AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is the newest technology to impact the higher education system. With no experience or similar technology to AI, many universities are creating ways to prevent students from using it because of the negative effects. Although it is important to address the negative uses of AI, Millersville University understands it is also important to address the positive uses. This is why the University recently developed a task force to discuss the use of AI.
Josh Hartranft, interim chief technology officer and co-chair of the task force, explains the purpose of the new AI Task Force. “The objective of the task force is to gather and catalog the existing AI usage on campus and subsequently identify potential avenues for leveraging AI to enhance services and processes.”
Dr. Marc Tomljanovich, dean of the Lombardo College of Business and co-chair of the task force, explains that this task force is important because AI affects every department. “AI impacts every part of a university from HR to advancement to student life to the library to athletics to student accounts to finance and more. This task force addresses how we can use AI to benefit each part of MU.”
To ensure the task force is well-equipped, it comprises faculty and staff from various parts of the university, including IT, University Communications, financial aid, the library and other departments. The faculty and staff that make up the task force include Hartranft and Tomljanovich as co-chairs, and Dr. Chad Hogg, Dr. Oliver Dreon, Greg Szcyrbak, Diane Copenhaver, Emiyaril Alverez, John Hearn, Kelsey Madas, Miles Gallagher and Andy Welaish.
Tomljanovich explains that the task force “covers all the bases and parts of the University.”
As this task force’s purpose is to learn how to use AI positively in higher education, Hartranft explains how he believes AI can be used for good. “When applied ethically and responsibly, AI can revolutionize various sectors, from healthcare and education to environmental conservation and public safety. It can enhance efficiency, provide solutions to complex problems and improve the quality of life for many,” he says.
To successfully create a task force that addresses the positives of AI, you also have to address the negatives. Hartranft explains some of the risks of AI in higher education include:
- Bias and Discrimination: AI systems, especially those used for admissions or grading, can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in their training data. This can lead to unfair treatment of certain student groups based on race, gender or socioeconomic status.
- Privacy Concerns: The use of AI-driven surveillance or monitoring tools can infringe on students’ privacy rights, leading to potential misuse of personal data.
- Depersonalization of Education: Over-reliance on AI can reduce human interaction, making education more transactional and less personal. This can impact the holistic development of students.
- Quality of Education: If not properly implemented, AI-driven tools might not always align with educational best practices, potentially compromising the quality of instruction.
- Job Displacement: The automation of certain administrative tasks using AI might lead to job losses.
- Security Risks: AI systems can be vulnerable to hacking or malicious attacks, risking the integrity of educational data.
- Ethical Concerns: The use of AI to monitor or predict student behavior can raise ethical questions about autonomy, consent and the role of technology in decision-making.
- Accessibility and Equity Concerns: There’s a risk that AI tools might not be equally accessible to all students, exacerbating existing educational inequalities.
- Over-reliance: There’s a danger that institutions might become too dependent on AI solutions, overlooking the importance of human judgment and expertise.
AI is currently being used throughout the University in ways many overlook. “The library uses AI in its chat bot, and the Lombardo College of Business uses it to create a transcript from meetings. Chat GPT, an AI website, shortened an indecipherable 102-page meeting notes document into a readable and shortened document,” Tomljanovich notes.
Tomljanovich explains that although many negatives come with AI, he hopes people notice the positives that also come with it, like improving work-life balance and creating more time for meaningful tasks.