Planting the Seeds: Integrating AI Skills & Tools


Josh Herron, PhD, Director of Professional Learning at OLC

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Now that we’ve sampled the soil and understand the lay of the land regarding AI in education, it’s time to start planting. This second phase is all about intentionally integrating AI tools and skills into your teaching practice. It’s about finding that sweet spot where innovative technology complements and enhances – not replaces – your tried-and-true methods.

Adapting Your Teaching Practices

Integrating AI isn’t about completely throwing out the old playbook. It’s about adapting and evolving. When I began my career as a faculty member, I was hesitant to grade online. I had to reframe my approach to understand that online grading had numerous benefits for students and their learning. (I then moved to teaching fully online as I learned more about the transformative potential at the intersection of technology and teaching.)  Similarly, integrating AI can help faculty integrate sound teaching practices that may not have always been feasible. 

Here are a few ways you can weave AI into your existing practices:

  • Creating Diverse Assignments: Use AI to generate a wide variety of assignment ideas or assessment questions, catering to different learning styles and interests.
  • Boosting Productivity: Let AI handle tedious tasks. Let AI be your research assistant or editor or even use it to summarize student feedback to free up your time for more meaningful interactions.
  • Fostering Critical Thinking: Have students analyze AI-generated content. Challenge them to identify biases, inconsistencies, or potential inaccuracies, sharpening their critical thinking skills.

Designing Courses with AI in Mind

While many practices can be enhanced with AI, there may be times when it makes sense to reimagine a course with AI in mind. As you plan a new or revised course, consider how AI can play a role in the learning journey:

  • How can AI support your learning outcomes? Ensure that any AI tool you use directly contributes to achieving the goals of your course.
  • How can AI enhance student engagement? Explore AI-powered tools that offer personalized learning pathways, gamified activities, or interactive simulations.
  • How can AI help you assess student learning more effectively? Consider using AI-powered assessment tools to provide more timely and targeted feedback.

Two of the offerings in OLC Teaching and Learning with AI credential are key in adapting and revising learning experiences for AI. The AI for Collaborative Brainstorming workshop uses a design thinking approach to teaching and learning with AI. Our new AI-Powered Course Design workshop allows faculty and designers to explore how AI can augment the course building process and lead to gains in productivity. 

Selecting the Right Tools

As with any digital learning transformation, the tool matters, but choosing the tool follows knowing what you want to do with it. The AI landscape is vast and ever-expanding. It’s like a well-stocked shed full of tools, each designed for a specific purpose. It can be difficult to find the right tool because there are so many. Focus on just a few to avoid overloading yourself or your learners. 

Below are just a select few that are particularly useful in the educational garden:

  • ChatGPT: This versatile Large Language Model (LLM) is like a Swiss Army knife for educators. Use it to brainstorm lesson ideas, generate writing prompts, facilitate online discussions, or even create interactive quizzes.
  • Claude: If research is your focus, Claude is your trusty assistant. As an LLM, It can summarize articles, analyze data, and even help draft reports, saving you valuable time.
  • Grammarly or Quillbot: Think of these as your digital writing coaches. They’ll help you (and your students) polish written work, improving clarity, conciseness, and overall quality.

The key to success in this phase is to be intentional and strategic. Don’t just adopt AI tools for the sake of using technology. Choose the right tools for the right tasks and integrate them thoughtfully into your teaching practices. In the upcoming final installment of this blog series, we’ll discuss the role of long-term integration and growth in preparing educators to lead in the age of AI. 

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