Learning Technology Coach Podcast

S3E5. A Student’s Perspective: The Impact of AI on Learning in Higher Education

November 07, 2023 Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), Memorial University Season 3 Episode 5
S3E5. A Student’s Perspective: The Impact of AI on Learning in Higher Education
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Learning Technology Coach Podcast
S3E5. A Student’s Perspective: The Impact of AI on Learning in Higher Education
Nov 07, 2023 Season 3 Episode 5
Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), Memorial University

Featuring Dua Fatima - Student, Master of Artificial Intelligence Program, Memorial University

Dua studied Bioinformatics and worked in fascinating areas such as computer-aided drug design and microbiome data analysis through machine learning.

In this episode, hear a graduate student’s opinion of the impact of AI on higher education and how students work and learn. Dua talks about how ChatGPT blew her mind and can make a student’s life easier. At the same time, she thinks that specific AI tools should also exist for instructors to help them detect potential misuse of AI in the learning environment. Tune in to learn why Dua believes AI is the tool of the future!

The Learning Technology Coach Podcast is a CITL production.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Featuring Dua Fatima - Student, Master of Artificial Intelligence Program, Memorial University

Dua studied Bioinformatics and worked in fascinating areas such as computer-aided drug design and microbiome data analysis through machine learning.

In this episode, hear a graduate student’s opinion of the impact of AI on higher education and how students work and learn. Dua talks about how ChatGPT blew her mind and can make a student’s life easier. At the same time, she thinks that specific AI tools should also exist for instructors to help them detect potential misuse of AI in the learning environment. Tune in to learn why Dua believes AI is the tool of the future!

The Learning Technology Coach Podcast is a CITL production.

Speaker Key:
TO              Timilehin Oguntuyaki
VK              Verena Kalter
DF              Dua Fatima
AN              Announcer


TO | Hello, everyone. My name is Timilehin.

VK | And I am Verena.

TO | And welcome to the Learning Technology Coach podcast.

VK | In series three, we delve into the world of artificial intelligence.

TO | Its role in post-secondary education.

VK | How it’s being implemented into the learning space.

TO | Plus a whole lot more.

VK | And welcome to the final episode of series three of the Learning Technology Coach podcast, brought to you from the Media Services production studio of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. I have my amazing co-host, Timilehin, with me in the studio today. Timilehin, can you believe this is the last episode of this series?

TO | Really, Verena? Time flies really fast. And it is important to state at this point that we have had a really wonderful and impactful series three. I mean, we have sampled the opinions of the who’s whos in higher education, and I personally have learned a lot.

VK | I couldn’t agree more. But now let’s talk business. Timilehin, what do you think of the new Master of Artificial Intelligence programme at Memorial University?

TO | Well, Verena, the Master of Artificial Intelligence here at Memorial University does sound really exciting. I mean, we all know that AI has come to stay, and we need to make sure that students receive the necessary education to work in this rapidly evolving field.

VK | That is so true. AI is turning into a crucial element of today’s environment, and this is why Memorial University has launched its new Centre for Artificial Intelligence, with the goal to build partnerships with industry and the province’s entrepreneurial landscape. And in the episode today, we will have a chat with a student who is enrolled in the Master of Artificial Intelligence programme.

TO | Right. And as always, I’m sure we can learn a lot of this interview today. So, sit back and enjoy.

Welcome back to the Media Services production studio of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Artificial intelligence is the hot topic of the moment. Naturally, students want to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in this field.

VK | You are so right, Timilehin. Universities are working hard to incorporate AI into their curricula and course offerings. Memorial University has recently launched its Master of Artificial Intelligence programme, where students can delve into areas such as robotics, machine learning, or image processing.

TO | Wow, that sounds really exciting, and I’m sure that students will be thrilled to learn about the details of what makes up AI. One of the students enrolled in this programme in Memorial University, Dua Fatima, is with us today. She has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on artificial intelligence, its impact on education and on students, and much more. Verena, would you please introduce our guest?

VK | It would be my pleasure. Dua was born and raised in Pakistan and is now a student at Memorial University’s Master of Artificial Intelligence programme. She did her undergraduate studies in bioinformatics, focusing on structural and functional prediction of G-quadruplex in computer-aided drug designing. 

She worked for deepnostiX, a startup company based in Germany and owned by Dr Raza Rahman from Harvard University and Dr Anna Liebhoff from Johns Hopkins University. Dua has also worked on microbiome data analysis through machine learning. My goodness, that’s quite the bio, hey?

TO | That’s fantastic, Dua.

DF | Thank you.

TO | Welcome to the show.

DF | Thank you so much. Thank you for inviting me.

TO | How are you doing today?

DF | I’m doing great, thank you.

TO | Beautiful. I mean, I’ve listened to Verena read out your bio, and then most of these big words that I’m hearing, they sound really big, but we shouldn’t go into the details of that for now. I believe you are going to provide clarification if that’s needed. But I really want to ask you, what brought you into this programme, Artificial Intelligence?

DF | So, like she said, I belong from a bioinformatics background. And since I was working in one of the domains of AI over there, so it was microbiome data analysis, and it involves a lot of AI, machine learning, and lots of big data to be analysed through the machine learning process. So, that  was one of the reasons why I developed an interest in AI. And then, I saw this programme was offered in Memorial, and then I applied over here.

VK | That’s awesome, Dua. So, for most of here at MUN, artificial intelligence is actually something that’s more so of a new concept, and we’re all raving about ChatGPT and whatnot. But it sounds like you’ve been familiar with artificial intelligence for quite some time, so you’ve worked with it in your undergrad studies. What do you hope to gain from this programme at MUN now?

DF | So, since I had a background in bioinformatics, I am going to move forward with AI in bioinformatics itself. I’m not going to change my domain. And my career goal is to go into biomedical industries that is using image processing and computer vision and machine learning in order to analyse and help the medical industry. So, this was one of the reasons why I came into this programme, and I chose AI.

TO | Oh, good. So, so far, the programme is giving you what you expected, right?

DF | Yes, it’s giving me all the courses that I wanted, so I had a big choice of choosing my courses over here. I did computer vision course, I did machine learning course, and I’m in my last semester right now, and I’m doing a project, too, that is based on helping all the professors and the students to quickly skim through their lecture notes and get their answers from whoever professors they want to have seen to.

VK | Wonderful. Did you face any challenges in the programme?

DF | Yes, there was a lot of challenges since obviously it was a different background. I did have a lot of knowledge of IT before, and also biology, but going into a complete different, into an IT-based studies, so it was difficult for me to adapt to the environment, since I didn’t have that much knowledge of engineering, also. But I did well. I am doing well. And that’s the thing. It’s hard sometimes, but you get through it.

VK | Of course. It wouldn’t be grad school if it weren’t challenging, I guess. So, I’m wondering, do you personally use AI to help you study or prepare your stuff for your AI Masters studies? Do you use things like ChatGPT, for example?

DF | Yes, ChatGPT is a big, hard topics right now, because all the students are using ChatGPT to help through different assignments and stuff. But yes, that is one of the things that I do use. It helps me in learning and preparing my lectures. It also helped me understand some topics. You can say it’s the Nobel Prize-winning software that is developed by OpenAI for all the students, so it does give a lot of help to all the students. 

So, that’s one of the things that I’m using, the ChatGPT. Other than that, we do have software from OpenAI. You can translate your voice into text. And you can also use AI in games. So, we did have a course in which we were developing games through reinforcement learning, and we did develop games that was related to all the algorithms. So, it’s a lot of stuff we’re using in AI.

TO | Beautiful. I’m so happy to learn that you are talking about ChatGPT and OpenAI beyond just helping students maybe to gain more information, but also in transcribing, and turning text into speech, or speech into text, whatever way. 

But I really want to know, are you worried or concerned about the ethical use of these programs? Maybe students just use it, and just get all of the information from it, and dump it on their instructors, and submit it as assignments. So, do you feel worried or concerned? Or do you think, well, there is a lot of opportunity in here? What’s your opinion on that?

DF | So, developing in AI involves bad AI, as well as good AI. So, good AI is something that is going to benefit the humanity and the students, as well. Bad AI is something that everyone is fear of having. That’s like a robot taking over the earth, but obviously that’s not going to happen. But in ChatGPT, now they have introduced a citation over there. So, if you are using ChatGPT, you have to use citations from there, which can eliminate the fear of plagiarism. 

But obviously, students are using some things in bad ways, like they are doing assignments through that, which is technically not right, to be honest. So, you can say AI is good and, yes, it has its own… It’s on the person who’s using it. It’s more focused on how you use it.

VK | Absolutely, I agree with you. I think everybody has probably a different understanding of ethical use of different software, and it comes down to the person if they want to use AI to cheat or just help them learn. I’m curious, because your background is in bioinformatics, so you have a computer background but also a biology background. Do you see that AI could be beneficial in disciplines other than, say, computer science, as well, when you think of your biology perspective, or maybe in chemistry, or wherever?

DF | So, AI is basically development of lots of software. So, software can be used in many things. So, one of the examples is, right now, AI is being used in the detection of ships in the ocean, in the ocean technology. I had a conversation with one of the emerging start-up companies here, and they were developing AI to detect the ships that were at a distance from one ship to another, so that they can give signals to them on a radar, and they can know which ships, where they are going. So, AI can be in that. 

Then, AI is in automobiles, too, in mechanics right now. There’s a whole car that just drives with just reading the lines on the road. So, AI’s involved there. AI’s also involved in gaming, it’s involved in biology, chemistry. And chemistry, the structure and function prediction that I told you, this software is created by AI that is helping researchers to move into… That’s making their research easier for them to go ahead. Apart from that, AI is everywhere right now. It’s in mining, it’s everywhere.

TO | Interesting. So, I just want to ask, with the artificial intelligence Masters program right now, what do you see with AI in the future as a student that is studying AI itself, what do you see as the future of AI? I had a question like this, like Memorial University, for instance, what do you think this is going to become in the near future?

DF | AI is a big thing. It’s like your whole world is moving into AI right now. They’re moving into making lives easier, and obviously for all domains, like students, for different domains for researchers, for mechanicals, for technicians. So, if I see the future, it’s going to be great, actually. It’s going to be great because it’s going to make life easier for everyone. 

So, how they’re going to make it easier is, you can just walk into, there’s an AI that’s helping you through your retail shopping experience. If you’re walking into fast food, there’s an AI that is taking your order. So, it will happen in the near future.

TO | Interesting. So, I believe you are more excited about it than concerned about it.

DF | Yes, I am excited about it, because sometimes it just blows your mind. Like, ChatGPT did blow my mind. I was like, wow, I can just type in any question and that thing is giving me all the answers. Like, I don’t have to go do Google and then search for the references. I can just type in, I want to search the structure, function, prediction of something. It gives me everything. It gives me the code, too. I don’t have to do any coding, too. 

But obviously, we need to have that knowledge to run the code, then make the coding, and to compile it, and then work on it. But right now, even in the IT industries, people who don’t know how to code, they can just ask ChatGPT, and then ChatGPT can literally give you the written thing. But you should obviously have some knowledge of changing it a bit, and you can manipulate it.

So, AI is like that. And I don’t know if you guys heard about Sophia. It’s a robot that they made, and it’s the first robot that had citizenship of Saudi and India. Yes, so, it’s a whole robot right now, that’s the big topic, too. It’s the first citizen on the Earth, so you can say. And also, you talked about the ethical issues. So, there were questions to her that the people asked, and they said, will you take over the world? And she was like, no, I’m not designed to do that.

VK  | Of course she has to say that, obviously. But tying everything back to higher education, I’m wondering, if you were talking with a university instructor right now, would you have any advice for them on how they could maybe prepare their teaching and their curriculum for artificial intelligence, and how their students will use it in the future?

DF | I think there should be software, like AI, made for them to detect if the student is using AI rightly or not. Because if we can develop ChatGPT, we can develop things for them, too. And like I said, my project, my final-year project, is something that can help the instructors to prepare their lectures. Or easily a student can come, they can upload the professor’s lectures, and they don’t have to read the whole PDF. You’ll just ask the questions from key points, and then you can easily get whatever answer you want. It’s like ChatGPT, but it’s like ChatGPT of your lectures. 

So, that is one of the things we are working on right now. There are different things that my colleagues are working on. They’re working on something for blind people, like hearing the audio, and they can easily learn the way you say it, and stuff like that.

TO | Thank you, Dua. I just really want to learn more about the artificial intelligence program at Memorial University. Are there things that really excite you about the program, like do you have favourite courses, or certain things they do in the program that make you really feel good? We just want to learn more about the program.

DF | I did a lot of research coming here and choosing a university for myself, and there were three universities that were technically offering the semester programme, and Memorial was one of them that I got attracted to. It was because Memorial had a very fast-paced programme, it was 16 months, and I could just finish up very quickly. 

And the courses that Memorial was offering, it was seven core courses and three elective courses. So, the seven that they were offering was based completely on AI, so it involved algorithms, it involved the study of linear algebra, like basic foundations. So, they took me from basic to advanced level, which is very nice for someone who is coming from a different background, like bioinformatics, for example.

There are so many students in my class that are not from an IT background, like one of my friends is from a mining background. So, for students like that, AI was an excellent structure that Memorial offers to students, and this was one of the reasons why all my colleagues got attracted to Memorial, because they were taking us from the fundamental to the advanced. So, it helped us a lot. 

So, I learned a lot of things up till now, and I’m still learning in my last semester. And the most favourite thing, I think, was my image vision course. So, it involved the studies of images and how you can analyse images, how you can train the data of image data, and you can sharpen the image, you can change filters. And there was a lot of stuff.

And then, the second course that I really liked was how AI’s involved in games. So, that’s very nice, because it was a challenging course for me, but then it was something that gave me a vision of what I am studying, and where I can go and move ahead in my future. So, AI, yes, that was one of the things that excited me.

And then, AI itself is a word that whenever you say, I’m doing AI, and they’re like, you’re so intelligent, you’re doing AI. So, that is cool. It feels cool. It feels like I’m doing something big. And it is big, to be very honest.

VK | Yes, I’m sure Timilehin and I are thinking the exact same thing. We read your bio and thought, my goodness, she must be so good. Dua, thank you very, very much for this really interesting interview. We’re reaching the end of our time, unfortunately, but thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

DF | Thank you so much for inviting me. Thank you.

TO | Thank you, Dua. 

Welcome back to the studio. That was a lot of information from Dua. Verena, what a big learning moment from that interview.

VK | Well, Dua had a lot to say about AI. But speaking from the perspective of an international student, she said that AI could help students whose first language is not English to access academic resources better, either by translating into their first languages, or by transcribing text to speech and vice versa.

TO | Absolutely. Accessibility is one of the many strengths of AI that students can leverage. And finally, we have come to the end of the third series of the Learning Technology Coach podcast. We want to say a big thank you to you, our listeners, for sticking with us through the… Indeed, we’ve had a fantastic series. I believe Verena agrees with me on that. But this could never be possible without your support.

VK | Yes, absolutely. We had a great time chatting about AI in higher education. We’ve had a variety of guests that shared their insight into the topic from their perspective. And I think that one of the big conclusions that we can draw from this podcast series is that, at this point in time, nobody is an expert in AI.

Instructors might be concerned about the impacts of AI on higher education and teaching, and it is okay to be concerned. However, there is so much potential in artificial intelligence, and we think that we should embrace it and leverage it to our advantage, rather than refuse to use it.

TO | Absolutely, my friend. And to students out there, you have listened to educators, people who have worked with AI in many capacities, and a student like you talking about many benefits of using AI as students. However, AI must not overtake your efforts in the learning process. For it to be a sound education, it has to be done the right way. You are in control of what you learn. Don’t let AI take that away from you.

VK | Nicely said, Timilehin. And I think that we can leave our listeners to ponder on that. Again, thank you so much for tuning in.

TO | And yes, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our friends from the Media Services production studio of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University. A big shoutout to our producer, Adrian Collins, and the team, Philip Current and Mark Sherlow for their outstanding work in bringing this series to life.

VK | And also, of course, a big thank you to the Learning Technology Coach programme lead, Darlene Flight, and the entire leadership group of the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Until next time. I am Verena.

TO | And I am Timilehin. Bye-bye.

VK | Ciao.

AN | The Learning Technology Coach podcast is a CITL production.

Episode Introduction
Guest Introduction
Using ChatGPT as a Student
Concerns Using AI as a Student
AI Applications in Teaching
The Future of AI in Academics
Memorial's Master of AI Program
Summary - Big Learning Moment!