“The opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence are currently being discussed everywhere,” says Martin Ebner, head of Educational Technology at TU Graz and a researcher in the field of technology-enhanced teaching, summarising the starting point for his latest MOOC project. “We wanted to temporarily suspend discussion and look at what is technically possible at the moment in practice.” No sooner said than done – or rather: let an AI do it.
The researchers used as a template the course “Societech: Society in the Context of Information Technology”, in which experts talk about the influence of digitalisation on their respective fields – and which has been successfully running for years, and had a new edition of different online tools designed that are AI-supported and freely available.
The online course "Societech: Society in the Context of Information Technology" can be found online on the iMoox platform from May 15.
Right at the very beginning there was the question about the content of the course, which was of course also answered by the AI itself. With a wide variety of prompts – i.e. hints and questions from the researchers – the AI-supported systems developed the content of the course, the texts, the audio contributions and even video contributions including talking avatars. “And even the quiz questions to check what has been learned come from an AI,” Martin Ebner tells us. The finished course, which can be subscribed to online from 15th May, will then also be checked by experts for correctness of content and evaluated in detail.
The researcher’s conclusion: “As long as the content does not go into any technical depth, the systems work surprisingly well. The expected buzzwords also appear. The results are just sometimes a bit strange in terms of focus and wording,” reports Martin Ebner. But these problems could be easily solved by means of prompts and improvement requests from the researchers. But when it comes to depth, the AI reaches its limits: “That’s when it gets very, very thin.”
By the way, this applies to all forms of presentation. The AI can already be used very well to support both text, audio, image and video. “It’s only with the German language that the avatars in the video contributions have their problems – the lip movements are not in sync and you can see it.”
A Basis for Discussion
By the way, both very good and less successful contributions can be seen in the course. This is because the course is intended to create a basis for discussion. “We want to be transparent with our participants about how our content is generated and allow them to discuss the features by which AI-generated content can be recognised. It would be nice if artificial intelligence could lead to new creativity in teaching and not be simply banned.”
Incidentally, the AI-generated course is not intended to remain a one-off action. Martin Ebner plans to redesign or adapt it again and again over the years and thus document and make transparent the respective state of affairs and especially the changes and progress in the field of artificial intelligence.