Fullerton College debates its approach to artificial intelligence in education

The development of new AI programs keeps faculty members and students puzzled on how this technology should be approached in education.
With new programs continuing to be developed, artificial intelligence is generating a debate amongst students and professors at Fullerton College.
With new programs continuing to be developed, artificial intelligence is generating a debate amongst students and professors at Fullerton College.
Pedro Saravia

Since the release of ChatGPT last November, The Harvard Business Review states that artificial intelligence is now able to take over jobs such as copywriting, customer services, legal document writing, among others. However, some professors at Fullerton College, such as English faculty member Kim Vandervort, said that AI can have a negative impact on education.

“I just really think that we still need to value the humanities and those skills that make us human. And the more we give away to technology, the more we lose,” said Vandervort.

Vandervort and Digital Arts professor Frank Guthrie agreed that critical thinking is important for a student’s development. With the advent of generative AI, Vandervort said that students might over rely on the technology, which in turn allows them to avoid the use of critical thinking.

“What separates humans from machines is that we’re creative and machines cannot and will never be creative,” said Guthrie.

Roger Perez, English department coordinator at Fullerton College, said that his department has continuous conversations on AI. He said that there is a range of opinions on it, and some faculty members are waiting for directions to come from outside the department.

“So, is the Academic Senate going to take up some kind of position? Is the President? Is the Vice President of Instruction? Are other departments like sociology or math?” said Perez.

He also said that new technologies are constantly being produced, and it is best to stay updated and maintain the focus of what is best for the students.

“I think we are seriously thinking about how to continually update and revise our syllabus language as regards academic dishonesty,” said Perez.

Each English class is different in their approach to AI, it just depends on how much the professor wants to engage with it according to Perez. However, he also said that some professors are leaning into more in-class assignments and essays to mitigate the use of AI for their class.

However, apart from Chat GPT, there are other programs that have been released with different formatting, such as a new artificial intelligence program called Julius AI.

“If you can have an AI professor in your pocket that can teach you things in the language that you understand, that all of a sudden is really powerful,” said Rahul Sonwalkar, the founder and co-creator of Julius AI.

Sonwalkar described his program as a general-purpose data analyst in your pocket. He said that his program grants the ability to help a student learn, as he or she likes. The program is meant to serve as a personal tutor at your fingertips.

Julius AI has the function to translate text directly to someone’s native language, something Sonwalkar said he wished he had during his college days as a Hindi native speaker.

Sonwalkar also said that Julius AI has over 80,000 users worldwide. He added that it is often used to visualize data and aid for scientists and doctors’ research.

As many AI programs such as Julius AI, Chat GPT, and others are developed, the Hornet community believes the jury is still out on how to approach this new technology.

First year business major Kailey Diego said that AI has not been helpful to students with their ability to actually remember class material.

“It’s not really helping, although like it does make their life easier. I feel like that’s where it stems from the problem,” said Diego.

While some of these programs can predict earthquakes and volcanoes, detect early stages of cancer, and even help NASA in their space exploration, it is not certain whether AI can be beneficial or negative to education, as reported by UNESCO.

Meanwhile, two students majoring in computer science, freshman Bradyn Cabianca and freshman Angelo Andreade, said that AI brings a new set of ways to complete assignments and learn school concepts.

“I think it’s kind of like the next step in a way, kind of like how we had handheld calculators and phones,” said Andrade. “Every new technology has been incorporated into education eventually, so I think AI is definitely no exception.”

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