Skip to navigation Skip to content

TRANSCRIPT: Tales4Teaching ep. 70 – Reflections on AI and keeping humans in the loop

Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

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 back to Tales4Teaching. My name is Joan Sutherland and today I wanted to share some thoughts around the last few episodes I’ve done with guests where I’ve delved into AI with academics, the director of Digital Learning, and students through different interviews. But today I really wanted to take a different path.

Today I’m taking a reflective pathway. Instead of an interview, I really wanted to share my thoughts on what I’ve learned so far. The benefits and limitations of AI and a personal story that actually prompted this reflection and highlighted to me the importance of having the human in the loop. To get started, let’s revisit AI in higher education. We know, and we’ve seen many of them, there are so many different benefits of using Ai in teaching and learning.

We heard from Dr. Lucinda McKnight and her experiences of digital writing and the need to use different tools for students and the need to teach our students different forms of writing. We also heard from Associate Professor Trish McCluskey, who shared with us how she uses ChatGPT, and openly reflected on the benefits but also the limitations of AI. We also heard from Supriya and Josh, both Deakin students, and their perspective on how their voice can inform how we shape our stance on AI in higher education.

They are also shared with us their excitements, but also their challenges with using AI. But how is it used? We heard that AI was used from brainstorming to generate ideas, to analysing and summarizing data, to identifying patterns to enhance and support a process. It was really like having a critical friend with you. We also heard from our guests that there are efficiencies. As Trish mentioned, there are many ways to streamline tasks, manage content, and teach our students how to effectively use AI in their day-to-day work. New ways of working were also mentioned. As was highlighted by all interviewees, AI is an opportunity to find new ways of teaching, new ways of interacting. The innovation that AI brings can really transform educational strategies and support new ways of working that we never knew existed. But although there’s some great things happening with AI, there’s still some limitations.

There was excitement for the different opportunities AI brings, but we also didn’t have the rose-tinted glasses on the whole time. We know AI has its limitations. Data privacy was one that was brought up. Another that was highlighted was a digital divide. Can all students access the AI to support them in their learning? What about the bias and hallucinations that come with AI? Can we trust it? How do we teach students to critique these? AI is amazing, but we do have to be aware of the limitations and communicate these effectively to ensure we are working with it. After all, it’s not the be all and end all, or is it?

As I mentioned earlier, this reflection was prompted by a personal experience. What happens when tech fails? Yesterday, I kept thinking about AI because yesterday I was about to facilitate a capability building workshop with new software. But right before I was meant to facilitate, guess what? The tech didn’t work. There I was trying to log into Zoom and the software wouldn’t launch. I knew people were in the waiting room and I had to think on my feet. I ditched the computer I was using, and I logged into my MacBook. I was able to facilitate the session. That was fine. I was able to bring up my slides through Mentimeter, a web-based system, but I didn’t have multiple screens and I needed the window zipper operating system to showcase the software. But I knew a colleague who was on the call had a PC, and the Windows operating software. I had to message her just before the call and ask her to share her screen, and then I’ll talk through it, which she was fine with. It turned out to be fine, but it made me really reflect and think about the discussions I’ve had in the past few episodes about AI and more around the use of technology.

Which brings me to the essence of today’s episode, the importance of humans in the AI driven environment we find ourselves in today. We bring something to the table that AI can’t replicate, Our intuition, our ability to problem solve on the fly, the ability to communicate on a human level. Then I started thinking, whilst it is so important, we understand technology, the features, how to use it, what skills do we need to foster to adapt to this ever-changing world? Because it is changing ever so rapidly.

There were five that really came to mind as a result of my experience. Problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, adaptability, and creativity. These are all things that I’ve heard echoed throughout the podcast this year. Let’s unpack these a little. I thought, what do I mean about problem solving? In teaching and learning we know at each turn there’s a new challenge. Especially when you’re integrating different software. So, with different software we know we have to navigate through the different challenges that come our way. To do this I think about thinking on the fly. What’s the problem? What are the potential solutions? How can I address this problem? In my instance, it had to be really, really quickly. Luckily, I was able to do that. Then I think about critical thinking. This is probably one of the most important skills I hear echoed throughout the conversation with AI, the need to analyse and evaluate information. How do we actually do this? How do we teach critical thinking? Are we teaching critical thinking? we need critical thinking to constructively tackle information. How do we instil these skills in students?

Then, collaboration. I’ve heard of her AI being a guide on the side, and this can be part of collaboration. But if you think about it, and you would have heard this before, none of us are as spar as all of us. Collaboration is about bringing diverse perspectives together, forming connections, and building relationships with others. But do these others have to be human? Something I’m pondering, the ability to adapt. If I think about the tech challenges that arose yesterday, it was my ability to adapt that made sure the training still went ahead and was interactive. The thrust of ChatGPT has shown that the world is ever changing, and change is a constant. Being able to pivot and adjust to new challenges is an invaluable skill set. But how do you teach this?

Then I think about creativity, this has been spoken about umpteen times, the ability to think outside of the square. This is a skill that we use to come up with innovative solutions or different solutions, whether that be technical or pedagogical, we’re creative in teaching and learning all of the time. Then I think why does this matter? Although there is significant focus on what AI tools are being used in teaching and learning, specifically higher education, we also have to consider what other skills we are building with the students.

Highlights. For me, our focus needs to be on many skills in addition to the technical side. As I conclude my reflection today, I hope I’ve highlighted that this is multifaceted and increasingly complex. But it is so important that we keep humans in the loop. We understand our superpower, our ability to address challenges. It highlights for me that it is integral that we foster an environment that encourages problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, the ability to adapt and creativity. By teaching these skills, we may be able to better equip students to effectively use AI tools now and well into the future. With that, I’d like to leave you with the thought: AI in higher education is increasingly complex. How do we support students and staff to build these skills, build these other skills that are definitely needed to effectively use different technologies well into the future. Thank you.

29 June 2023

back to top