Incorporating Generative AI as Problem-Solving Tools at Trent

By Trent University Modified on January 19, 2024
Tags : News | STEM | Tech

Through a new second-year Geography course, e-learning designer Christian Metaxas and Dr. Heather Nicol encourage applying a critical lens to technology use.

 Incorporating Generative AI as Problem-Solving Tools at Trent

Embracing Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) “disruptive and transformative” nature — this is the vision behind a new second-year Geography course developed by Christian Metaxas, e-learning designer with Trent University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning and Dr. Heather Nicol, professor of Geography in the School of the Environment.

Learning how to incorporate AI into academia

The goal, Metaxas explained, is not to use AI to generate answers but rather to provide additional resources to facilitate critical analysis. This approach encourages students to engage in thoughtful analysis before arriving at informed conclusions.

Students will be able to think critically about how generative products are trained, and the earlier they start thinking critically about it, the more they’ll be ready to deal with things later down the road,” Metaxas said.

Acknowledging the potential moral and ethical concerns surrounding generative AI in education, Metaxas and Prof. Nicol promote students’ effective use of these tools. The course is not about chasing the latest buzzwords; rather, it is about utilizing AI responsibly.

Designed for second-year students who have already gained proficiency in specialized software like Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the curriculum in GEOG-2810, Canada: People and Places, includes generative AI, allowing students to explore alternatives to specialized software.

While expressing that these tools are still in their beginning stages and their integration into curricula remains experimental, Metaxas states, “I think having a tool that helps you reach the summit on some of those ideas that you might have looked at from afar is what excites me personally.”

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