KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University is offering a new course this fall on writing with the assistance of artificial intelligence technology.
A few strokes of the keyboard and a click of the mouse is now giving writers a new assistant.
“By premising the course kind of around engagement and not fear, what we’re doing is we’re giving students an opportunity to see how it will work for them,” said Brian Gogan, an associate professor of English at Western Michigan University.
The new course this fall, taught by Gogan at WMU, looks to teach students AI’s proper use.
“I was talking to a student who was considering a career in technical writing and he said, ‘Boy, I picked the wrong time to move into this field.’ However, what I said to him is, ‘You actually picked a great time to learn about this new tool and new technology and to leverage it and make you more competitive than other technical writers out there,’” said Gogan.
The popularity of AI services like Google’s Bard are growing but another important part of this course is understanding how to disclose its use.
“If you’re using a technology tool and AI platform to do that, you need to be up front about that,” Gogan said.
The class, called AI Writing Prompt and Response, is open to graduates, undergraduates and people who are not enrolled in a specific WMU program. It is also being taught with a virtual option. The course is part of a broader effort to modernize instruction.
“WMUx is essentially the teaching and learning unit on campus so we focus on teaching and learning innovation,” said Alyssa Moon, associate director of instructional design and development at WMU.
She said events and workshops the university has had on the subject have already seen a strong interest.
“We have people coming from actually all over the world, so we had some people joining us from England,” said Moon.
The skills of AI are also called into question and that varies depending on what it’s being asked to do.
“There has been a lot of discussion about the use of AI tools for kind of recall questions. Questions where there are discreet answers out there. So on the one hand, individuals have said that AI technologies are really effective at providing these types of answers but on the other hand, there are questions over those accuracies,” said Gogan.