Antione D. Tomlin

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC

Associate Professor and Director of Academic Literacies Tutoring Center

Anne Arundel Community College

Maisha L. Cannon

Founder and Chief Learner

The Collab Lab, Inc.

As an English faculty member, I distinctly remember when the eruption of AI resources became available and popularly explored by students. In higher ed, some of us faculty thought the world was coming to an end. From my personal experience, it felt like every department and school meeting centered around how to detect, “catch,” and stop students from using AI resources, as it was believed that these resources were used for things like completing the work for students, ultimately leading to or working a very thin line of plagiarism. 

After semesters of myself being agitated and annoyed by the conversations surrounding “why not” to use AI resources or “how to” catch students who are using AI resources, I got curious and wanted to learn more. In my exploration to learn more, I consulted with Maisha Cannon, AI enthusiast and Chief Learner at The Collab Lab, Inc. So, this piece shares my questions posed to her around faculty rethinking the usefulness of AI and her extremely valuable responses, which help to make me more knowledgeable and shift my thinking. When I asked Maisha, “Should faculty think twice about using AI?” she cheerfully responded, “Absolutely. Think twice, but lean into experimentation.” As a life and engagement coach, I then got curious about this idea of experimentation, and our conversation and collaboration around rethinking AI evolved. 

Rethinking AI in Higher Education

As I pondered this idea of experimentation, Maisha provided a framework that proved to be beneficial in helping me to think about my position and stance on using AI in the classroom. Maisha shared: 

The guiding principle is: Pause, Ponder, Proceed. This helps you strike a balance between curiosity and caution.

As you begin your AI journey, take three pivotal steps:

  1. Pause to recognize both the potential and pitfalls.
  2. Ponder the ethical implications and data privacy considerations.
  3. Proceed with a well-intentioned plan and a growth mindset.

Together, educators and learners can navigate the AI landscape with both excitement and responsibility. Artificial intelligence is not intended to replace the human element in education. While AI offers academic aid, the emotional support, mentorship, and classroom community-building remain firmly in human hands.  

A Deeper Dive into AI!

With Maisha’s “Pause, Ponder, Proceed” framework in mind, we explored three questions that helped me to continue learning and shaping my philosophy around AI resources and support. The questions I posed to Maisha are: 1. What is helpful for faculty to know about AI? What could make faculty reconsider using AI in the classroom? 2. If you were to create an AI starter pack for faculty to explore using AI, what would be in it? 3. What do you believe would be the benefits to faculty encouraging the use of AI in the classroom?

1. What is helpful for faculty to know about AI? What could make faculty reconsider using AI in the classroom?

If you’re cautious about AI, it’s crucial to thoughtfully integrate it into your existing workflows. Consider the ethical implications, data privacy concerns, and the potential for inherent biases. Always align with IT and legal departments for responsible implementation. 

So, you’ve paused to recognize the potential. Now, let’s ponder the next steps. 

For those curious about AI, the technology offers educators a powerful edge, often at little to no cost. Think of the latest round of generative AI tools as your “AI allies.” They’re designed to simplify, streamline, and enhance everyday tasks, transforming routine work into efficient processes. 

By managing these tasks, AI allows faculty to reclaim time, enabling them to focus on human-centric endeavors that only they can excel at, such as nurturing relationships with students and fostering collaborations with peers and colleagues.

2. If you were to create an AI starter pack for faculty to explore using AI, what would be in it?

I love this question! Now that you’ve paused to recognize the potential and pondered the implications, it’s time to proceed. Here’s your AI Starter Pack to help you take that step.

Daily Tools
Let’s start with a daily task: searching the web. Tools like You and Perplexity are great ways to ease into AI-powered search. As an alternative to Google/Bing, you can use these for your questions, queries, and curiosities.

For editing and audio transcription tasks, WordTune or Quillbot can elevate writing with real-time feedback and suggestions, ensuring clarity and precision in documents. For your video meetings, Fireflies can take notes, transcribe, summarize, search, and analyze voice conversations.

On the research front, Elicit and Scite can assist with literature reviews and finding academic papers. Hyperwrite works for grant writing support.

When you’re ready for a thought partner, you can brainstorm with your friendly local chatbot. Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Claude, Llama, and PaLM can all be found on a single free platform: Poe, where all the cool chatbots hang out! 

On Poe, you can converse with a variety of large language models to find the one that suits you best. You can even create your own chatbot!

Available on desktop or mobile, these augmented advisors can assist in brainstorming, lesson planning, instructional design, and enhancing the teaching process—all without inputting sensitive student data.

What’s more, you can even prompt these LLMs to “Act as [someone prominent in your field]” for specialized insights. Imagine asking, “Act as Andrew Ng. Advise a faculty member on the three things they should do to champion AI in their classroom.” The possibilities are expansive.

I use ChatGPT-4 on my iPhone daily to ideate, research, and more. It’s like having a personal think tank that fits in your pocket.

Advanced Tools
Ready to bring your words to life visually? Try text-to-image generators like DALL·E 3 in Bing or SDXL 1.0. Both are perfect for generating free, quality images for social media, course materials, or event promotion. 

Now, for the wow factor! When you’re ready to impress your colleagues, try Scribe and Guidde for quick tutorials; Holler for real-time feedback during a lecture; Loom with AI for auto-titling, summaries, and task lists; and L&D’s own 7Taps for micro-lessons on the go!

These AI tools not only elevate your teaching methods but also create a dynamic learning environment, freeing you up to focus on meaningful student interactions.

I’ve put all these tools together for you in a Faculty AI Starter Pack. You can find it here:

3. What do you believe would be the benefits to faculty encouraging the use of AI in the classroom?

Before faculty can champion the benefits of AI to their students, they need firsthand experience with the technology. Engaging with AI tools enables educators to explore their potential, discovering firsthand the creativity and efficiency these solutions offer. Only with this personal experience can they authentically share both the wins and occasional woes of AI with their students. 

Once they’re ready, here are a few benefits to encouraging the use of AI in the classroom:

  • Demystifying Technology: Proactive use and endorsement of AI by faculty can help demystify the technology, creating a classroom culture that embraces tech.
  • Innovative Curriculum Development: Artificial intelligence expands the horizon for diverse assignment types and introduces varied methods of expression. By incorporating AI, faculty can design enriched and diverse learning experiences.
  • Personal Tutoring with AI: Tools like GPT can serve as invaluable personal tutors, offering tailored support to students without delay. 
  • The Human-AI Collaborative Loop: This unique approach to brainstorming and decision-making pairs human intuition with AI’s data-driven insights. Pairing human intuition and creativity with AI’s vast data-driven insights creates a synergy where ideas are refined, expanded, and optimized in real time.

Whether you’re AI-curious or AI-cautious, the key is to pause, ponder, and proceed. This balanced approach will help educators and students alike navigate the complex landscape of AI in education.

As with any technology, AI use comes with its challenges. Data privacy, ethical use, and the fight against inherent biases are paramount. It’s vital for educators and institutions to address these challenges head-on to ensure a fair and inclusive environment that sets students up for success in today’s competitive workforce. 

As a final thought, to paraphrase Richard Baldwin, Professor of International Economics, “AI won’t likely replace you, but someone using AI will.”

Final Thoughts

It is our hope that something from this post resonates with readers and opens windows of opportunity to become more curious and engage in more conversation around AI resources and support. Additionally, we are curious to know what others feel about AI in the classroom and how it may be used.

Have anything to add? Feel free to reach out on X (Twitter): @Tomlinantione or @talentgenie. 

Acknowledgements from Maisha
A heartfelt thanks to Dr. Tomlin for the thought-provoking questions and ChatGPTisha, my AI ally in this human-AI collaborative loop.

Authors Bios:

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC is a tenure-track Associate Professor and Director of Academic Literacies Tutoring Center at Anne Arundel Community College. Dr. Tomlin is also an ICF Certified Life Coach.

Maisha L. Cannon is the Founder and Chief Learner at The Collab Lab, Inc., where she specializes in transformative L&D programs for recruiting teams. Maisha holds a certification in Virtual Training & Facilitation from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Social Links: LinkedIn/X (Twitter)

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.