The University of Sussex Artificial Intelligence Community of Practice Launch Event

by Helen Morley, Learning Technologist, University of Sussex

Few things have dominated the conversations in Higher Education like the emergence of Generative Artificial Intelligence has, and the past eighteen months have been ringing with the topic. From the whats, to the whys (and why nots), through the hows and the whens, so many of us want to know more about these exciting tools and if – or rather how – they will impact our work.

An image created with generative artificial intelligence, showing slightly uncanny-looking university students in a futuristic campus. Large drones fly in the sky overhead and a robot is in the foreground, being studied by a student with a clipboard.
George Robinson used Adobe Firefly to create this AI image using the prompts: university, AI, community.

The Educational Enhancement team at Sussex has been a key contributor to these conversations; we have researched and reported on the opportunities and challenges across the university and have delivered sessions to familiarise colleagues with the tools, including how they could be adopted to benefit staff and students.

In December we launched our Community of Practice with an in-person event (live streamed for colleagues who required it) on campus. It was a drizzly day and we were overjoyed to have so many people join us. The launch was so popular we actually ran out of tea, which is a misdemeanour we promise never to repeat!

We started with some time to mingle over the mince pies before George Robinson (Senior Learning Technologist) and Dr Sam Hemsley (Academic Developer) introduced the project. They shared information about what the EE team had been doing, what we were witnessing in other universities, and what Sussex colleagues had told us about their own perceived AI literacy. Professor Michael Luck (Deputy VC and Provost) then set some further context by giving both a whistlestop tour of recent AI history and his own impressions of how Sussex was embracing the technology from his perspective as a new member of our community with particular interest and expertise in the field. I think many of us were surprised to learn just how rooted in AI the University of Sussex has been over the decades, including hosting the third annual conference on Simulation and Adaptive Behaviour back in 1994.

A group of participants in the AI Community of Practice launch event, photographed from behind. At the top-right of the photo, Professor Luck is standing and presenting. A slide projected on the wall shows a newspaper headline that reads "A.I. 'Could Wipe Out Humanity'".
Dozens of Sussex staff attended the launch of the AI Community of Practice held in the Open Learning Space in the Library in December 2024. Here is Professor Michael Luck, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Sussex and founding Director of King’s College London’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence, giving a whistle-stop tour of the recent history of Artificial Intelligence.
Photo: Dr Katie Piatt, Educational Enhancement.

We were really fortunate to have members of teaching staff volunteer to share their experiences and ideas of using AI in their work and we heard from three of them, representing a good range of subject area and focus. These “lightning talks” were: 

  • “Teaching about AI in society” by Chirantan Chatterjee;
  • “Using generative AI in assessment” by Giovanni Contreras Garcia; and
  • “Exploring the role of AI tools and their potential impact on international students” by Hengyi Wang.

Professor Chirantan Chatterjee teaches Artificial Intelligence and Policies for Technological Revolutions in the University of Sussex Business School; his talk gave us a view into how the ethics of AI are taught which gave all attendees food for thought regarding our own use of the technology.

Dr Giovanni Contreras Garcia teaches Product Design in the School of Engineering and Informatics. His talk explained how students use AI to create sketches for their projects which they evaluate and adapt to suit their purpose. This is an interesting point to consider in subject like product design where a lot of time can be spent trying to draft and tweak ideas at a much slower rate than the ideas come. It seems that using AI to support with this process allows the students to think more dynamically.

Hengyi Wang is the EDI Champion in USBS and a Senior Academic Success Advisor.  Her talk was a concise exploration of how International Students in particular are using AI to access course material and improve their work for submission. Hengyi relayed how for many students the use of assistive AI is considered the norm and the tools are not used subversively or dishonestly. This valuable insight was deservedly one of the final words on the subject that day: the students are already making use of AI to supplement their studies and it’s time we learn how to do so also.

The next University of Sussex AI CoP meeting will be on 18th March. Sign up here to let us know you’re coming. The meeting will focus on sharing approaches to talking with students about AI for learning and assessment. Email EE@sussex.ac.uk if you’d like to give a short (5 minute) lighting talk on the topic!

We asked what people wanted from the CoP and what they could bring.  See the Reflective Padlet with responses from attendees. See also our Collaborative Padlet with examples, articles and ideas for AI in Higher Education.

The AI and academic integrity guidance page has been updated new module and assessment levels statements on the permissible use of generative AI outputs in assessment submissions.

Educational Enhancement have AI and education related workshops scheduled over the next few weeks, notably ‘Assessment in an AI World’ and ‘Talking with Students about AI’.

To find out more about Educational Enhancement, please visit: staff.sussex.ac.uk/teaching/enhancement

Posted in AI, Educational Enhancement, Learning Technologies, Technology Enhanced Learning
One comment on “The University of Sussex Artificial Intelligence Community of Practice Launch Event
  1. Serena Mitchell says:

    Do register for the Business School’s Festival of SustAInable Education on 8 May 2024. More details here. AI community of practice members will be very welcome https://www.tickettailor.com/events/universityofsussex7/1166853

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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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