Artificial Intelligence and Teaching
“There is no escaping it: generative AI like ChatGPT is the future of information processing and analysis, and it will change the teaching and practice of history.” 
Over the past six months, it’s unlikely that you could have missed news about generative Artificial Intelligence and the impact that it may have on teaching and learning. University teaching and learning centres have been organizing resources and tools to support those who are trying to figure out how assignments, courses, exams, and learning will be affected. In some quarters there have been calls to ban ChatGPT and any form of AI that may be used by students. Leaning in the other direction, a number of institutions have sought to embrace ChatGPT, with their leaders arguing that it is the way of the future and that to blaze a trail in making positive use of its features is the right way to go (for example, the International Baccalaureate system of education made an early call in this direction). As Mark Humphries and Eric Story have noted in their Active History blog (quoted above), AI will transform how we teach and practice history. Having a strong understanding of the strengths and limitations of the technology is an important point of departure so that we can begin to adapt and collaborate on ways to create educational environments that are geared towards learning objectives that are central to the humanities.
We need more debate and discussion about this tool. A search of the Annual Conference programs for the American Historical Association and the Canadian Historical Association, 2023, indicates that this technology is not yet part of our professional discussions. We hope that this blog and the sharing of syllabi may encourage future panels and discussions on AI and teaching.
In our preliminary thinking about the most immediate areas of concern for us as educators in the field of history, the following three discussion points rose to the surface. Historians have a reputation for being reactive, rather than proactive, in our orientation towards pedagogical challenges. Is there the potential here for being fully engaged in managing the shift that we are witnessing? We’ve provided some notes from our review of related think pieces as a way of entering these discussions.
How does one create an AI-proof assignment?
The solutions to this problem vary significantly. Some scholars encourage us to lean into AI technology and use it as a learning tool. Others suggest that we need to return to sit-down exams and make time in course structure to have students work on their assignments in class.
In a recent twitter thread, Isaac T. Soon asked if there was an AI-proof essay assignment yet and specifically called out to Dr. Nick Elder for his view. In response, Elder suggested that educators consider how they create and foster a culture of learning in the classroom by first fostering healthy intellectual relationships with students in terms of letting students know that assignments are about sharing their learning and knowledge. As an educator, we want to know what the student thinks rather than reading their AI-derived text. He suggested that assignments and work provide the opportunity for students to include personal views and experiences, and so personalized prompts can be important elements of an assignment. Linking an assignment to something the student has an interest in, or that connects to where they are from, can support this approach to limiting the use of AI.
Another suggestion was to support analog learning, including requesting hand-written essays. Others from this conversation suggested that students complete their work in “staged drafts.” In this way, students submit their proposed topics, bibliographies, notes, and perhaps even a personal reflection on their work as part of the evaluation.
What do you do when you suspect that there is AI in a student’s submitted work?
For many of us, this year’s review of assignments initiated the first serious consideration of AI in students’ submitted work. Some of our colleagues have suggested that when AI has been detected, the student might be called in for an oral exam on their work. Others who have shared their experiences note that including an element of oral examination will help to dissuade those who may consider using it. It has been difficult to find information on how to create AI-proof assignments as described and outlined among members of the historical profession. Perhaps this gap in our professional discussion is an opportunity to collaborate in deepening our knowledge about AI and pedagogy?
Educators in various fields have begun to discuss ways that AI might be put to service in streamlining and decreasing our preparatory work for new course production. What does this mean for us, as historians?
When contemplating the potential uses of AI in our own teaching, professional historians are bound to ask: What are the risks involved in making use of AI when creating syllabi? And, likewise, what are the risks involved in relying upon AI when creating lectures? There will be many who embrace the technology, not only because AI will provide shortcuts in a work world where we frequently find ourselves short of time. If AI-generated material is used intelligently, might the benefits outweigh the risks? Are there ways to make use of this ChatGPT and other emerging AI tools that will lift the bar in the classroom, for the educators as well as the students, rather than lowering it?
AI Tools in Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning Centres in higher education institutions are working to support staff and students as they navigate AI-generated work. We have benefited from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University: https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/news/ai-tools-teaching-and-learning and the University of Ottawa’s Teaching and Learning Support Services: https://saea-tlss.uottawa.ca/en/about-the-tlss. In addition to the excellent blog post by Humphries and Story, below are several resources that might generate ideas for adapting how we teach and practice history.
Some resources to explore Artificial Intelligence and teaching:
—–. “ChatGPT: Implications for Teaching and Student Learning | CRLT.” From the CRLT Blog (blog), January 9, 2023. https://crlt.umich.edu/blog/chatgpt-implications-teaching-and-student-learning.
Alimardani, Armin, and Emma A. Jane. “We Pitted ChatGPT against Tools for Detecting AI-Written Text, and the Results Are Troubling.” The Conversation, February 19, 2023. http://theconversation.com/we-pitted-chatgpt-against-tools-for-detecting-ai-written-text-and-the-results-are-troubling-199774.
Bates, Tony. “Playing with ChatGPT: Now I’m Scared (a Little) | Tony Bates.” Online Learning and Distrance Education Resources (blog), January 2, 2023. https://www.tonybates.ca/2023/01/02/playing-with-chatgpt-now-im-scared/.
Brake, Josh. “Education in the World of ChatGPT.” Substack newsletter. The Absent-Minded Professor (blog), December 6, 2022. https://joshbrake.substack.com/p/education-in-the-world-of-chatgpt.
Bruff, Derek. “Three Things to Know about AI Tools and Teaching – Agile Learning,” December 20, 2022. https://derekbruff.org/?p=3970.
ChatGPT, Katie Metzler and. “How ChatGPT Could Transform Higher Education.” Social Science Space (blog), December 7, 2022. https://www.socialsciencespace.com/2022/12/how-chatgpt-could-transform-higher-education/.
Chrisinger, Ben. “Opinion | It’s Not Just Our Students — ChatGPT Is Coming for Faculty Writing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2023, sec. Opinion. https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-not-just-our-students-ai-is-coming-for-faculty-writing.
D’Andrea, Aaron. “Canadian Universities Crafting ChatGPT Policies as French School Bans AI Program – National | Globalnews.Ca.” Global News, February 1, 2023. https://globalnews.ca/news/9451143/chatgpt-education-canadian-universities/.
Does ChatGPT Change … Everything? | The Agenda, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBWPXEfYXYM.
Farooqui, Salmaan. “How ChatGPT, Other AI Tools Could Change the Way Students Learn.” The Globe and Mail, January 31, 2023. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-chatgpt-education-ai-technology/.
Gleason, Nancy. “ChatGPT and the Rise of AI Writers: How Should Higher Education Respond?” THE Campus Learn, Share, Connect, December 9, 2022. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/chatgpt-and-rise-ai-writers-how-should-higher-education-respond.
Gurung, Regan A. R. “The Smart Friend Issue: A Philosophy for Coping with ChatGPT Fears.” The Teaching Professor (blog), May 1, 2023. https://www.teachingprofessor.com/topics/student-learning/the-smart-friend-issue-a-philosophy-for-coping-with-chatgpt-fears/.
Humphries, Mark, and Eric Story. “Today’s AI, Tomorrow’s History: Doing History in the Age of ChatGPT.” Active History (blog), March 1, 2023. https://activehistory.ca/2023/03/todays-ai-tomorrows-history-doing-history-in-the-age-of-chatgpt/.
Khatsenkova, Sophia. “ChatGPT: Is It Possible to Spot AI-Generated Text?” Euronews, January 19, 2023, sec. next_biztech-news. https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/01/19/chatgpt-is-it-possible-to-detect-ai-generated-text.
Marche, Stephen. “The College Essay Is Dead.” The Atlantic, December 6, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/12/chatgpt-ai-writing-college-student-essays/672371/.
McKnight, Lucinda. “Eight Ways to Engage with AI Writers in Higher Education.” THE Campus Learn, Share, Connect, October 14, 2022. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/eight-ways-engage-ai-writers-higher-education.
Riddle, Randy. “Some Thoughts on AI, Plagiarism and Student Assessment.” Duke Learning Innovation (blog), January 10, 2023. https://learninginnovation.duke.edu/blog/2023/01/some-thoughts-on-ai-plagiarism-and-student-assessment/.
Rogers, Reece. “How to Detect AI-Generated Text, According to Researchers.” Wired. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-spot-generative-ai-text-chatgpt/.
Stokel-Walker, Chris. “AI Bot ChatGPT Writes Smart Essays — Should Professors Worry?” Nature, December 9, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-04397-7.
Sunders, Samuel. “Rather than Ban Generative AI, Universities Must Learn from the Past.” University World News, February 24, 2023. https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20230221075136410.
Warner, John. “How About We Put Learning at the Center?” Inside Higher Education. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/how-about-we-put-learning-center.
What Is ChatGPT? OpenAI’s Chat GPT Explained, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5MutYFWsM8.
 Mark Humphries and Eric Story. “Today’s AI, Tomorrow’s History: Doing History in the Age of ChatGPT.” Active History (blog), March 1, 2023. https://activehistory.ca/2023/03/todays-ai-tomorrows-history-doing-history-in-the-age-of-chatgpt/. This blog post also appeared as a two-part series on the CHA’s Teaching blog with permission.
 Dr. Nick Elder, April 27, 2023: https://twitter.com/isaacsoon2/status/1651534811691884544
 Chrissy Hansen, April 27, 2023: https://twitter.com/DepthsofTime97/status/1651622593206579202