Opinion: GenAI is transforming higher education, and Florida is leading the way

<p>OpenAI logo (TBT)</p>

OpenAI logo (TBT)

In the past 18 months, one of the most pressing conversations in higher education — throughout the U.S. and everywhere else in the world — has been about the emergence and implications of a technology called generative artificial intelligence, or GenAI.

While this technology, which uses AI to create content such as text, images and video, is not new, its recent widespread adoption has led some educators to panic over how it may affect the way we work, communicate and live.

Such reactions are not hyperbolic. GenAI is a profoundly disruptive technology, on par with the invention of the printing press or the digital computer. The extraordinary power of GenAI to automate heretofore uniquely human abilities is inspiring excitement about how it may open up new business opportunities, free employees from repetitive tasks and exponentially increase the pace at which human knowledge advances. The technology is also inciting fears that it will replace people in the workforce and diminish the human capacity for critical thought.

It is no surprise, therefore, that nearly every college in the country is currently reimagining higher education in an effort to leverage the power of GenAI, and to preserve relevant aspects of traditional academic practices and values. From defining and integrating “AI literacies” across curricula to rethinking the fundamentals of what and how we teach, educators are confronting a host of thorny questions about the relationships between technology, knowledge and human intelligence. For many, coming to terms with the impact of GenAI on higher education is akin to rebuilding the proverbial ship while still at sea.

Institutional change is seldom easy, and the current efforts to re-engineer higher education are uncomfortably complex. Such discomfort is healthy to the extent that it prompts reflection and engagement, but there is no guarantee that America’s colleges and universities will trend toward such openness where GenAI is concerned — at least not without an intentional and sustained effort to overcome longstanding prejudices.

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Sid Dobrin, Ph.D. and Bruce Fraser, Ph.D. July 7, 2024