Believe Your Assignment Can't be Completed with AI?

Put your money where your mouth is!

[image created with Dall-E 3 via ChatGPT Plus]

Welcome to AutomatED: the newsletter on how to teach better with tech.

Each week, I share what I have learned — and am learning — about AI and tech in the university classroom. What works, what doesn't, and why.

In this week’s piece, I announce the “AI Assignment Challenge” (with prizes), and I share the link to our AI and higher ed primer email series (in case you’re not already enrolled).

A big week!

🏆 The Return of the AI Assignment Challenge

It’s back!

In honor of the one-year anniversary of our (in)famous “AI-Immunity Challenge” and our 3000th subscriber, I hereby announce a new contest.

Professors: submit your best AI-immune take-home writing assignments for us to try to complete in less than an hour, using the latest generative AI tools! Let’s see what you’ve got!

In recent months, I have been attending conferences and discussing AI with hundreds of professors, and I am finding many professors are still skeptical about the ability of AI to complete their assignments. With AI tools gaining power every month, we need to put their — your? — confidence to the test once again!

But why? In short, we professors need to have a good grip on what AI tools can do, or else our pedagogical methods will be problematically insensitive to the opportunities and challenges they present. (See our Guide for how to plan and develop assignments and assessments in the age of AI for more on this dynamic.)

Here are the rules…

Prizes and Rewards

  1. For Submitters: Any professor who simply submits an eligible assignment and rubric will get one free month of ✨Premium.

  2. If AutomatED Loses: If we get a C or worse on a professor’s assignment — by the terms of their own rubric, as judged by an independent judge expert in their field — then the professor will get one free year of ✨Premium and I will post on my LinkedIN an admission of AutomatED’s “loss.”

  3. If AutomatED Wins: If we get an A or a B on a professor’s assignment, then the professor will post on one of their professional social networking accounts an admission of AutomatED’s “win.” (Alternative options are available if this isn’t an option.)

  4. For Professors Who Volunteer to Judge: Any professor who volunteers to judge submissions in their field of expertise enters a raffle for one free year of ✨Premium.

  5. For Professors Who Judge: If such a professor is called to judge a given submission and offers their judgment on it (in alignment with the rubric), then they get three free months of ✨Premium.

Constraints on Submissions

  1. Each assignment must be standalone — not part of a pair or series.

  2. The submissions for the assignment must be capable of being typewritten in their entirety (e.g., no oral exams, hand-written essays, dramatic performances, etc).

  3. The professor must provide in advance the rubric by which the submissions will be graded by an independent judge, expert in the relevant field. Grades should be labeled A, B, C, D, F, with clear criteria for each.

Constraints on AutomatED

  1. Every sentence that we submit must be AI-generated — no edits allowed, except for formatting if needed.

  2. We must use only publicly available AI tools.

  3. We cannot spend more than 1 hour on each assignment.

  4. Each of our efforts must be documented and described in a future piece. The takeaways will be provided in a free weekly piece, while a deep dive will be found in a ✨Premium one.

Constraints on Judges

  1. You must provide a grade and a rationale relative to the originally submitted rubric.

  2. You must note strengths and weaknesses of the submission.

Click the following button to email us with an assignment submission or to volunteer to judge:

Here are the three editions of the prior contest, in case you subscribed after we posted them:

📢 Quick Hits:
News Tidbits for Higher Educators

In the midst of a graduate students’ strike at Boston University, an email from Stan Sclaroff, the dean of arts and sciences, has sparked a debate about his intentions and labor issues in academia. Sclaroff suggested leveraging AI tools to manage course discussions and student feedback during the absence of striking teaching assistants.
  • Why it matters: Boston University's clarification that it does not intend to replace graduate student teaching assistants with AI tools did little to quell the underlying tensions or the broader implications for higher ed. The backlash from the strikers and criticism on social media underscore the need for dialogue about how AI tools are introduced and utilized in educational settings, ensuring they complement rather than undermine the contributions of teaching staff. At the very least, this is terrible timing.

ChatGPT is now accessible without an account. OpenAI has announced a significant update allowing individuals to use ChatGPT instantly, without the need for creating an account.
  • Why it matters: While this initiative helps democratize AI technology, it introduces critical considerations for the educational sector. Easing access to powerful AI tools like ChatGPT can greatly facilitate learning, creativity, and inquiry across disciplines and age groups. However, the broader availability of ChatGPT requires a stronger emphasis on digital citizenship and responsible AI use within educational settings, challenging educators to balance open access with safeguarding students from potential misinformation, privacy issues, and uncritical acceptance of AI-generated content. OpenAI's commitment to implementing content safeguards for account-less users and allowing these users to still opt-out of data contribution — a feature of accounts already — is a step in the right direction.

American University’s Kogod School of Business is all-in on AI. It is pioneering a significant integration of AI and machine learning (ML) into its curriculum and daily operations. Announced for the fall 2024 semester, this initiative will include over 20 new and revamped courses designed to arm Kogod students with cutting-edge AI and machine learning expertise.
  • Why it matters: This bold move sets a new standard for business education, ensuring students not only acquire practical skills in prompt engineering, R, Python, and AI/ML Models but also grapple with the ethical implications and risks associated with AI technology. The initiative reflects a deep commitment to preparing students for a business landscape increasingly dominated by digital transformation and AI-driven innovation. Nonetheless, such extensive embedding of AI into academic curricula raises critical questions about the readiness of faculty and the broader educational infrastructure to support this technological pivot. Ensuring that educators are as adept in these technologies as their students will be crucial to the success of such programs. Furthermore, the focus on AI/ML could potentially overshadow the need for a holistic business education that balances technical skills with critical thinking, leadership, and human-centric principles of business ethics and sustainability. The Kogod School of Business's approach, emphasizing both "AI Sage" and "AI Artisan" courses, may serve as a model for balancing these priorities.

🧰 Enroll in Our AI and Higher Ed
Primer Email Series

If you made it this far in the email, we have another surprise for you:

We just finished developing our new “AutomatED Insights Series”!

It consists of 7 additional emails for new subscribers that convey who we are and some crucial information that we have learned and written about in the past year. Like AutomatED, it is designed for professors and learning professionals who want actionable but thoughtful ideas for navigating the new technology and AI environment — and it will get you up to speed with AutomatED, too.

These emails will come in a sequence, with delays, on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.

Every new subscriber to AutomatED is now enrolled in it by default, but you may have signed up before we released it… Sorry about that!

Still, you can enroll yourself manually by clicking “Yes” below. You can always unenroll starting in the second installment without unenrolling from AutomatED’s weekly newsletters.

Would you like to be enrolled in the AutomatED Insights Series?

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