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Towards the AI Era: Students, Teachers and I – Our journey with Generative AI and ChatGPT

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Following the launch of ChatGPT last November, Professor Cecilia Chan—Associate Director, Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL)—has spearheaded research in generative AI (GenAI) within the education sector, providing valuable evidence to inform policy changes. Her immediate response led her to explore the experiences, perceptions, and intentions of Gen Z students as well as Gen X and Gen Y teachers regarding the use of GenAI. 

Professor Chan’s research reveals that Gen Z students are generally optimistic about potential GenAI benefits such as enhanced productivity, efficiency, and personalised learning. They have expressed intentions to use GenAI for various educational purposes. Conversely, Gen X and Gen Y teachers, while acknowledging these benefits, express significant concerns about overreliance and ethical and pedagogical implications. Both groups emphasise the need for proper guidelines and policies to ensure responsible use of AI. 

RobotThis has led to the development of an AI Ecological Education Policy Framework. This framework is organised into three dimensions: pedagogical, governance, and operational. It fosters a nuanced understanding of the implications of AI integration in academic settings, ensuring that all stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities and can make informed decisions.

In the midst of this heated topic, a genuine concern raised was, "Will AI replace or assist teachers in higher education?" It was found while some believe AI may eventually replace teachers, the majority argue that human teachers possess unique qualities, such as critical thinking and empathy, which make them irreplaceable. The study emphasises the importance of social-emotional competencies developed through human interactions, which AI technologies cannot currently replicate. The future of education lies in the synergy between human teachers and AI, where humans and machines work closely together.

The University has been developing plans to respond to the rapid disruption caused by GenAI in education, and CETL has been supporting this strategic direction. These plans include long-term policy considerations on GenAI. To facilitate this, various seminars attracting over 1,200 attendees each have been conducted, and task forces led by Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), as well as discussion forums to engage university stakeholders, have been organised. The goal is to have an AI in education policy in place by next semester, alongside plans to rapidly develop an AI literacy programme for staff and students.

Quotation from Prof Chan


“I believe that the future of AI in education encompasses three essential areas: AI literacy, AI policy, and AI misconduct, or ’AI-giarism’," Professor Chan said.  “AI literacy is crucial for everyone, though specific skills may vary depending on one's role. AI policy should strike a balance between promoting innovation and ensuring ethical practices, while also addressing potential challenges. As for AI-giarism, it is vital to redefine plagiarism in the context of AI-generated content. As we transition into the AI era, where machines and humans may become increasingly intertwined, the prevailing notion suggests that humans should lead and bear ultimate responsibility. Yet, drawing a clear boundary in this intertwined relationship remains a complex task.” 



Prof Cecilia Chan


Professor Cecilia Chan

Professor Cecilia Chan—a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Associate Director, Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), and the soon-to-be director of the newly structured Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre (TALIC)—possesses a PhD in Image Signal Processing, a field of engineering. With experience in both engineering and education, she embodies the concept of transdisciplinarity.

Currently, Professor Chan is collaborating with 11 local universities and numerous overseas institutions, including the University of Sydney, UCL, and the University of Oxford, on AI in education, with a particular focus on AI literacy.


Keynote Demo

Extended Reading

Click the following links to read the relevant journal articles written by Professor Cecilia Chan on ChatGPT and AI technologies in education:

Chan, C.K.Y. (2023). A Comprehensive AI Policy Education Framework for University Teaching and Learning. https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.00280

Chan, C.K.Y., & Hu, W. (2023). Students’ Voices on Generative AI: Perceptions, Benefits, and Challenges in Higher Education. https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.00290
Chan, C. K. Y., & Tsi, L. H. Y. (2023). The AI Revolution in Education: Will AI Replace or Assist Teachers in Higher Education? [Preprint]. arXiv. https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.01185
Chan, C. K. Y., & Zhou, W. (2023). Deconstructing Student Perceptions of Generative AI (GenAI) through an Expectancy Value Theory (EVT)-based Instrument [Preprint]. arXiv. https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.01186  

Chan, C. K. Y., & Lee, K. K. W. (2023). The AI Generation Gap: Are Gen Z Students More Interested in Adopting Generative AI Such as ChatGPT in Teaching and Learning than Their Gen X and Millennial Generation Teachers? https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.02878