May 24, 2023

AI and higher education: a Conference to make a difference

On May 15, the Conference on AI in Higher Education was held, a major event co-organized by IVADO and the ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur. As AI-based tools become more accessible, this Conference raised an important question: how to teach in the digital age?

IVADO lives and breathes artificial intelligence (AI). Always on the cutting edge, it closely followed the recent emergence of so-called “generative” AI, which can produce various outputs (text, images, music, etc.) from written prompts.

The consortium paid particular attention to the launch of the ChatGPT in November 2022. The exploits of this powerful chatbot took the world by surprise, eliciting strong reactions from all walks of society.

Known for its many accomplishments related to the responsible deployment of AI, IVADO right away saw the need for careful regulation of ChatGPT and its peers. As the consortium prepared its first initiative on the topic, it was approached by the Québec ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur (MES), whose community is directly and immediately affected by digital tools like ChatGPT.

IVADO and MES thus teamed up to organize the Conference on AI in Higher Education [Journée sur l’IA en enseignement supérieur]. Held on May 15, 2023 at the Westin Hotel in Montreal, this event brought together diverse stakeholders in higher education. Thanks to a compelling program elaborated by IVADO, over 1200 participants had the opportunity to discuss and take stock of the issue at hand.

One conclusion emerged from this Conference: digital tools like ChatGPT are here to stay. Banning them would be counterproductive, as invited speaker Nadia Naffi pointed out.

If we don’t expose our students to these technologies, we contribute to their exclusion from the workforce.

– Nadia Naffi, assistant professor (Université Laval)

Thus, the integration of digital technology in higher education has become unavoidable. All the invited speakers agreed: such an integration will require us to rethink the skills developed by cegep and university curricula to promote critical thinking above all. Similarly, all speakers emphasized the importance of continuing education for teachers and professors in the upcoming digital transition.

This productive conference helped to set the stage for the many subsequent undertakings on the subject that lie ahead, starting with the report of the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation expected at the end of this year.

IVADO is excited to continue its collaboration with the MES and the higher education community to support them in their digital transition. The consortium already boasts a vast training program that can help cegep and university teaching staff to learn more about AI technology.

Press Review

  • L’IA en enseignement : prendre les devants ou prendre du recul? – Radio-Canada
  • Les professeurs devront s’adapter rapidement, alerte une chercheuse – La Presse
  • ChatGPT : des profs de cégep et des chargés de cours tirent la sonnette d’alarme – TVA Nouvelles
  • Enseignement supérieur : jour de rencontre sur l’intelligence artificielle – TVA Nouvelles
  • Faut-il avoir peur de l’intelligence artificielle en éducation ? – La Presse