New university task force works on clearer protocols around use of AI tools in the classroom, provides provisional guidelines ahead of the fall semester

The recent rise in generative artificial intelligence use has pushed universities to address the lack definitive and researched protocols for its use in the classroom.  

On May 1, 2023, the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching launched their Generative Artificial Intelligence in Teaching and Learning Task Force. The task force’s goal is to better understand the impact of generative AI through an educational lens and develop recommendations for policies around its use for at McMaster University.

"Task Force members representing all six Faculties included faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, staff and senior administrators. The efforts of this diverse group of experts are summarized in a Final Report. . .The Final Report will also include recommendations for continued work across all areas of the University, which may include research, teaching and learning and staff work,” said Kim Dej and Matheus Grasselli, co-chairs of the task force, in a written statement. 

On Sept. 10, they will submit their recommendations to Susan Tighe, provost and vice president (academic), after which they will undergo further review before being released.  

Until this is completed the provisional guidelines have been released by the university to help guide the use of generative AI in the meantime.  

As McMaster prepares to release its specific policies and guide for generative AI, everyone is encouraged to use the provisional guidelines and resources provided on the Generative Artificial Intelligence in Teaching and Learning website. 

Transparency is at the core of these guidelines. Instructors are permitted to integrate generative AI tools, such as Chat GPT, into their courses, if they so choose, but they must communicate clearly with their students the extent to which these tools will be and are permitted to be used.  

When it comes to student work and assessments, while instructors are again permitted to integrate generative AI tools into these tasks, unless told otherwise, students should operate with the assumption that the use of these tools is not permitted. 

If members of the McMaster educational community have any comments or concerns about the Provisional Guideline provided and future guidelines they are encouraged to share through the task forces form

C/O Ollie Take, Contributor

Got yesterday’s lecture notes? 

As McMaster University students prepare to return to in-person learning, the school issued new guidance on how students should handle absences. 

On Feb. 1, McMaster Daily News posted a guide on what to do if you get COVID-19.  

“Staying home when sick or isolating when required is one of the most important ways our community members can contribute to making in-person learning and working as safe as possible,” wrote McMaster Daily News.  

Everyone in the McMaster community is reminded that they must complete MacCheck before attending campus.  

If you have symptoms or have tested positive, stay home!  

For those who are not well enough to learn, the university has increased how long the MSAF lasts. Instead of only covering three days of missed classes and assignments, you will now be able to MSAF five days. This ends in April 2022. 

“Students are encouraged to use the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) through Mosaic if their screening results recommend that they isolate and are not permitted to come to campus,” said the post. 

DeGroote School of Business students received a flowchart that explains what to do if they miss class. Students who are not cleared to attend classes are instructed to contact their peers, TAs or instructors to stay on top of their work. 

C/O DeGroote School of Business

The Daily News article also spoke to students who are currently living on residence, encouraging them to check with their community advisor or residence life area coordinator for more details on what to do if they show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.  

According to Housing and Conference Services, if students live in residence and need to isolate, they may be asked to move to an isolation room for up to 10 days, unless they have a private ensuite washroom, live in a suite or apartment style room, or isolate at home. 

Students have pointed out on the McMaster sub-Reddit that the university has not said whether or not classes will be required to be recorded. This confusion has caused some heated debated amongst users. 

“This doesn’t confirm that they won’t record right? Or does it? Honestly idk lol,” user Lord_of_Wessex wrote about the flowchart sent by DeGroote. 

In a MacDiscussions roundtable with the Silhouette and 93.3 CFMU, Vice-Provost (Academic) Kim Dej said that most medium to large lecture halls would be equipped with recording technology. 

“[W]e have really invested in our learning spaces over the last 20 months. Most of our medium and large lecture halls have Echo 360, which is a capture tool that the MSU has been advocating for many years pre-pandemic and it means that live lectures can be streamed or they can be recorded,” said Dej

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McMaster University has not publicly stated whether all in-person classes will be recorded for students who are absent. Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Susan Tighe stated in a post on McMaster Daily News that the university is committed to helping those who cannot come to campus due to isolation. 

“Our university is committed to being supportive, compassionate and flexible for our community members who are required to isolate,” said Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Susan Tighe.  

Despite Tighe’s commitment, many students remain confused as to exactly what supports are available should they get COVID-19 and cannot attend in-person classes.  

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