“This is something we are in the very early stages of educating ourselves and our faculty about. We did some professional development this fall about AI, and it was the superpower and good part of AI, not the, ‘I’m going to help every student cheat,’ because that’s instantly where people went when all of this started. Just in conversations that we’ve been having, I’m using it more now, to help me with those administrivia things that I have to do. I had to write a catalog description for a certificate [that’s] IT-related, but I’m not the subject matter expert. We were taught how to give the AI assistant the right kind of prompt to get what we wanted back, and so I used ChatGPT with the prompt. And Chat GPT wrote a catalog description for this certificate. And then of course, I massaged it and changed some things.”
Dean of Business and EngineeringDreamer/Doer/Relationship Builder
“I live currently, at 44 years of age, on the same bus route — and I’m talking school bus route — that I grew up on, [that] my daughter rode to school on until she was driving. … I’m Appalachia, family is in Appalachia, and we work hard here. I was raised by two wonderful human beings who have worked very hard their whole lives. Neither one went to college. So I’m a first-gen college student, first-gen college graduate. I couldn’t leave home. And so I stayed here. I stayed at home with my parents and came to the community college where I’m currently sitting because I came here 26 years ago and never left. I was once the administrative assistant to the Dean of Business, and I am now the Dean of Business at the same institution.”
Designing for Growth
“I’ve learned with my advanced education about collective impact, what a difference we can make in the lives of those around us if we’re all working toward the same thing… Appalachia is not really stereotyped as being a place that values education, or thinking into the future. A lot of people are content with following a traditional path, graduating from high school and going and working a Production Technician job at a factory. We need those people, AND some of them may be seeking to grow into other opportunities. So what’s our place in that, to help them advance their skills, that way they can maybe become a supervisor in that role… to help people see that [future]. I hope we continue as a college to become involved … where we can have influence over the bettering of our community. For example, [a private family foundation in town] sponsored a community read, and we got involved with it. All of our first-year students read the book. The author was invited to come to our auditorium here in town, they hosted a writing contest for sophomores and juniors, the local schools came … it was a big deal. And this year, it was freshmen and sophomores who were invited. Of course, community members were there. One of the things we’re really focusing on right now are cultural activities and ways to expand your horizons … there’s more out there in the world than what I grew up doing.”
“We’ve gotten back some curriculum ideas. We were talking about creating a leadership certificate. [And we were wondering] what’s in a leadership certificate? And we got a whole list of things. We’ve asked for help with writing course goals, objectives, and learning outcomes. We’ve asked for help with testing or quizzing, doing assessments on certain learning outcomes because we don’t have all the answers, even though we’re administrators and we were finding that it’s helping us be more efficient with our positions.”
AI vs. Human-driven growth
“I had to write a letter not that long ago, to colleagues outside of the college, inviting them to an activity here for a specific reason. I wanted to show excitement around it, but I was staring at a blank Word screen. And I didn’t know what to do. So I typed my prompt into ChatGPT, and it came up with some really cool things to use. Some of them [did not sound] like me. These people actually meet me in person. They’re going to say, ‘Oh, she used AI to write that.’ ChatGPT gave it back to me in about three seconds. It took me about five minutes to massage it, copy and paste into my document, and format it. I’m more comfortable with AI because I know I’m not going to just take what it says and use it. That’s where my fear is, that people will not use their own brains to take that and use it as a starting point.”
Designing for Agency
“I put my [educator] hat on with my daughter because she’s a junior in high school. She is very independent, smart as a whip, you know, the whole nine. She’s just a really cool individual, and I’m trying to help her get all the tools she can possibly collect that will help her make good decisions tomorrow and in the future. So I think that that’s my job, not just from a parent perspective, but when I’m here, these students are my students as well, even though I’m not in the classroom anymore. The choices I make have an effect on them, like bringing the student voice to the table when possible … whether that’s literally bringing them into the room or figuratively talking about what they might think when we’re making decisions.”
“Perhaps AI would help our students with learning about career paths and how to make better informed choices. Could your AI assistant get to know you well enough to help you by saying, ‘You really struggled with whatever concept that’s going to be in this class. Maybe you should get tutoring early on.’ I hope it’s going to help us streamline our lives a little bit more and make things easier for us.“
AI vs. Human-driven agency
“I am too much of a control freak to let a machine take over my life. And so there will always be a huge human element in that for me. I have this adaptive cruise control on my vehicle. And I hate it because I want to be in charge of how close I am to the car in front of me. And I want to be in charge of when I accelerate and decelerate based on what’s going on. But my car does that for me, and I can turn it off … and I normally do turn it off when I’m driving because it drives me insane. I think there are more people out there like me than are unlike me in that regard [who might] let the machine do everything for them.”
Designing for Belonging
It’s about relationships, getting to know people. I’m a people person. I’ll also go back to Appalachia family. That’s the culture here. We are like one giant family at this institution. I feel like fostering that relationship building [is critical]. Our holiday party was Monday, and we go to the local bowling alley. The college pays for pizza and cookies, and we get two drink tickets to use however we want. And we have door prizes and prizes for the bowling games, and we just have a really good time. And those are the kinds of things we do that foster a sense of belonging.
Am I allowed to simply say, I don’t know? Because I said that the human element, the relationships [are important]. I don’t know if I have an example or even a thought about how AI can be helpful in [creating a sense of belonging] … I think it would be a really sad day in the world if we lost [human relationships].
AI vs. Human-driven belonging
We have an Appalachian STEM collaborative, a gathering of people in K-12 education, higher education, some employers are involved, job and family services people, coming together to talk about STEM. Last week, it was about women in STEM and how to get these young girls and women into STEM, which is a project we’re working on pretty heavily right now at our college, because only 10% of our engineering students are females, which is difficult because one of the goals that [a large multinational company] has set is that 40% of their workforce will be females. We need to step up our game. I was at this meeting and one of the presenters showed us a YouTube clip that was a commercial from SoFi, the finance company, and it was AI generated.
[In the commercial] they typed into the AI [chatbot], ‘Show me an image of someone who’s good with money.’ So [it produced] white men. And then the next question was, ‘Show me someone who is good at investing.’ And again, it’s white men and all different white men … but that really underrepresented females. And so, the point of that was, it’s our responsibility as humans to train AI to not be biased with gender stereotypes. It was pretty powerful.
But there’s a commercial where there’s a girl sitting, and she said, ‘I’m the face of childhood hunger in America.’ She was an AI-generated image. So why is the young girl the face of hunger, and the white male is the face of being good with money? Because humans train AI, right. So we have to make sure we’re not training the AI in a biased way.