The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Incorporating AI into an Introductory College Writing Course

Susan Oaks, Empire State University, State University of New York (United States)


This paper will cover issues and experiences with using AI, specifically ChatGPT, in an introductory, online college writing course.  To set context, Empire State University, part of the State University of New York, was designed in the 1970s as a higher-education option for working adults.  Even though we now have a range of students from their 20s through their 60s, most of our students still work and attend school simultaneously. ESU has the largest online program in the New York State University system. Many students who decide to pursue degrees online are comfortable with technology, and often are moderate- to high-end users.  Also, students in introductory college writing courses are most often there to fulfill a requirement, as opposed to really wanting to develop their writing skills. Given students’ awareness of AI, lack of interest in the subject, and their need to maximize their study time, it was likely that some would use AI to aid if not totally create written assignments.  The task, then, became one of thinking creatively to figure out how to incorporate AI in a useful, ethical, and interesting way into basic college-level writing instruction. We confronted many course design issues.  One was when and how to introduce AI, as well as how much to focus on AI in the course.  Another was how to allow students to use AI and what parameters to set.  A third issue dealt with how to design a course fairly so that students who did not want to enter the world of AI would not have to, in accordance with their desire for digital privacy. And a fourth was how to incorporate AI into an open educational resource text that other instructors use, instructors who did not incorporate AI into their courses and might be skeptical or dismissive of the idea.  Experiences to date, based on a small sample in the Fall, 2023 semester, were both positive for AI users and interesting from a teaching perspective, with at least one unexpected result.

Keywords: E-Learning, Adult Education



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