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Teaching in the Age of AI

by Stacey M. Johnson, Michael Coley, Joe Bandy, John Bradley, and Ole Molvig

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Cite this guide: Johnson, S.M., Coley, M., Bandy, J., Bradley, J., Molvig, O. (2023). Teaching in the Age of AI. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.
This guide is in progress. Check back regularly for updates and new information!

Across higher education, there is increasing concern about the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) for teaching and learning. What dilemmas does AI pose for our courses and assignments? How might it change how students learn to write and learn through writing? How might we respond with effective educational strategies?

In February 2023, the Center for Teaching, the Writing Studio, and the A&S AI Grand Challenge Initiative co-hosted a workshop to begin a dialogue about the future of teaching writing in the age of AI. In this teaching guide, we will draw on video from that event and broaden the discussion to include resources and questions from a variety of sources. This guide will explore:

  • What is AI and where can it be found?
  • How can I harness AI tools in my teaching to improve student learning?
  • How can I craft assignments that deter unauthorized AI use?
  • How does academic integrity relate to AI tools?
  • What resources are there for instructors who want to engage with AI tools?

In this video, Joe Bandy gives an introduction to AI in the context of teaching and learning in higher education.

What is AI and where can it be found?

AI tools are the newest addition to the list of technologies that have impacted higher education and, for the most part, faculty are not panicking. The 1970s saw the advent of calculators in the classroom which changed the way people thought about math instruction. In the 1990s, spellcheck and autocorrect arrived to help us proofread, and Google added autocomplete in 2004. For most of us, these technologies are now an everyday part of our work lives. Language teachers have been working with and against Google Translate since 2006 with extensive research and advice published since then on how to best use the tool.

And now, as of November 2022, ChatGPT is the newest tool to come into the spotlight. The GPT in ChatGPT stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer”, referring to a type of machine learning called a neural network  (learn more here or here) in which a computer learns to perform some task by analyzing training examples. In this case, the training data used by ChatGPT 3.5 is a dataset that includes 570GB of data from sources like books, Wikipedia, articles, and other pieces of writing on the internet up to 2021. The training methods for ChatGPT 4.0 has not been revealed as of yet. ChatGPT is now a famous name because it is a public facing tool that allows anyone to generate text based on prompts for free (although a paid version is also available).

As Ole Molvig describes in the next video, ChatGPT differs from typical internet searches in one key way. Search engines like Google sift through internet data to find the information the user requests, whereas ChatGPT attempts to produce a plausible or coherent response without regard for whether it exists in the data. In Ole’s example from the workshop, when he asked Google “Who is Ole Molvig?”, his search results included various pages that directed him to university websites and other real information. When he asked ChatGPT “Who is Ole Molvig?”, he received a plausible, but untrue and wholly fabricated response about how Ole Molvig was a 15th century Danish artist, complete with fabricated biography and notable works. ChatCPT can produce lots of good-looking but ultimately untrue text including computer code!

In the last few weeks, common internet search engines like Bing and Google have begun debuting AI add-ons in an attempt to blend the best of both kinds of technologies.


How can I harness AI tools in my teaching to improve student learning?

In this video, Ole Molvig explains why instructors should work with AI to increase student learning and walks through how to do so.


How can I craft assignments that deter unauthorized AI use?

In this video, John Bradley explores how to create a safe, welcoming learning environment that teaches students to use their own voice rather than relying on AI.


How does academic integrity relate to AI tools?

At Vanderbilt, instructors determine what kinds of outside assistance are allowed or not allowed in their courses. Be clear in your syllabus what tools you expect students to use and how students should engage them. For more information about crafting syllabus policies, check out our teaching guide on the topic.

Even though AI is new to the teaching and learning scene, Vanderbilt’s Honor Code already has a provision for giving and/or receiving unauthorized aid that covers any unauthorized technology. If faculty do not expressly tell students that technologies like ChatGPT are allowed, then that technology would fall under the “unauthorized assistance” clause as a possible violation of the honor code.

For those looking for ways to detect AI writing, that can be challenging. Much like plagiarism detectors, there are tools that can find similarities or patterns but no foolproof way to detect AI-written work. Traditional plagiarism checkers work by comparing text in a student’s paper to other existing text it has in the program’s database. These tools are looking for the similarity of exact, specific pieces of text from students’ papers compared to its source data. This method of comparing similarity does not work with AI-generated text because, fundamentally, this AI text is being newly generated. If you use an AI detector, keep in mind that these tools should not be the main determination of academic dishonesty and will never be perfect.

Here are a few examples of AI detection tools:


AI Tools

If you want to explore AI tools, there are many to choose from. Some that produce text, some that produce images, and more!

  • ChatGPT is a text generator based on training data through 2021. Find it here:


  • Bing search with ChatGPT. Find it out more and signup for the waitlist here:
    • This collaboration between Microsoft’s search engine and ChatGPT has three options for “tone of responses”:
      • More Creative – Responses are original and imaginative, creating surprise and entertainment for you.
      • More Balanced – Responses are reasonable and coherent, balancing accuracy and creativity in conversation.
      • More Precise – Responses are factual and concise, prioritizing accuracy and relevancy for you.





  • AutoDraw is a basic drawing tool (think MS Paint) that uses AI to change user drawings into higher quality visuals. Find it here:


  • GitHub Copilot helps programmers write code and translate code into other programming languages. Find it here:


  • Character.AI allows users to chat with chatbots based on historical, fictional, or contemporary figures. Find it here:


  • State of the Union Presidential Rebuttals allows users to pick any two Presidents in history to offer rebuttals to each others’ State of the Union speeches. Find it here:



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