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Refresh Teaching Special: AI in Teaching and Learning
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AI in Teaching and Learning

A new dimension for students and lecturers

AI tools are quickly becoming a part of the teaching and learning environment in higher education. Students and lecturers are faced with new and (largely) unfamiliar tools for learning, thinking, or creating, which they must now grapple with in their daily university lives. The rapid development and widespread availability of these technologies opens up new possibilities as well as challenges for their use in teaching and raises important ethical and practical questions.

In the upcoming Refresh Teaching Special, ETH faculty members will share their experiences and insights on the use of AI in academic settings. We invite you to participate in this important conversation about the transformative implications and ethical considerations of AI in education.

HG F 30, Audi Max, 3 October 2023, 12:15 – 13:30


Welcome from the Rector Prof. Dr Günther Dissertori



Prof. Dr. Menna El-​Assady ETH AI Center E-Mail senden
Prof. Dr. Margarita Boenig-Liptsin D-GESS E-Mail senden
Nora Schneider D-INFK Data Science Masters E-Mail senden

Photo Gallery

Prof. Dr. Menna El-​Assady (ETH AI Centre)

– Emphasized the necessity of Human-AI interaction, highlighting that humans and AI excel in different areas.
– Advocated for a collaborative approach to identify knowledge gaps, verify human understanding, explain decision-making processes, and     adapt interactively to avoid biases, like those based on gender.
– Posed a Call to Action for Teachers to consider introducing an “AI driver’s license” to educate students on safe AI usage, and to understand students’ mental models regarding AI.
-Urged Learners to refrain from using AI as a quick fix, emphasizing, “There is no criticality without slowness.”

Prof. Dr. Margarita Boenig-Liptsin (D-GESS)

– Expressed concerns regarding the potential of students circumventing learning, gaining incorrect information, and eroding trust in teacher-learner relationships due to AI.
– Stressed the importance of preparing students for a world where AI is integral, mentioning a potential “hidden AI curriculum” that teaches informal lessons about AI and society.
– In FS23, encouraged students to draft a report on their perspectives of AI, emphasizing transparency, reproducibility, explainability, and ethical practices concerning technology.
– Advocated for mindful AI usage and role-modeling responsible AI engagement to students, prompting reflection on the information AI provides versus expectations.

Nora Schneider (Data Science Masters D-INFK)

– Explored the student perspective on AI tools, institutional contexts, and the implications on thinking and learning.
– Compared text-generating AI tools to a “fancy calculator” or a telescope extending vision, stressing the dual role of users as co-authors and audience, hence the responsibility in tool usage.
– Pointed out a potential mismatch between profit-driven companies and the higher education context, hinting at access cost issues.
– Advised critical engagement with AI tools like Chat GPT, which still hallucinate information, urging contemplation on which skills will remain relevant and which may become obsolete due to AI advancements.

AI in Teaching and Learning: Q&A session


The Q&A session raised a wide range of topics relating to the expertise of the three speakers. It touched on the importance of using “Slow Analytics,” emphasizing the need to pause when AI models exhibit uncertainty, thereby valuing the human role in the decision-making process. The discussion also covered the safe applicability of fast analytics. One student shared how the evolving technology has subtly altered their habits, like email composition. The aspiration for next-generation AIs to guide users in deriving answers and understanding semantics for more accurate solutions was voiced. Mention was made of a Swiss initiative akin to OpenAI’s offerings. A participant shared their extensive use of ChatGPT in speeding up work but raised concerns about its potential to hinder the development of critical thinking skills.

A question was asked about the possibility of lecturers using ChatGPT actively as part of course assignments as a tool to improve analysis and thinking.  In response  Prof. el-Assady suggested that she was interested to collect faculty examples of how to integrate ChatGPT into critical thinking exercises in assignments and sharing these exercises amongst other faculty. Prof. Boenig-Liptsin stressed the necessity of embedding ethical thinking in course design, urging the early inculcation of ethical considerations among students regarding technology advancements.The possibility of ETH staff utilizing ChatGPT in their teaching and learning environments was also raised, with the question of whether it was allowed.  A participant also suggested that students could in the future have an AI co-teacher as they worked on course problems. The discussion will go on in future events.