Generative Artificial Intelligence Tools

Emerging artificial intelligence tools are presenting opportunities and challenges in higher education (and beyond) over their increasing ability to produce new "original" works of text, art, code and more. This article aims to help faculty and students understand what these tools are and how we can responsibly approach their use from a teaching and learning context. 


Advances in artificial intelligence raise new ethics concerns, PBS News Hour 

This short 8 minute news report from January 10, 2023 does a good job unpacking the newest developments in artificial intelligence tools and how they are changing the way we live and work. As you watch, think about how these advancements are presenting both opportunities and challenges for the way we teach and learn.



What are Generative Artificial Intelligence tools and more specifically ChatGPT?

There are new generative AI tools that we know students everywhere are starting to use around their education. This section aims to provide some guidance, support, and an opportunity to participate in thinking about how to navigate these tools.

Recently, a new set of tools have become more widely available that utilize artificial intelligence to generate entire written and visual works from a prompt.  Most known among them is the tool, ChatGPT which allows users to put in a prompt and generate original text from the program. These tools can make it quite easy for people to enter in a prompt (a question, a string of words, a description) and for the tool to generate a largely clear and coherent work (essay, short story, poem, annotated bibliography, code, image, etc).  Read Avanti Khare, Union College student and Sci-Tech Editor for the Concordiensis, explain more in her January 12, 2023 article, Behind the viral AI writer ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT? ChatGPT is a conversational AI language model developed by OpenAI. It is based on the GPT-3 architecture and is trained on a large dataset of text to generate human-like responses to various types of questions and prompts. The model can be used to power chatbots, answer questions, generate text, and more.


What do Generative AI Tools mean for teaching and learning?

There are many possibilities in how to use these tools related to education and work. We prompted ChatGPT to see how well it could explain how ChatGPT is affecting teaching and learning:

How is chatGPT affecting teaching and learning?  ChatGPT is affecting teaching and learning in a number of ways:  Personalized learning: ChatGPT can be used to create personalized learning experiences for students, by providing answers to questions, generating interactive lessons, or helping with homework assignments.  Improving efficiency: ChatGPT can automate many tasks that are typically performed by teachers, freeing up more time for them to focus on other important aspects of teaching.  Enhanced accessibility: ChatGPT can be used to provide educational resources and support to students in remote or underserved areas, increasing access to quality education.  Supplementing traditional teaching methods: ChatGPT can be used as a supplement to traditional teaching methods, providing students with additional resources and opportunities to interact with the material.  Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to significantly enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning, and to provide new opportunities for students to engage with educational content.


However, it is not surprising that these tools may inadvertently disrupt the ability to demonstrate learning effectively and are raising concerns with educators. Again, we turned to ChatGPT to see how well it could articulate what is troubling teachers:

Explain why chatgpt has teachers concerned: ChatGPT, being an AI language model, has the ability to generate human-like text which could make it easier for someone to impersonate or deceive others. This raises concerns among teachers, who are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of their students, as well as the authenticity and accuracy of information shared in the classroom. Additionally, chatbots like ChatGPT can provide instant answers to questions, potentially reducing the need for critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are important abilities that teachers aim to foster in their students.


Privacy Considerations, Specifically with ChatGPT

When faculty are designing learning activities for courses, keep in mind the perspective that ITS will not be engaging in a contract with OpenAI to "License" ChatGPT for the College. Currently, OpenAI is not extending that option to colleges and universities. ITS normally covers things like protecting FERPA data as part of the process of entering into contracts with vendors. Therefore, the various terms and policies on OpenAI's website will apply to faculty AND students on an individual basis. Therefore, if faculty want to require students create a ChatGPT account (or another similar platform), I encourage you to not only inform students of the limitations of such platforms (i.e., they can provide inaccurate or biased information, fabricated quotes, etc.) but also potential data privacy concerns. Everyone who chooses to create an account should review the terms and privacy policy to fully understand the provisions permitting the sharing of information. It is important to note that there is no recognition of potential FERPA data being entered into the system, so, therefore, there are no precautions being taken to keep that data confidential nor identifying data in that fashion.

ChatGPT has noted the following privacy concerns that students need to be aware of (along with faculty):

  • Data Collection: ChatGPT collects and stores information about the user's interactions, which could include sensitive information such as personal details or confidential academic information.  ChatGPT ignores "Do Not Track" settings.
  • Data usage: ChatGP may use the data collected for research, analysis or commercial purposes.
  • Data security: There is always a risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to the information stored by ChatGPT.
  • Data retention: ChatGPT may retain data for an indefinite period of time, which could lead to privacy issues in the future.

If you haven't created a ChatGPT account yet, individuals are required to enter a phone number to use for verification (can receive SMS) which some people may not be comfortable providing.


If faculty decide they'd like students to use ChatGPT (or a similar, "free" generative AI tool), faculty should intentionally design an alternative way of completing the assignment that removes any requirement that students must create a personal account as a part of their grade. Students should be informed of the privacy considerations mentioned above and given the agency to decide whether or not they feel comfortable creating the account or not. 


Example Statements for Syllabus

To that end, you may want to revisit your syllabus to include some mention of your own course’s considerations around the use of this tool. Here are some potential example statements you may adjust in service of what is best for your students and desired learning goals for your class. If you do add a ChatGPT (or artificial intelligence generative tool) policy to your syllabus and don't mind sharing it with others, please share it with and we will add it to the list below.


Pedagogical ​Advice

Below you will find some ideas of how you can think about these tools, as well as concrete ideas for assessments from your colleagues at Union College (click on the double arrow to expand the section). If you have ideas you are willing to share with others, please send them to and we will add it to this section.

Marianna Ganapini, Assistant Professor in Philosophy

Marianna Ganapini

Is ChatGPT for everyone? Seeing beyond the hype toward responsible use in education

Montreal AI Ethics Institute article by Marianna Ganapini, Pamela Lirio, and Andrea Pedeferri.
Jan. 3, 2023

ChatGPT is the latest Open AI chatbot, able to interact with human agents conversationally. You can ask questions, many of which will be answered in seconds. Syntactically this chatbot writes like a pro: its sentences are usually well-structured and grammatically correct. The tone of its writing sounds – for the most part – professional, courteous, and well-polished. Often, the answers generated sound legitimate: it feels like ChatGPT knows what it’s talking about!  

But is this AI ethical? Can it be used responsibly? What harm might it generate? CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO READ FULL ARTICLE

Mark Dallas, Associate Professor of Political Science
Joe Johnson, Director of Writing Programs
Denise Snyder, Director of Learning Design and Digital Innovation

Denise Snyder

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” 

John Dewey

The rise of generative AI tools is an opportunity for faculty to take a step back and examine the instructional design of their courses, and more specifically, their assessments. I encourage faculty to ask themselves, am I structuring assessments OF understanding or am I structuring assessments FOR understanding? It is a slight, yet powerful tweak in perspective that can yield the construction of learning activities that AI generation tools find difficult, if not impossible, to complete (at least on their own). What I am really talking about is going back to the basics of what good instructional design looks like. Well designed assessments can promote learning, as well as measure it.

What does that mean? Well, assessment isn't always simply evaluating the learning that has already happened, it can also help learning happen—this is what is meant by “assessment FOR learning.” Part of good instructional design is knowing how to design both assessments FOR learning and OF learning.

This is where faculty can get creative and go beyond the traditional research paper and/or exam and create multiple, engaging, formative opportunities for students to actively make their thinking visible, while also including space for students to reflect, revisit, and revise their thinking. Requiring metacognitive reflection not only helps defeat the use of generative AI tools, more importantly, it makes learning "stick". Attending to metacognitive thinking in your assessments can improve transfer of understandings to authentic, real world scenarios well beyond the walls of the classroom.

The Learning Design and Digital Innovation is here to help faculty rethink assessments at their convenience. We also encourage faculty to apply to our summer FDI course incubator, where faculty will receive support from colleagues, instructional designers, librarians, learning technologists, and more to help (re)design and develop courses.

If you are interested in reading pedagogical advice ChatGPT came up with, take a look:

Explain how teachers can create assignments that ChatGPT can't easily answer: Teachers can create assignments that ChatGPT can't easily answer by incorporating elements that are:  Context-specific: Assignments that require knowledge of a specific situation, event or context are more difficult for AI models like ChatGPT to answer, as they need a broader context and understanding of the world to provide a relevant response.  Creative: Assignments that require creative problem-solving or imaginative thinking are challenging for AI models, as they are less able to generate original ideas.  Open-ended: Assignments that allow for multiple interpretations or have open-ended questions are harder for AI models to answer, as they require human-level creativity and flexibility in their responses.  Hands-on or experiential learning: Assignments that require students to physically perform a task, participate in a lab experiment, or engage in real-world experiences can be difficult for AI models to replicate, as they require a level of physical and sensory knowledge and skills.  By incorporating these elements, teachers can create assignments that challenge AI models and encourage more meaningful learning experiences for students.


Curated Resources

We will continue to compile a list of articles and resources to share with the Union College community about this topic on this Google Document. If you come across items you'd like to add, please send them to

If you are having difficulty or you have unanswered questions, please contact the Help Desk through the ITS Service Catalog or call (518) 388-6400.

With appreciation, some of the content in this article was generated from ideas shared by College Unbound under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  






Article ID: 153378
Thu 1/26/23 2:05 PM
Fri 2/3/23 11:46 AM