“Embracing AI,” University Of Tennessee At Knoxville Plans for AI Integration And Releases Guidelines

Image Credit: UTK / Facebook & Gerd Altmann / Public Domain

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) has decided to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into their educational system, under the guise of simply “enhancing” the learning experience. 

In the age of ChatGPT, AI financial advisors, and even AI generated rap music artists, artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming more and more integrated into the daily lives of U.S. Citizens, and the realm of academia is no exception. 

A case of AI-related plagiarism was reported at UTK during this year’s spring semester, prompting the school to issue AI guidelines for faculty reference.

Guidelines have already been established for the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year, offering professors three different options or levels for using AI in the classroom.

The first of these, open use, allows students to use AI for any class assignment, so long as the AI is given proper credit. The second level, moderate use, allows students to use AI for specific class assignments as long as the AI is credited. The third option, strict use, allows professors to strictly ban their students from using AI for coursework, considering it a form of academic dishonesty.

Apparently, allowing AI like ChatGPT to crank out a paper on a subject that you as a student may or may not even remotely understand and turning that in, is just as good as writing the paper yourself and does not qualify as academic dishonesty.

At least, just so long as any given professor says that it’s okay.

These guidelines are not the only evidence of UTK’s support for AI integration.

UTK has also allocated $1 million “to encourage innovative ideas in AI across various disciplines.” Additionally, they have hired faculty members who specialize in the field and plan to roll out several new AI-related courses.

Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of the AI Tennessee Initiative, Lynne Parker, has been leading the charge.

This includes an AI 101 course with a focus on AI literacy instead of AI programming, to be piloted in the fall. Other courses will be offered at the 400 and 500 coursework levels for seniors and graduate students, to promote interdisciplinary knowledge of AI.

This occurs in tandem with an AI Education Project partnership between the nonprofit organization and UTK, meant to train junior high and high school level teachers on how to promote AI literacy in the K-12 student population.

According to Fagen Wasanni Journalist Deborah Taylor, UTK believes that “AI will transform the student experience” in two major ways. 

“Firstly, instructors will be able to design assignments differently,” writes Taylor. “Secondly, AI will be used to personalize education, adapting to students’ individual needs and providing tailored feedback and assignments based on their interactions.”

In the words of Fagen Wasanni Editor Chelsea Johnson, UTK is “embracing AI to revolutionize its educational landscape,” and Vice Chancellor Parker “envisions a more matured personalized approach to education” thanks to AI.

The question here probably isn’t whether or not the U.S. higher education system needs to be revolutionized. Instead, the question at hand seems to be whether or not AI integration is the right way to revolutionize it. 

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at adelia@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

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