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Artificial intelligence and the education revolution: SCU Buzz

Ruth Greenaway in blue shirt with River Mueller with microphone


13 May 2024

Artificial intelligence has transformed learning and the delivery of higher education. While many have feared and critiqued the incorporation of generative AI into teaching and assessment, Ruth Greenaway says we need to lean in. As the Director for the Centre of Teaching and Learning at Southern Cross University, she oversees the use of AI in the classroom.

Speaking on the SCU Buzz podcast, Ruth said generative AI (GenAI) is an exciting addition to education.

“Southern Cross University is embracing GenAI and encouraging staff and students to use it ethically and responsibly,” Ruth said.

“I think, in the beginning, people were scared because they didn’t understand it and were worried about job losses but we need the human factor and it certainly has the opportunity to make us more efficient with mundane tasks.”

From summarising data to analysing workflows and writing reports and emails, GenAI is being incorporated into workplaces across the globe. For students, Ruth believes it can also be used as an educational tool.

“It can be a personal tutor; so, you can be asking questions as you navigate your studies. It’s fantastic for students who speak English as a second language. It can also be used as a prompt to start sentences,” Ruth said.

“However, we do have to ensure that students are learning and meeting the learning outcomes of their course. At the moment, we’re reviewing all of our assessment tasks and looking at how GenAI can be used to enhance and support student learning.

“We are also analysing how GenAI is being used across industries so that students are prepared when they enter the workforce.”

Students are being warned against having blind faith in artificial intelligence software with concerns being raised about the accuracy and validity of the information it generates.

“Critical thinking skills are essential when using GenAI,” Ruth said. “It makes stuff up and it’s not always right. Our students need to know the importance of human oversight when using GenAI applications, particularly for assessment.

“Assessments need to be unique, contextual and process-based. Students can use GenAI to write an assessment but we need to ask them what prompts they used to get the information they required and how did they assess that information to determine if it’s correct.”

Rather than asking students to memorise and regurgitate information in essays and exams, Ruth said the implementation of artificial intelligence encourages students to engage with course content more deeply.

“I think it is an education revolution, because we are moving away from rote learning and getting students to think critically and understand why they are coming up with the answers that they are. So, students have a deeper sense of learning.”