‘I just don’t know the answer’ WKU faculty discuss AI in courses – College Heights Herald

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However, some universities and faculty members have taken a much more head-on approach to adapt AI into their lessons.

Marcus Brooks, assistant professor in the sociology and criminology department, elaborated on alternative universities that root their coursework in AI. He said the rise in these alternative universities began with a man named Jordan Peterson, psychology professor and Chancellor of Ralston College, a liberal arts college in Savannah, Georgia.

Marcus Brooks, sociology and criminology professor, talks to his class in Grise Hall on Thursday, Feb. 22. “I’m kind of in the middle with AI,” Brooks said in response to AI’s advancements in a university setting. (Ian Pitchford)

“He got famous a few years ago, like 2015, 2016, when in Kent – he’s Canadian – there was a bill about misgendering students, and he got famous because he’s like, ‘I refuse, I’m not going to use whatever fake pronouns you want to use,’” Brooks said. “So he got famous, and he kind of built a career on this.”

The bill in question is Bill C-16 and is an act towards including transgender and gender-diverse Canadians under human rights and hate crime laws. Peterson felt this bill was an effort to indoctrinate children and create oppressive spaces, Brooks said.

In turn, Peterson announced that he was creating an online university, now formally called Peterson Academy. This university is completely online with no professors. AI is incorporated into the lectures and all courses, including coursework, and is preprogrammed by Peterson and other professionals.

“Education, affordable to all, taught by the best,” the Peterson Academy website states. “Learn how to think, not what to think. Online university. Coming soon.”

While supporting the use of AI in moderation, Brooks does not think these alternative colleges will be accredited, let alone work out in the long run.

“I personally think they’re money-making schemes for the people who start them,” Brooks said. “But if you asked me, I would say it’s a lot of those same people who want to defund universities and offer these alternatives as AI alternatives, are the same ones who are going out saying colleges are too woke and indoctrinating students, and that’s just kind of the rhetoric they use.”

Though Brooks does not see alternative colleges becoming something more than an idea, he does think that AI is changing the way professors are having to teach.

Last December, he switched his assignments from primarily discussion board-based to multiple choice questions and true or false quizzes. By doing this, he discovered different AI Chrome extensions that produced the answers to the questions asked in these assignments.

“Because, again, even in that example, I was like, okay, well, they can copy and paste it and ChatGPT will give them a paragraph, but they can’t put a multiple choice in ChatGPT,” Brooks said. “But now, apparently they can. So, I’m not sure what that looks like long term. But I think it’s definitely something that we need to be thinking about.”

Despite Brooks’ mixed feelings on AI and its uses within the classroom, he recognizes that sometimes, students feel it is their last choice.

“I know, I was an undergrad in college too, obviously, sometimes life is happening, and we just need to get that assignment done,” Brooks said. “But the thing is, when I’m in the classroom, and I’m getting to know my students, and I really tried to share with them is like, these four years, this is a unique time in your lives, and take advantage of it. Like, when else in your life [do] you have four years – I know a lot of you have jobs and responsibilities – but for a lot of you, one of your main jobs is just to learn, and when else do you have that opportunity?”

News Reporter Shayla Abney can be reached at [email protected]

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