The Age of Generative AI at Gettysburg College

By Laurel Bennett, Features Editor

Melissa Forbes and Josef Brandauer (Photos provided)

Melissa Forbes and Josef Brandauer (Photos provided)

Brandauer serves as Director of the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning (JCCTL). This center provides faculty members with a multitude of resources to encourage student engagement and participation. The JCCTL also provides grants and workshops for faculty members, with many of the workshops now centering around AI.

“We have a mission to help people become more effective teachers,” Brandauer said. “There are tons of colleagues on campus that have really deep levels of knowledge and skills for supporting students, thinking about digital learning, and bringing mental health strategies in a classroom.”

Currently, a central component of the JCCTL is the formation of the “Teaching and Learning in the Age of genAI” website. This website provides extensive background information about AI, and it details what resources such ChatGPT are and how they function. The website has garnered national attention and was recently featured in The New York Times in an article titled “How Schools can Survive (and Maybe Even Thrive) with AI This Fall.”

Another central goal of the website is to help professors determine what their stance towards AI should be. This reveals open, conditional, restricted and closed approaches to AI that can be outlined in syllabi. Additionally, the website includes a section titled “Do my homework, genAI” which shows Forbes and Brandauer using genAI tools to complete sample homework assignments from Gettysburg College professors.

Forbes emphasized the importance of professors outlining their generativeAI policies in their syllabi, and she held a workshop on creating syllabi in the age of AI.

“I did [a workshop] on the syllabus as an equity tool and how faculty members can present the information on their policies to help make sure that all of our students are having a good and successful start of the semester,” Forbes said.

Other colleges have turned to Gettysburg and the JCCTL website to see how AI can be utilized. Instead of entirely resisting the utilization of AI, many professors across the nation are looking for ways in which it can be positively used.

“It has been really fun to see that we get thousands and thousands of hits from other institutions, colleges and universities because of their linking to our website,” Brandauer explained.

Forbes echoed Brandauer’s sentiments, saying, “It was really surprising when the website started blowing up outside of Gettysburg.”

At Gettysburg College, the utilization of AI differs between departments and individual professors. Brandauer credits Gettysburg’s liberal arts education for allowing such an interdisciplinary approach to how genAI should be regarded.

Although the semester is underway and professors have already outlined their expectations with regard to AI, Forbes hopes to continue conducting sessions for Gettysburg College faculty members. These sessions center around AI with a recognition of the fact that many employers want to hire employees who have worked with ChatGPT in the past.

“In April, which was months ago, talked to about 1,100 employers who were hiring. 91% of them said that they wanted people who had experience using ChatGPT,” Forbes said.

As colleges continue to praise originality in student’s work, the way AI gets navigated will likely continue to evolve. Brandauer, Forbes and other members of the JCCTL are committed to equipping faculty members at Gettysburg with the resources needed to navigate these changing platforms.

This article originally appeared on page 10 of the October 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

Author: Laurel Bennett

Laurel Bennett ‘24 is the Features Editor for The Gettysburgian. She previously worked as a staff writer for the news and features sections. Laurel is a political science major and an English minor from Carlisle, PA. Outside of The Gettysburgian, she is a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, serves as co-president of Pre-Law club, and is an avid horse-back rider.

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