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December 2023


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Register for UNIV*6800 – University Teaching: Theory and Practice 

Registration is open for UNIV*6800 University Teaching Theory and Practice for the Winter 2024 semester via WebAdvisor. UNIV*6800 is a graduate-level course that focuses on the relationship between pedagogical theory and instructional practice. The course is open to graduate students, postdoctoral students, staff, sessionals, and faculty. The course will meet online on Tuesdays from 8:30 – 11:20am.  


OTL Staffing Announcements 

Image of Martin Williams

Dr. Martin Williams: With gratitude, we announce that Martin, who joined the Educational Development team in 2019 as the inaugural Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, will be completing his term December 31st , 2023. As Director, Martin was instrumental in establishing the priorities and strategic direction for our newly formed Office. He has been a constant advocate for our team, bringing awareness of our impact on teaching and learning efforts to all corners of campus, and advancing the goals of the University’s teaching and learning plan. Over the past four years Martin has laid the groundwork for several strategic initiatives in OTL, the successes and impact of which will continue to be realized in the years ahead. We wish Martin all the best as he returns to his role as professor in the Department of Physics. The process for establishing the new Director of OTL will be communicated by the Associate Vice-President (Academic) in the coming months. 

Image of Sara Fulmer

Dr. Sara Fulmer: Sara is OTL’s new Associate Director. Sara has been an Educational Developer in OTL since 2017, during which time she has partnered with individuals across our campus on implementing evidence-based and promising teaching practices, designing and conducting SoTL projects, and advancing college-wide and institutional teaching and learning initiatives. Prior to joining UofG, she was an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at SUNY Oneonta and held educational development positions at the University of Louisville, Wellesley College, and the University of Notre Dame. Her research examines student motivation and learning, effective teaching, assessment of learning and motivation, and professional development of teachers and educational developers. Congratulations, Sara! 

Image of Jennifer Reniers

Dr. Jennifer Reniers: It is with mixed emotions we share that Jenn has accepted a 3-year secondment with the Office of Quality Assurance (OQA) as a Manager, Curriculum and Academic Quality Assurance, starting December 11th. Jenn has been a dedicated and valued member of our team since 2016, contributing to core initiatives in learning outcomes assessment, curriculum mapping, and co-leading the Inquire program. Jenn also launched key outreach activities in OTL, including the SoTL Snapshots, the OTL Book Club, and this Newsletter. She has worked extensively with OVC over the past few years in ongoing development of curricular and quality assurance processes. While we will miss her enthusiasm and leadership on our team, we’re fortunate to keep collaborating with Jenn in her new position at OQA supporting programs undergoing cyclical review. Congratulations, Jenn! 

OTL is hiring! We invite applications for an Educational Developer, Decolonization and Indigenization to join our team. Please share with your networks! The application deadline is December 13, 2023. Contact Sara Fulmer with questions. 


U of G Art History Professor Wins Ontario Teaching Award 

Dr. Christina Smylitopoulos, an art history professor in the School of Fine Art and Music in the College of Arts was recently named the Ontario Art Education Association’s Post-Secondary Art Educator of the Year for 2023. Her general teaching interests fall within the latter half of the early modern period, roughly from the mid-seventeenth century to the end of what is commonly referred to as the ‘long eighteenth century’ (the 1830s). She also supervises graduate students in the MA in Art History and Visual Culture and a range of undergraduate and graduate experiential learning opportunities. Dr Smylitopoulos also received the 2019 UGFA Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching and a 2014 College of Arts Teaching Excellence Award. Congratulations Dr. Smylitopoulos! 


Pedagogical Pulse: Insights from the TLN  

Image of a book with code emanating from it.

Source: created by Dall-E 3 in ChatGPT Plus (model 4.0)

Throughout the year, Teaching and Learning Network (TLN) members will contribute columns reflecting on their teaching practice. This month’s column is written by Dr. Matthew LaGrone, Program Head, Liberal Studies, University of Guelph-Humber, University Teaching Leadership Fellow in AI Literacy, and TLN member representing the University of Guelph-Humber. 
 

Use Cases of Generative AI in the Classroom: Examples from Fall 2023 

I find it useful to weigh up the direction and velocity of technological change through analogy, as a kind of compass for relative position. To that end, as we near conclusion of the Fall term, we can think of this moment as the “daguerreotype” phase of generative AI; that is to say, despite daily shipping of new generative AI models, there is a lot of road between now and the “advanced mirrorless, HDR digital photography” phase of the unmapped future. But there are many things that instructors can do right now with these tools, even in these early days.  

 The first major Fall 2023 report on higher ed use of generative AI emerged out of a pulse survey sponsored by Turnitin (Shaw et al., 2023). Their research found an approximately 2:1 ratio of student:instructor (49% vs 22%, respectively) self-reported use of generative AI tools, and that both student and instructor use of these tools has accelerated rapidly in the past six months (March – September). Understandably, much of the initial higher ed response regarding generative AI spotlighted plagiarism concerns (Chan, 2023), the susceptibility of LLMs to “hallucinate” information, as well as advocating for the development of explicit guidelines and policies (Michel-Villarreal et al., 2023). These are essential administrative and operational matters, but they are not practical guidance for how to use (or not use) generative AI.  

In what follows, I want to briskly walk through how I deploy these tools in my weekly preparation for my Fall ’23 literature course. I’ve been tinkering with generative AI in my classes since late Fall 2022 when ChatGPT (3.5 model) first appeared. Now I use ChatGPT Plus, and have added BingAI (in Creative Mode) and the text-to-image generators Midjourney, Bing Image Creator, and Ideogram to my AI toolbox. While I have taught the set of readings this term previously, I now experiment relentlessly with generative AI on the same material to explore new ways of student engagement, discover unexpected ideas or connections, and to assess whether AI delivers on one of its central promises: to help move instructors’ time up the value chain by unburdening them of some of tedious but important tasks (Escotet, 2023). 

Beyond re-reading the assigned text, in a typical week, I will: 

Organize Notes with ChatGPT:

  • The first step in my routine is to pass my notes to ChatGPT to sort them topically. I follow up by asking for discussion questions based on the notes and perhaps exploring a theme in greater detail by querying the chatbot for lateral ways to think about a topic. This method ensures that class discussions are rich, focused, and grounded in the text. I find this exercise provides a functional framework for structuring each week.  

Creating Presentation Slides:

  • Utilizing the now topically organized notes, I prompt ChatGPT to prepare the text for presentation slides. Whether I'm using PowerPoint, Sway, or AI-enabled platforms like Tome, it generates concise, bullet-pointed text for each slide. Prior to ChatGPT, my slides contained too much text, in violation of basic UX principles. With ChatGPT, I build in a constraint of a limited number of words per slide.  

Design in-class assignments:

  • Each week, our class has an in-class assignment, and we always have at least one AI Art Show every semester. Using Bing Image Creator and Ideogram—both free—students create unique AI-generated artwork relevant to some key moment or scene in the book. These creations are then collectively shared and discussed on a platform like Padlet. This activity not only showcases the creative potential of AI—and enhances students’ AI literacy—but also provides the class innovative interpretative angles to consider the novel’s narrative and thematic elements. It can also provide amusement: since users do not fully control the output of generative AI—that is what separates it from other forms of AI and computing generally—the image produced may be quite remote from the student’s intention.  
  • On weeks when a quiz is the in-class assignment, I use ChatGPT to create MCQs based on my notes and the model's internal knowledge of the text. ChatGPT can even tailor the questions to align with Bloom’s taxonomy, evaluating different levels of learners’ understanding, from basic recall to higher-order thinking skills. ChatGPT is excellent at many aspects of exam and assessment design (Wazan et al., 2023). 

For those interested in further exploring practical applications of generative AI in the classroom, I strongly recommend—in addition to OTL’s indispensable offerings!—subscribing to One Useful Thing, the free newsletter produced by Ethan Mollick, a professor at Penn’s Wharton School. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics in this column, reach out to the author at matthew.lagrone@guelphhumber.ca  


Bibliography 

Chan, C.K. (2023). Is AI Changing the Rules of Academic Misconduct? An In-depth Look at Students' Perceptions of 'AI-giarism'. ArXiv, abs/2306.03358. 

Escotet, M.. The optimistic future of Artificial Intelligence in higher education. Prospects (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-023-09642-z 

Michel-Villarreal, R.; Vilalta-Perdomo, E.; Salinas-Navarro, D.E.; Thierry-Aguilera, R.; Gerardou, F.S. Challenges and Opportunities of Generative AI for Higher Education as Explained by ChatGPT. Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 856. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/educsci13090856 

Shaw, C., Yuan, L., Brennan, D., Martin, S., Janson, N., Fox, K., & Bryant, G. (2023, October 23). Tyton Partners. tytonpartners.com/time-for-class-2023/GenAI-Update 

Wazan, A.S., Taj, I., Shoufan, A., Laborde, R., & Venant, R. (2023). How to Design and Deliver Courses for Higher Education in the AI Era: Insights from Exam Data Analysis. ArXiv, abs/2308.02441. 


Featured Teaching Resource 

Practical Tools to Empathize with your Learners 

Research shows that students are more successful when they find meaning in their learning. However, instructors may not always understand or be able to relate to their learners’ life experiences. Our colleagues at the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo have recently highlighted several tools to help instructors purposefully build empathy for their learners into their teaching. These tools, including empathy maps, can help instructors think through what students may be experiencing in- and outside of the classroom. Instructors can use these tools to better understand the student perspective, and consider small modifications to the course based on this enhanced understanding. 


Tales from ISSoTL 2023 

In early November, two OTL Educational Developers, Drs. Christie Stewart and Jennifer Reniers, represented OTL and UofG at the 2023 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSoTL) Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands. Held annually, the conference brings together teaching and learning scholars from around the world. This year’s conference theme, Context Matters, focused on the importance of SoTL for generating SoTL-specific knowledge. On November 10th, Christie and Jenn presented the results of their research (see last abstract on page 3) on the OTL Book Club, including the positive influence the book club has on instructors’ teaching, their sense of community that developed around teaching and learning, and their sustained engagement in thinking about SoTL literature. Research continues with interviews with book club participants to gather richer data and answer additional research questions


From everyone in the Office of Teaching and Learning, we wish you a restful winter break!


For more teaching resources or to chat with an Educational Developer, visit our website at otl.uoguelph.ca or contact otl@uoguelph.ca.