The Impact of AI on YOUR Role in Higher Education

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on all aspects of higher education from institutional ethics, to work flow processes, to student career choices.  Administrators, faculty, instructional designers and IT professionals- join our session to explore AI and discuss how your role will be affected by this disruptive technology. 


Lisa Burke is the director of the St. Thomas E-learning and Research (STELAR) group at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota’s largest private university.
Glori Hinck DC, EdD is an instructional designer/technologist for the University of St. Thomas E-Learning and Research Center (STELAR) in Minneapolis, MN. This role involves online and blended course design and development as well as faculty development and support related to academic technologies and online learning. Glori earned an MET and EdD in educational technology and a certificate in online teaching through Boise State University and a certificate in instructional technology from the College of St. Scholastica. For her doctoral dissertation she studied quality assurance in online MBA programs. Glori has over a decade of teaching experience, both online and face-to-face, and has created and taught a wide variety of courses from physiology and chiropractic technique to social media professionalism and online course design. Glori is also professional development faculty for OLC.

Extended Abstract

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?  AI has been defined by Merriam-Webster (2019) as “A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers” or “The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior”.  According to the Educause Horizon Report 2019 (Alexander et al., 2019), AI “uses foundations of algorithmic machine learning to make predictions that allow for human-like task completion and decision-making”.  

Why should those in higher education have AI on their radar?  
AI is a disruptive technology that is already significantly altering the way entire industries operate and is likely to have a tremendous impact on all aspects of higher education.  The Horizon Report is a well-respected publication that uses a panel of experts to forecast the technological developments driving innovation and educational change.  Artificial Intelligence made its debut in the 2017 Horizon Report as an important development in educational technology for higher education with a projected timeline to adoption of 4-5 years (Adams Becker et al., 2017).  In the current 2019 report, AI remains on the mid-term adoption horizon of 2-3 years as the programming, data, and networks driving AI mature (Alexander et al., 2019).  In addition to the Horizon Reports, the Future of Jobs 2018 Report (World Economic Forum [WEF], 2018) further supports the need for higher education to address AI now.  

As is typical with most faculty, staff and administrators in higher ed, we are not AI experts but recognize the need to begin a conversation around AI and connect with those who do have this expertise.  Given the imminence of AI adoption underscored by the various reports mentioned previously, we feel a professional obligation to learn more about these new AI technologies, their impact on our institutions, and what they mean to the future career paths of our students.  In this presentation we will share our initial work around AI and will ask you to think about and share what you can do to address the challenges offered by the integration of AI into higher education.

Baseline Poll and Discussion
We will start with a baseline poll and a guided discussion addressing how this audience defines AI, perceptions related the current and future impact of AI on everyday life and society, and specific concerns around AI such as ethics and implicit bias, replacement of humans and dehumanization.

The Impact of AI on Higher Education 
We will dive more deeply into the impact of AI on higher education.  According to the 2019 Horizon Report (Alexander et al., 2019), “AI’s ability to personalize experiences, reduce workloads, and assist with analysis of large and complex data sets recommends it to educational applications. However, concerns over equity, inclusion, and privacy temper enthusiasm for adoption.”  How will your institution balance the benefits of AI with potential privacy and other issues?  Specific AI applications in higher education will be used to illustrate this discussion,

and the Future of Jobs 
One concern often expressed related to AI is the potential impact on jobs.  Will machines take over our work making some people, skills, tasks, or educational programs superfluous? Will entire disciplines be gutted (e.g. accounting, finance)? Will we need to completely rebalance curricula or whole departments to reflect growing need in some areas and reduced need in others? Or, do we simply need to change and adapt what we teach in those areas?

According to LinkedIn, AI is building momentum across industries and jobs globally. The fastest growing skills on LinkedIn are those needed to create AI technologies.  The number of LinkedIn members adding AI skills to their profiles increased 190% from 2015 to 2017 (Perisic, 2019).  The Future of Jobs 2018 Report (WEC, 2018) lists AI as a top trend driving industry growth with the greatest impact in industries such as automotive, aerospace, supply train and transport; aviation travel and tourism; consumer; global health and healthcare; and professional services. This data supports that AI is predicted to impact nearly every job sector and is not just limited to the tech industry.  What does this mean for higher education?  How many students do our institutions educate for these industries and how prepared are we for this shift?  The students we educate are likely to encounter AI in some future career.  How do we begin to adequately prepare them for this AI future?

AI and Our Institution
Our upper administration has acknowledged the need to address AI across the institution and is funding specific AI and emerging technology initiatives.  Our eLearning and Research Center in collaboration with the business college is serving as a hub of AI activity.  There are also pockets of AI activity within programs such as Engineering.  In this presentation we will briefly describe our AI Showcase, AI and Human Flourishing conference, integration of AI into courses and programs, and development of AI literacy skills and capabilities.

Your AI Role
Most importantly, have you thought about how your role will be impacted with the growth of AI in higher education?  You will have an opportunity to discuss this in a small group facilitated by a business ethics professor, instructional designer, or IT manager with a report back to the larger group. 

Participants will participate in a pre-survey of their attitudes and beliefs around AI with results shared to the group.  They will divide into 3 groups facilitated by a business ethics professor, instructional designer, and IT manager to discuss the impact of AI on these and other roles in higher education.  The session will end with a brief report back to the full group.

Participants will be able to:
•    Recognize artificial intelligence applications
•    Identify potential ethical issues related to AI in higher education
•    Discuss the current and future impact of AI on the roles and responsibilities of higher education professionals

Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., &  Nanthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Alexander, B., Ashford-Rowe, K., Barajas-Murphy, N., Dobbin, G., Knott, J., McCormack, M., Pomerantz, J., Seilhamer, R., & Weber, N. (2019). EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: 2019 Higher Education Edition. Educause. Retrieved from 

Meriam-Webster. (2019). Artificial intelligence. Retrieved from 
Perisic, I. (2019). How artificial intelligence is already impacting today’s jobs. LinkedIn. Retrieved from

Ransbotham, S., Kiron, D., Gerbert, P., & Reeves, M. (2017).  Artificial intelligence: Closing the gap between ambition and action. MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved from  

World Economic Forum (WEF). (2018).  The Future of Jobs Report 2018.  Retrieved from