Decorative image of robot helping 2D person schedule tasksThe artificialintelligence boom has begun. 

Concerns about the impact of generative-AI usage within higher education, particularly when used in teaching and learning, are valid as it is critical to maintain academic integrity and data privacy/security while fostering students’ critical-thinking skills.

However, generative-AI resources offer opportunities to decrease time spent on repetitive tasks without threatening the values Roadrunners hold dear.

Metropolitan State University of Denver is hosting the first of four AI workshops to introduce concepts to employees March 29. Ahead of the workshop, here are five ways employees can safely experiment using AI.

Automating administrative tasks 

For those looking to schedule meetings, organize events and manage email communications more efficiently, automation provides many opportunities for virtual assistance. 

Good resources: Microsoft Power Automate is a great option for MSU Denver employees because it is already connected to the other Microsoft applications many use daily.  

Assisting with initial research 

The research process can be supported by using generative-AI tools to gather initial insights and identify trends. Depending on the prompt, these resources can provide summaries and links to relevant publications, helping employees who are beginning scholarly exploration to identify key scholarships for further reading. In addition to gathering brief synopses, most generative-AI tools provide article links as well, making the search for PDFs to download more manageable. 

Good resources: ChatGPT and Gemini are user-friendly tools for kicking off the research process and finding sources for further inquiry. 

Supporting meeting facilitation 

Productive meetings require agendas, and AI is a great tool for creating this structure. Create a prompt that includes the length of the meeting and the topics that need to be covered, and the generative-AI resource provides a clear agenda. Also, these products can help facilitate brainstorming sessions by providing prompts and discussion topics. 

Good resources: Microsoft Power Automate for scheduling and reminders. ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot and Gemini are great for generating meeting agendas or facilitating brainstorming sessions.  

Enhancing course materials 

Generative AI can help craft fresh course content by generating supplementary materials such as lecture outlines, study guides, discussion questions and additional readings. While human input is crucial for idea generation, AI can create engaging prompts and writing exercises for students. 

Good resources: ChatGPT and Copilot can review uploaded (or copy-and-pasted) materials and assess and use this information to generate additional course materials to enhance teaching and learning.   

Generating administrative documents 

A meaningful, heartfelt letter of recommendation for a student is not something ChatGPT can do well because, frankly, it is not human. However, documents such as memos, policy proposals and memorandums of understanding can be drafted using generative AI. AI can provide the standard boilerplate language, and it can provide an outline of key components. Users will still need to plug in the specifics and revise to ensure accuracy, but much of the common language used in these documents has been created using generative AI. 

Good resources: Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT seem to be a bit more adept at generating these documents than Gemini is now. Even if/when things change, however, the process will remain similar across these tools.  

Critical safety information  

  • As you explore these tools to support your day-to-day work, please maintain a commitment to ethical usage, data privacy and benevolence. 
  • Build your awareness of copyright and data-protection expectations as they relate to generative AI.  
  • When using these tools, particularly free ones, avoid using copyrighted work, sensitive information and institutional data. For example, if your syllabus is not something you want others to copy, do not add it to chats with ChatGPT or Gemini. 

More information on the way 

The University is developing improved communication, recommendations and best practices on generative-AI use, but these technologies are changing rapidly. Please stay tuned to the Early Bird and other resources for updates and guidance.