Meet Pierre Dal Zotto: an esteemed Assistant Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management, and coordinator of the institution’s Digital Organizations and Society department. With a rich academic background from renowned institutions like Staffordshire University and Emlyon Business School, Pierre is currently a PHD candidate in Management Sciences and Information Systems.
We sat down with Pierre to explore his passion for incorporating new technologies and generative AI tools into the educational landscape.
When and how did you start incorporating generative AI into your teaching modules?
Truth be told, I integrated it quite early on! As an Information Systems professor, I took interest in ChatGPT upon its release in late 2022. Not so much because of its technical prowess, as I’ve come across more advanced technologies in recent years given the industry I work in. What distinguished ChatGPT from other tools is its availability at scale and the rapid rate at which the public embraced it.
From the start, we explored its potential and the challenges it presented, such as its potential misuse as a tool for student cheating.
We integrated generative AIs into our digital and scientific culture course as early as January. We’ve also been actively encouraging students to experiment with them.
Together with a group of professors, we shared an internal user guide that outlines the potential applications of AI in our curriculum in June 2023.
Generative AI has many educational applications. The initial step, naturally, being its adoption by teachers themselves! By harnessing these tools efficiently, professors can streamline tasks like content creation, course design, and question formulation. It’s almost like an assistant!
While integrating it presently may be time-consuming because of the initial learning curve, it’s poised to be a valuable asset in the long-term.
What are the main takeaways you want your students to grasp regarding generative AI?
We’ve integrated AI into the scientific and digital culture of our students. It’s in Grenoble Ecole de Management’s DNA to stay ahead of technological advancements, ensuring our curriculum remains cutting-edge.
Our primary objective is not just to introduce a specific tool but to provide a holistic overview of it: its origins, functionality, as well as the stakes that are associated with it. We provide our students with comprehensive AI guides and instruct them on AI best practices and real-world applications.
Central to our AI instruction is the emphasis on critical thinking. It’s crucial for students to have a firm understanding of the tools they’re using, the context in which they were developed, and their inherent limitations. The ethical issues and biases of AIs have been present for some time now. Scholars like Antonio Casili have been highlighting these issues for over a decade.
At Grenoble Ecole de Management, AI is authorized in all exams and workshops by default, unless explicitly stated otherwise. We advocate for its judicious and fair use to enhance academic work.
And how are your students adopting this new technology?
Contrary to initial expectations, we are seeing a fairly typical adoption curve. Some of our students started using generative AI immediately after the release of ChatGPT, while others have been using it cautiously or adopting it gradually.
Some students even refuse to work with this tool, fearing it might compromise the integrity of their work. Generally speaking, we’re still a long way from the complete integration that some had predicted.
However, we are continuously implementing policies to incentivize our students to use generative AI. Collaboration between different educational institutions on this subject is still in its infancy, leaving room for improvement.
In terms of doctoral programs, the situation is more opaque. There is no regulation on the use of generative AI for some of them. Simply because it’s almost impossible to detect! It’s a new problem for us. While we have efficient detection software for plagiarism, such a system doesn’t —may I say cannot — exist for generative AI.
What role do you envision AI playing in the future of education?
AI is a multifaceted tool for professors. I believe the role of a professor can be delineated into four dimensions: instruction, academic research and community engagement, administrative duties, and industry liaison bridging the gap with the corporate world. Generative AI, which is mostly proficient in content creation, may play the role of “super-assistant” across these spheres.
From a pedagogical point of view, AI can offer support in producing feedback and questions. But its most notable advantage might be its ability to swiftly generate supportive materials, such as PowerPoints. This could be a game-changer for teachers, saving them a significant amount of time.
On the research side, it can be likened to an editorial assistant. Although generative AI’s capabilities in data processing remain limited, it has the potential to “engage” with a scientific body of work and quickly produce a summary.
And well, if we venture further into future possibilities, imagine feeding all of Einstein’s writing to an AI model. After a few weeks, you could talk to a virtual counterpart of Einstein. But, of course, right now the technology is far from being there.
It’s also very hard to develop: OpenAI’s investment in developing ChatGPT surpasses France’s national education budget. The current fusion of education and generative AI is a frontier of untapped potential. But it necessitates rigorous integration from all stakeholders in the educational sphere.