Answering Your AI Questions with Antonio Byrd, PhD

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The flagship course at the Institute at Macmillan Learning, "Teaching with Generative AI: A Course for Educators," was created with leading voices in the discourse of AI in higher education, including Antonio Byrd, PhD. The course combines asynchronous and synchronous learning, providing hands-on practice in crafting course policies regarding AI, creating AI-informed assignments, and engaging in discussions with students about AI usage.

Dr. Byrd shares his unique perspective and insights centered around AI in education by answering three questions from our AI webinar series last fall. To gain insight into the practical knowledge offered by the Institute course, delve into his background and insights on real questions from professors like you.

Antonio Byrd, PhD, is assistant professor of English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He teaches courses in professional and technical communication, multimodal composition, composition studies, and qualitative research methods. He serves on the Modern Language Association and Conference on College Composition and Communication Joint Task Force on Writing and AI (MLA-CCCC Joint Task Force on Writing and AI). Established in February 2023, this task force of scholars from different subfields of English gathers to support policies, assessments, and teaching about and with artificial intelligence in humanities classes and research. Antonio's first book manuscript From Pipeline to Black Coding Ecosystems: How Black Adults Use Computer Code Bootcamps for Liberation (The WAC Clearinghouse/University Press of Colorado) is forthcoming fall 2024.

Based on your knowledge, experience, and/or research, how do students perceive the meaningfulness of feedback provided by AI compared to feedback from human sources?

Antonio Byrd: In my first year writing class on research methods, I gave students the option to use a large language model for feedback on their literature reviews. Most students did not take this option, and instead relied on my and their peers’ comments. One student wrote in their self-assessment at the end of the unit that they didn’t like using artificial intelligence and found the human feedback more than helpful. I’ve given students the option to use LLMs for other tasks, and most do not take them. I suspect students bring some critical orientations to AI already and we should reveal those orientations to shape our policies and pedagogical decisions. 

What does the future of AI in education look like, and how can educators prepare for upcoming advancements and challenges in this field?

Antonio Byrd: The future of AI in education is probably already here. Many educational technology companies offer software already fused with artificial intelligence, such as Grammarly and Google Docs. Rather than going to a website to access a chatbot, the chatbot will come to them in learning management software. Arizona State University has gone a step further by partnering with OpenAI to create AI tools specific to the needs of their students. Educators need to be at the decision-making table when their institutions decide to switch from banning generative AI to willingly integrating them into existing learning tools. 

Given the absence of established institutional policies regarding AI usage, particularly in the context of plagiarism, how can educators navigate the ethical considerations surrounding AI adoption? Should using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools to respond to exam questions be considered a form of plagiarism?

Antonio Byrd: Navigating ethical considerations and policies for AI adoption may need to be a grassroots effort among faculty and even students. What those policies look like might depend on the discipline and their specific approach to critical inquiry and problem-solving. I think there should be some kind of tiered alignment from institutions to the classroom syllabus; not a copy and paste of the department’s copy and paste of the institution’s broad policy, but one that takes themes from one bigger tier and adapts it down the line to individual classrooms. Even in classrooms, instructors may set ground rules or guidance with students based on the class content.


Learn more about the "Teaching with Generative AI" course.

Learn more about Antonio Byrd