ChatGPT and Emerging Technologies- How IDEAS Innovation Fellows are Embracing Change in Their Teaching

a small robot looking up at the camera

This Spring, the  Instructional Innovation Fellowship (IIF) meetings resumed with exciting discussions on how to embrace technology, including A.I. tools and social media, to give students agency in their learning, and promote critical thinking skills and professional readiness.

In our fourth meeting since the fellowship launched in the Fall 2022 semester, Elizabeth Mikesch showcased her experiences using a cutting-edge AI-based generative tool, ChatGPT, in her class. Jennie Donohue shared her enthusiasm for Twitter Live Chat, highlighting its effectiveness in promoting active learning and industry connections in her class. Maddie Hertz concluded the session with a demonstration of an interactive and freely accessible collaborative tool Miro for Education.

  • ChatGPT helps overcome writing blocks and generate new ideas
  • Live Twitter Chat connects students to industry professionals
  • Miro for Education introduces a whole new level of online collaboration

Befriend ChatGPT – The Use of ChatGPT for Improving Engineering Students’ Writing

Important Note: UMass Faculty Senate has determined that the use of ChatGPT and other AI platforms represent plagiarism and cheating, and as such are not permitted unless explicitly allowed by an instructor as part of an assignment or activity.

The advent of ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool developed by OpenAI, has sparked widespread debate among educators. While some see it as a threat to the teaching profession and a potential tool for academic misconduct, others recognise its potential to enhance students’ learning experiences. Elizabeth Mikesch, an engineering writing instructor, decided to explore the potential of ChatGPT for improving her students’ writing skills.

Elizabeth incorporated ChatGPT into a low-stakes, early-semester writing assignment this spring, where students used the AI tool to generate first drafts of a cover letter and resume. To promote student agency, Elizabeth also encouraged students to form and share their own opinions about the tool, its usefulness and ethical considerations.

The results showed that while students had differing opinions about ChatGPT, they appreciated its ability to help overcome writing blocks and generate new ideas. Elizabeth recommended that students be informed early on about the tool and its usage and to sign up for it in advance to avoid capacity issues. Overall, ChatGPT presents a unique opportunity for educators to incorporate technology into their teaching, enhance students’ writing skills, have open conversations about academic honesty, and let students harness the tool in meaningful ways.

Live Tweeting – Engaging Students with Live Twitter Chat

Twitter logo
Twitter can be used for a live chat option

Jennie Donohue presented a unique and innovative approach to classroom discussions. She shared her experiences using Live Twitter Chat in her public communication and marketing course, and how it has positively impacted student engagement and learning outcomes. Live Twitter Chat is a feature of Twitter where everyone can hold an interactive chat session and invite others to participate in the discussion.

By incorporating Live Twitter Chat, Jennie was able to create a fun and interactive learning environment where students could engage in peer-to-peer discussions and gain valuable industry-relevant skills. Twitter is often used in professional public relations (PR) settings (the industry Jennie’s students are preparing for); many companies use Live Twitter chat for community management and content creation. She also highlighted the benefits of using the tool as a professional networking opportunity for students.

To effectively utilize the tool in the classroom, Jennie recommended identifying a suitable hashtag, discussion topic, and questions beforehand. She suggested assigning students to search and read relevant materials, and create multimedia content (e.g., poster, infographic) to host and participate in the chat. For example, she encouraged her students to create posters or infographics to introduce themselves to the rest of the class. To encourage active participation, Jennie recommended offering students extra credit or “bonus opportunities” and inviting guest speakers, such as alumni and industry experts, to join the conversation. It is also good to encourage students to participate in real-world industry chats to learn further about the use and benefits of the chat.

Interactive Participation – Collaborating Online with Miro

A Miro board in action

Maddi Hertz closed the session by showcasing the potential of Miro as an interactive and intuitive collaborative tool for online or flex learning. Miro for Education is a free online tool that provides a range of features for education, including a digital whiteboard, sticky notes, and the ability to embed multimedia content, such as videos and emojis. Moreover, Miro can also be used for simple ‘temperature checks’ (e.g., such as asking what students learned today, what they are still struggling with) all the way through to advanced topics (e.g., analyzing a literature review). The tool includes many pre-existing templates to get new users started.

Maddi demonstrated how she uses Miro in her classroom for check-ins and real-time feedback, allowing for an interactive experience for her students. The tool displays the students’ names on the screen, making it easier for her to keep track of who is participating. It also allows for anonymous participation as well for times when instructors need open and honest feedback.

Maddi recommended setting up access to Miro, choosing a template, creating an activity, and sharing the link with students to join. To ensure their names are displayed, students must sign in. Miro can accommodate an unlimited number of participants and can also be integrated with Zoom, but it is not recommended for use on mobile phone browsers. Students can download the app if they do not bring a laptop/ tablet. Overall, Maddi’s presentation provided valuable insights into how Miro can be used to enhance collaborative learning experiences.
It was such a great meeting with meaningful discussions on how the innovative teaching ideas of the presenters inspired everyone. If you would like to learn more about ChatGPT, the IDEAS team put together this quick FAQs for instructors. For more innovative teaching ideas and tools, be sure to check out our other blog posts.