A guide to using AI in your polytechnic studies

18 Apr 2024

Generative AI tools, especially, have become new darlings of efficiency as they can take on labour-intensive tasks, analyse large chunks of information or data, and produce quality content within seconds. “Gen AI is here to stay and will be as ubiquitous as Google down the road,” said Mr Mark Nivan Singh, deputy director of pedagogy at SP’s Department of Educational Development. But experts say overreliance on AI could result in your losing the ability to think critically or solve problems on your own. And, deft as these tools are, AI sometimes produces entirely fabricated or inaccurate content. “Generative AI makes it even more tempting for students to ‘copy and paste’ without fact-checking or learning the concept, and submit the work as their own,” said Ms Shirley Williams, senior adviser of learning and teaching at NP. SP’s Mr Singh said: “Lecturers now use generative AI personal tutors for students needing more assistance with their learning. Students can use the suggested prompts provided by their lecturers to learn concepts they are struggling with, and test themselves by getting the gen AI to generate questions until their learning gaps are closed.” Ms Loh Chuu Yi, deputy principal (academic) at NYP, said students could identify areas that are lacking in their coursework and get generative AI to help them. Learning to use generative AI tools ethically – as well as learning to spot its gaps in information and biases, among other things – will help you greatly. In some polytechnics, the use of AI is melded into existing modules students take as part of their diploma. SP students must take a 15-hour module called Artificial Intelligence And Its Impact, in which they are introduced to common AI tools, and are taught to write basic prompts and how to declare the use of such tools in their assignments. Lecturers are increasingly using AI in areas ranging from automated grading to analysing student data, and providing AI tutors or intelligent chatbots that help with assignments 24/7. At SP, for instance, lecturers in the Diploma of Optometry, Chemical Engineering and Facilities Management tap on AI for virtual simulations. Lecturers at SP can also tap on AI-powered tools to create practice activities, online videos and interactive online lessons, said Mr Singh.

[The Straits Times]

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