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AI in the Classroom - Balancing automation with student-centric learning

Pooja Madhav


Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere — in the spaceships we send to space, the emails we write, our personalized streaming recommendations, and the devices we use. At the Daniels School of Business, it’s also in classrooms.

Mohammad Rahman speaking with a student

Forbes journalist John Smith writes "Artificial intelligence is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses looking to stay competitive in today's data-driven world." Since students at the Daniels School are the future of business, they need to learn how to use AI in the classroom and for business.

Mohammad Rahman, the Daniels School Chair in Management and the inaugural academic director of the school's new Master of Business and Technology (MBT) program, explains that students will use AI for coding in the workplace. It is an integral part of how they will be expected to operate and deliver at their dream companies. Encouraging them to use AI in class now, be it as a tool to assist with homework, better process information or organize data, isn’t about enabling cheating, as some worry; it’s about preparing for the future.

Faculty at the Daniels School have adapted their instruction and expectations to incorporate AI for the benefit of the students, and while there are concerns, they all agree: It comes down to how it's used.

Mohammad Rahman
“Back in the day, once our time was freed up from all the work we had to do when we farmed crops, produced food, harvested, etc., that’s when we got to the Industrial Revolution. We learned how to save time. Saving time is exactly what AI does for students.” — Mohammad Rahman

Jeffrey Hu, the Accenture Professor of Information Technology at the Daniels School, explains that AI can bring efficiency in a variety of fields, ranging from “operations in marketing, banking, prediction of sales and volume, or needing to understand consumer traffic.” Students should be equipped to use it to its fullest potential. It also brings efficiency to learning.

“If you let students hand-write code, the variables and terms, they may not remember some of the syntax. They may be making tiny errors, causing the whole thing to not work. They spend a lot of time debugging. By using AI, students are 10 times more efficient in writing code,” says Hu.

Rahman explains that in the past he has always had to factor in additional time to accommodate for time-consuming parts of assignments that do not directly stimulate thinking. However, through the integration of AI, he is now able to make time for more intellectually stimulating work while AI handles the rest. This allows students to manage their time and more intentionally focus on intellectually stimulating work, as they pursue their degree. Rahman draws a powerful parallel to the Industrial Revolution in this context.

Jeffrey Hu
“Technology is not perfect yet, so sometimes you may need to make changes and modify your AI prompts five, seven, even 10 times. ChatGPT makes errors. Students then have the opportunity to take a look and identify these errors.” — Jeffrey Hu

While AI is truly remarkable, it only does half the job. “You prompt it to give you code, research or data, but the application is now on you. That’s the essence of what the Daniels School teaches,” explains Hu.

AI is a lot like a search engine: breaking down prompts and giving you exactly what you ask for — but in pieces. However, in education, students must transform these pieces into deliverables, the success of which completely depends on their skill level. AI will always be capable of everything except making information deliverable — that’s what humans do. Humans “link outputs to decisions and translate scenarios into solvable data sets. This needs human ingenuity and creativity, not AI,” adds Hu.

By recognizing the gaps between what AI offers and what modern jobs demand, professors have adapted their courses to make the use of AI productive. Brian Chupp, a clinical assistant professor in management, tells his students: “Allow the AI tool to put your slides together and number them. But only you know your content. I do not want to teach you how to put presentations together, but how to tell a story.”

Brian Chupp

Similarly, when Chupp assigns written assignments, he encourages his students to use ChatGPT but says that “only 10 or 15 percent of the paper can come from that. And, when used, it must be cited like a source.” Chupp’s philosophy is simple: by citing AI as a contributor rather than the primary source of turned-in work, students open themselves up to critique AI-generated work, as they would regularly do to other sources provided by the search engine. This is when students begin to engage in critical skill-building, a process that they will be expected to frequently engage in as professionals in their future roles.

Fabricio d'AlemeidaTroy Janes

Fabrico D’Almedia, a clinical assistant professor of finance at the Daniels School, says that he trusts AI “to improve the message in writing,” but not as a “source of data.” Essentially, AI reads and follows systems, treating the information it is provided as an instruction module. Therefore, while it succeeds at rearranging words and altering the tone of writing, its capacity to analyze and evaluate at a human level is lacking. Hence, users will not “always find a 100 percent match with what they are attempting to say and what AI is providing them.” In the end, humans need to polish and perfect what AI produces.

Troy Janes, a clinical professor of management, fosters a balance between traditional learning and incorporating AI. Students can use AI to create some work, but he has them give public presentations, curate original examples and return to the beauty of writing pen-paper tests.

Because AI fails in circumstances where instructions are limited, humans still need a comprehensive education “It does not do well for things that it has not seen. It does not extrapolate from one experience to another. As humans, our ability to do that is innate,” says Janes.

At the Daniels School, students are equipped to make their skills irreplaceable. AI tools are now part of how they learn and work. AI tools make students more efficient, but it’s up to humans to be sensible in using them. That kind of skill matters at the School of Business from day one.

If you would like to receive more information about pursuing a business master’s at the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, please fill out the form and a program specialist will be in touch!

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