Artificial Intelligence Assistant Professors – North Star

Artificial Intelligence Assistant Professors – North Star

DeKalb – Artificial intelligence is starting to come into Blackboard for professors with monthly updates from the site to turn time-consuming tasks into time-saving tasks.

Northern Illinois University professors and students use the Blackboard website to conduct courses and classes every day. Professors create modules, outline syllabi, post assignments, and more.

“The AI ​​Design Assistant was announced on July 23 by Blackboard,” said Stephanie Richter, director of excellence in teaching and support at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. “They then made it available to schools using the board in August at no cost.”

Blackboard has implemented this AI feature for professors and faculty at NIU. The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning has begun conducting focus groups during the fall of 2023.

“We conducted focus groups in the fall with faculty to get them comfortable and familiar with AI,” Richter said. “We did demos of the tools to see what concerns they had, what level of interest there was because we wanted to take a really thoughtful approach to how we explore the tool and whether we make it available to all faculty.”

The overall response to these focus groups was positive, so the community ITL took the program one step further by implementing a pilot program.

“Anyone who can participate in the pilot program and is a faculty member must train the teachers and assistant coaches,” Richter said. “Graduate teaching assistants can also sign up if they have approval from their supervising faculty. We now have 75 people who have signed up for the pilot program.

Currently, faculty are the only group at NIU with access to the AI ​​program. Faculty can register to use the beta program at any time.

“I volunteered for the AI ​​pilot program, and the Blackboard AI pilot program gives you access to about seven different features.” said Andrea Guzman, associate professor in the Department of Communications and artificial intelligence researcher. “So some features include access to images and an image database. Some features allow you to create images with AI. Some features allow you to use AI to make suggestions about setting up course modules, and then some features include things like help with assessment forms. Also use it to generate discussion suggestions or question ideas in a very limited sense.

The AI ​​system is updated monthly through Blackboard, so new features are constantly being added. With the pilot system, there is very limited capacity for NIU faculty. In the future, the program may be open to all NIU residents.

“I don’t want to use AI on Blackboard because I feel like students will find a way to misuse it or it won’t be useful or useful,” said Tashik Lawrence, a second-year psychology major at NIU.

Artificial Intelligence is an ever-changing system with new discoveries changing the way AI works.

“We know that AI is vulnerable to bias, hallucinations and misinformation,” Richter said. “So one of the things I really like about this tool is that the AI ​​doesn’t do anything; it makes a suggestion that I decide as a faculty member if I want to use it or not. It really keeps humans in control of one aspect of the basic elements of using AI.” .

Programs for faculty, including this one, are intended to be helpful and make tasks easier. However, employees have concerns about whether AI will handle the tasks created, rubrics, and any other tasks for which AI can be used.

“Humans and AI have to work together,” Guzman said. “We don’t want people to hand over their tasks to AI, and they don’t want AI to take over all their tasks. They want technology, like any other technology, to help them achieve what they do.

While AI is implemented at NIU, it is only open to a portion of the NIU population. With monthly updates released by Blackboard, the software is constantly changing and evolving. In theCenter for Innovative Teaching and Learningstaff are looking for ways to transform higher education into a more technologically diverse society.

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