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Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Higher Education

​ ​​What is Artificial Intelligence?

A simple flow diagram shows a three step writing process - Draft, Review, Revise and a repeat symbol (from musical notation).
Bill Hart-Davidson

Artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses a variety of computer-based tools that source existing data to solve a problem, such as search tools that rely on algorithms to find information or language translation tools (McCarthy, 2007). Generative artificial intelligence refers to a suite of tools that source existing data to create new artifacts in response to user prompts (Goodfellow et al., 2020). For example, ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) and conversational generative AI that is built on many existing texts. In response to prompts from users, ChatGPT generates text that mimics the writing of humans through a process of statistical correlation. The Modern Language Association and Conference on College Composition and Communication's working paper explains how LLMs and ChatGPT work in greater detail.

Generative AI is an emergent and rapidly evolving space. New tools, or updates to existing tools, are released frequently, but a few examples are helpful in framing out what these tools do:

  • ChatGPT (where GPT stands for “generative pretrained transformer”) sources a broad range of texts and other data in order to respond to inquiries with customized text. It can also generate basic code.
  • Claude is an AI assistant from Anthropic with multiple capabilities.
  • Microsoft Copilot is a free service that provides access to GPT-4 and DALL-E 3. DePaul faculty, staff, and students can access Microsoft Copilot using their DePaul credentials.
  • Microsoft’s Bing search engine has a ChatGPT-based integration.
  • Gemini is Google’s version of a generative text AI. 
  • DALL-E and Stable Diffusion pull from a broad range of image data in order to produce customized images in response to prompts from users.
  • Midjourney a research lab that has created another image creation generative AI. This platform is integrated with the Discord chat application.
  • Lensa is an AI that edits and transforms existing photos.
Many more generative AI tools exist. If you’re looking for a specific generative AI tool, the resources in Stay Current on Higher Education Generative AI Trends​ are a great place to find the latest recommendations, and Harvard's AI Pedagogy Project contains resources for learning more about how AI tools work. 

​DePaul's Approach to AI

At DePaul, we’re encouraged to learn more about emerging AI technologies and help students to learn to use them responsibly.

As noted in DePaul's Approach to Artificial Intelligence, “Universities have a special challenge: on the one hand, we need to prepare our students for a world of work in which AI will certainly play a part, but on the other hand, we want our students to understand and practice integrity in the use of any sources, including those generated by Artificial Intelligence.” DePaul faculty and staff have been charged “to create conditions for members of the University community to learn about both the benefits and dangers of AI and act responsibly.”

AI Teaching Recommendations

 Follow these steps to get started: 

  1. Draft a syllabus statement and discuss academic integrity with students. ​
  2. Look for opportunities to check in with students’ processes and learning strategies. 
  3. Use your assignment prompts to experiment with generative AI tools. 
  4. Discuss the possibilities and limitations of generative AI tools with students.​

Generative AI Assignment and Activity Ideas 

This collection of generative AI assignments and activities, curated by DePaul faculty and the Center for Teaching and Learning staff, offers a variety of options that utilize different tools, cover multiple disciplines, and require varying levels of time investment. See the Generative AI in Higher Education Lesson Plan​ as a great way to start a conversation about generative AI with students. 

AI Detectors

This section explores the capabilities and limitations of AI detection tools. It provides insights into these tools, including Turnitin's AI detection tool, and offers recommendations for addressing AI-generated content in academic settings. 

The following are great resources for engaging with higher education’s ongoing responses to generative AI:

Events and Additional Resources

See Events for opportunities to learn more about AI. Email facultydevelopment@depaul.edu to suggest additions to this guide.