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Generative AI has been around for a few years, but it hit the higher ed scene in a big way in 2022 with ChaptGPT. All of a sudden, it seemed, artificial intelligence was becoming more than science fiction. Useful tools became available to the average person, and the imperative to understand and join the revolution became a reality. This fall, those academic offices, university classes and research studies that do not tap the potential of GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) apps using LLMs (large language models) will stick out like virtual Model-T Fords on the turnpikes of the 21st century.

Seriously, the power of these apps is enormous and growing fast. Our colleagues and students are expecting us to utilize these tools this fall. With only half a dozen weeks left to the start of the fall term, what can you possibly accomplish?

Naturally, I asked a couple of the leading generative AI applications for their advice. I prompted ChatGPT+ and Google Bard on June 22, 2023, to give me some ideas of what we can still do at this point in the summer. Collectively, they recommended some 50 different generative AI activities to pursue in higher education teaching and administration. I selected some of those to share with you here.

First, however, I recommend that you take an hour or so to practice writing prompts for the various AI tools you plan to use. Laura Starita, from the Content Strategist, provides a useful list of elements of successful prompts that you will want to review before beginning your quest. In brief, she recommends:

  • Describe your goal output.
  • Describe the audience and style.
  • Include keywords or phrases you want the AI to incorporate.
  • Ask for any special formatting.
  • Provide source material or examples.
  • Revise.

Make sure you read the brief article linked above to learn the important nuances of how to successfully prompt generative AI. You will then be ready to begin.

Each of the apps I prompted came up with uses by categories. Here are some of the possibilities that Google Bard and ChatGPT recommended.

Enhancing Teaching

  • Generative AI can be a powerful tool for curating and creating educational content. (ChatGPT)
  • Personalizing instruction: Generative AI can be used to personalize instruction by generating customized learning materials and assessments for each student. This can help to ensure that all students are able to reach their full potential. (Google Bard)
  • Generative AI can be used to create interactive learning modules that engage students and help them learn in a more meaningful way. These modules can include text, images, videos and simulations. (Google Bard)
  • Personalized learning: Given the AI’s ability to adapt to user inputs, it can help create personalized study materials, tutorials, or even quizzes tailored to each student’s unique needs. (ChatGPT)
  • Providing feedback on student work: Generative AI can be used to provide feedback on student work, identifying areas where students need additional help. For example, a generative AI tool could be used to analyze student essays and provide feedback on grammar, style and content. (Google Bard)

Administering Academic Departments

  • Managing budgets: Generative AI can be used to manage budgets and identify areas where costs can be saved. This can help to ensure that programs are sustainable and efficient. (Google Bard)
  • Documentation and reporting: AI can automate the creation of meeting minutes, reports or other administrative documents, reducing manual effort and improving precision. (ChatGPT)
  • Communication: AI can draft emails, newsletters or other forms of communication, ensuring consistency and professionalism. It can also help handle frequently asked questions or standard requests, freeing up time for more complex tasks. (ChatGPT)
  • Identifying trends in enrollments: comparing your programs to those at competing universities including content, emphases and new initiatives. (Google Bard)
  • Planning and scheduling: AI can assist in creating course schedules, planning meetings or organizing events, bringing speed and convenience to complex logistical tasks. (ChatGPT)

Improving Efficiency

  • Data analysis: Generative AI can help analyze complex data sets, providing insights into student performance, course efficacy and administrative effectiveness. This will inform evidence-based decision-making and strategy development. (ChatGPT)
  • Researching topics: Generative AI can be used to research topics and find information. This can save time for professors, deans and directors who need to stay up-to-date on the latest research in their field. (Google Bard)
  • Recruiting students: Generative AI can be used to recruit students to academic programs. This can help to attract a more diverse and qualified student body. (Google Bard)
  • Automating tasks: Generative AI can be used to automate many of the tasks that are currently performed by humans. This can free up time for professors, deans and directors to focus on more strategic work. (Google Bard)
  • AI can identify patterns and trends, predicting student performance or foreseeing potential administrative challenges. This can help educators and administrators proactively address issues, improving both learning outcomes and operational efficiency. (ChatGPT)

These are just a handful of the millions of ways in which generative AI can be useful to you in your university position. I recommend that you focus on AI assistance in one aspect of your work at a time. Think of generative AI as your new research or teaching assistant. This is the brightest and fastest assistant you have ever had. It never sleeps. It doesn’t go on spring break. It has near perfect scores on the SAT and the GRE, and now, it even has passed a bar exam. So, don’t hold back; Google Bard, ChatGPT and other generative AI bots are fully capable of finding information and organizing and reporting results in a credible way, whether that be text, image, spreadsheet or database.

Select something meaningful that generative AI can add to your repertoire for the fall. You will have a bright, shiny, relevant, useful example to share as evidence of your understanding of the potential of this application to enhance and advance a selected part of your job. It will put you on the path to becoming a more productive, efficient and effective leader.

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