical thinking skills about, okay, is this actually helping me? What am I actually doing? I think now more than ever, it’s really becoming more important and it needs to be rethought from the ground up.

Joan: Yeah, it’s something that I think everyone’s grappling with. And just at an individual level, community level, education level, and a global scale as well. We met through an opportunity that was provided by Adobe. How was the experience being invited and take part of such a workshop like the roundtable, where your thoughts and your views were expressed directly to a Deakin partner?

Josh: Yeah. It was a really fascinating experience I think as much as like Adobe is one of these big companies that you really large. It’s a little bit nerve racking, but it was fascinating to get the really different range of perspectives. There were people from different universities there and lots of different faculties. There are only a couple of IT focused ones there. It’s really easy to get into your echo chamber of other people in IT. We tend to understand these tools a little bit more. Understand the limitations and how to take advantage of them. There are tools that are getting used by everyone and people have really different views. Especially with some of these tools like the image editing ones and stuff.

It’s really great to hear of other students experience or other educators experience of how they’re using it or how they see their students using it.

Joan: It is always great to look outside and hear what other people are experiencing and how they’re impacted. One of the things you just mentioned was getting out of you often are in your own echo chamber. How do you as an individual get out of that space?

Josh: I think it’s a really tricky thing to do because it’s such a comfortable space to be in, but it really is just about trying new things and reaching out and having an open mind, which sounds really cliche and easy to say. But the thing is, it’s like you need to be really self reflective and think, okay, am I in my bubble? Am I actually really taking the time to consider other people’s points of views and realize that they are valid where they’re coming from. Everyone should have to know how Chat GPT works, know what it’s doing, that’s fine.

Joan: Know that it’s a large language model underpinning it and how that actually works behind the scenes, is that what you’re saying?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. That’s not necessary. People don’t know what goes on in their word processor. They just type and there’s words. That’s fine. It really does affect people in different ways.

Joan: Yeah, I think that’s a great perspective to have, the value that someone adds just because it’s different, it doesn’t make it invalid. It’s totally valid because it’s their perspective. But how that can shape what you’re doing and things that you maybe haven’t considered.

Josh: Yeah, of course.

Joan: So being invited to the roundtable that you were and being part of the discussion and it was really well received. And thank you for your time doesn’t increase your sense of connection to Deacon University.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I think it was one of the things I noticed being that is some students talking about how they just really weren’t sure what they could do. They weren’t sure what their universities policies on anything were. They were too afraid to use it. Just being part of the advisory group and knowing that Deakin is actually looking at what students are doing, how they’re using the tools and how to shape policy informed by the students experiences. That was really great, really made me feel listened to and like there was like an actual dialogue going on at Deakin.

Joan: Great. I’m excited to hear that you felt that dialogue. And I know on the day when someone was saying they didn’t feel a certain way, you said, I actually don’t feel that way. And that dialogue that you feel like you’re a part of, that’s really good that you’ve put your hand up to be part of these groups to contribute as well. Because it is your time and your thoughts and your process. We thank you for that because it all goes a long way to inform policies and procedures as well, but also just ways we interact and increase community and sense of connection.

Josh: Absolutely just like having that dialogue open and that back and forth. It’s really important.

Joan: As a student, what opportunities do you believe there are for students to get more involved in their university community?

Josh: I think one of the things is looking for opportunities like that. Seeing if there are advisory groups are amazing, but there’s things you can do outside of things like that. Like most universities are going to have clubs and things like that you can join or just voicing your opinion, going and talking about it and having those discussions and not being afraid to go and ask questions, just like share your thoughts and opinions.

Joan: It is a challenging one though. Sharing the thoughts and opinions, is there something that you’ve done? Because sometimes when we keep it to ourselves, it’s a lot easier. And as you said before, that echo chamber is that safe space, you feel comfortable in it, whereas when you’re, you’re saying your perspective or your belief system or your value set, it can be challenging to get that across or have the confidence to do that. Is there any strategies that you’ve used to be able to feel confident to do that?

Josh: I’m not sure. I think I get so excited about the topic that I can’t shut up. For me in that way I get really excited to share and talk about it. I think it’s such an exciting thing, an exciting period to be living through, seeing all these changes that how could you not want to talk about it and discuss it? But I guess it’s just accepting your opinion and your experience and thoughts are valid and your own other people have different ones. That’s fine. Really not take anything too personally, no one knows what’s going on, it’s fine.

Joan: It sounds like you’re in the right field of computer science to be working with a. You’re so excited to be talking about it and be part of it, I suppose. And this revolution that’s happening and the impact of generative AI and what impact you can have on it too.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I’m so excited. It’s changing so rapidly is really hasn’t been a big shake up for a while, at least in my field. The last big one was really the iPhone. Yeah. It’s really exciting to see it in it. Back to the industrial revolution or the printing press a bit. People heralded it at the end of days, but they’re all tools and people will find ways to take advantage of them in the best ways. I think my hope is that you really frees up time for people to be more productive and do what they want to do. This is just through the busy work.

Joan: Where you given some examples of how you use it in your life and your studies? I suppose around the brainstorming and getting started and getting unstuck, I suppose.

Joan: Yeah. Thank you for your time today talking about AI, also just about that sense of connection and being a part of something and being invited to different partnerships like we have and different events where you can contribute and feel like your voice is heard is so critical for us, and that’s why we’re here, is to make sure that your view is imparted on our policies and procedures and our ways of doing things. I’d like to invite you for any lasting comments.

Josh: I don’t know. I suppose it’s about education and understanding, really. It’s about knowing your tools and what they can do and their limitations and Yeah, just listening and being open things to go to change a lot. And it’s just being open minded and trying to adapt, be flexible.

Joan: That’s great lasting comments, I should say, Josh, especially adapting. It can be challenging, but it is something that we’ve proven that we’ve done before and we can do it again, just looking at ways in which it works for you. Look, I’d love to thank you for your time today. I really appreciate and also your time coming to the roundtable to share your thoughts and your perspectives around generative AI and how it can shape products, but also process and education as a whole.

Josh: Absolutely. It was so much fun. Thanks so much.

Joan: I’m glad. See you.

Josh: All right, thanks to you.

9 June 2023

Last modified: 13 June 2023 at 12:42 pm

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