May 21, 2024

Empowering teaching and learning experiences through GenAI

Lorelei Anselmo, a Learning and Instructional Design Specialist at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, shares her experience with Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) in post-secondary.
A white woman with dark brown hair stands over a table outside shucking mussels.
Shucking mussels on PEI. Lorelei Anselmo was recently on the island presenting on AI at the 2023 STHLE conference.

As a Learning and Instructional Design (LID) Specialist and sessional instructor with UCalgary Continuing Education, I've observed and experienced the transformative influence Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) has had on teaching and learning. In my LID role, I use GenAI tools to assist in workshop planning, conference proposal writing, and project briefs reporting. In teaching, these tools support outlining D2L modules and brainstorming discussion board activities.

GenAI not only automates tasks like creating detailed rubrics but, I believe, has the potential to become a fundamental part of our educational ecosystem by fostering essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and digital literacy.

I’ve noticed GenAI respond to the dual demand of providing students with real-world experiences to build these crucial skills, and assisting faculty and staff who seek innovative methods to enhance student learning. 

To better understand how GenAI tools are being applied in our classrooms to develop these skills, I engaged with members of the UCalgary community to explore their experiences with GenAI in their teaching and learning practices.

Interview practice

Dr. Barbara Brown, PhD and Dr. Soroush Sabbaghan, PhD at Werklund School of Education have leveraged a GenAI-powered platform, Persona Emulating Adaptive Research and Learning (PEARL) Bot (developed by Sabbaghan) to enable students to practice their interviewing skills related to their research topic through guided AI-generated text-based conversations.

Simulation scenarios

GenAI applications in virtual labs and simulations allow students to apply knowledge in practical settings, bridging the gap between theoretical learning and real-world practice. OSCE-GPT, developed by Eddie Guo, a third-year medical student at the Cumming School of Medicine, is an app designed for healthcare trainees to practice their patient communication and medical decision-making skills in interactive simulated cases with tailored feedback.

Guo collaborated with Dominique Denis Lalonde, a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Nursing, to tailor nursing-specific case studies with the app. These simulations assist nursing students in enhancing their communication and inquiry skills, preparing them for practical scenarios in a risk-free environment.

Increasing accessibility

GenAI tools have noticeably increased accessibility in education. They allow instructors, students, and staff to interact with content in innovative ways including the use of screen readers, image recognition, and enhanced writing tools.  Brenda McDermott, Senior Manager, Student Accessibility Services, notes that GenAI can simplify complex assignments into manageable steps, helping students regulate their learning process.

The role of GenAI

While I remain cautiously optimistic about GenAI’s future role in teaching and learning, it is imperative to continue exploring these tools with strong ethical considerations in mind. This includes commitments to transparency, decolonization, and promoting inclusivity and fairness. By responsibly integrating GenAI into our learning spaces, we can enrich our teaching and learning practices, ensuring our students have the skills necessary for future careers.