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AI Policy Left for Faculty to Decide

Last year, one of the biggest worries of educators on USD’s main campus was the use of AI programs by students. This year, AI regulations were added to the syllabi of many classes all across campus. 

Now that more faculty have begun familiarizing themselves with the capabilities made available by AI, some professors are beginning to treat AI as a tool  similar to other highly used websites and sources.

Dr. Kurt Hackemer, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Provost and professor said that AI is in a very formative state. Hackemer mentioned that faculty want to see how their classes can benefit from it.

“The consensus among the faculty is that AI is changing so fast, that the faculty would prefer to have the freedom to experiment to figure out how to use this as a tool in their classrooms,” Hackemer said.

In the coming years, it may be possible for students to specialize their studies in AI at USD with new programs that would entirely be focused around the technology’s usage.

“We have curriculum proposals moving forward right now, the Beacom School of Business for example, is coming up with specializations and degree programs that are all about AI,” Hackemer said.

Hackemer says that in AI’s current state of development, there is no need for a policy on AI, as anything that can be done with it falls under the umbrella of various different policies already set in place. 

He believes that a lack of one overall policy gives faculty the necessary freedom to utilize the tools in however they feel works best for their class, whether that be a large role or none at all. 

“There are some classes on campus where AI is banned entirely and others where it is encouraged,” Hackemer said. 

Aidan Kellen, a student at USD, said that none of his classes have made the switch to AI yet, and they all ban the usage of such tools.

“Every class that I have had, on the first day it was made clear to us that AI is not to be used in any way,” Kellen said.

Dr. Travis Loof, a professor at USD, says AI is a great tool that will continue to grow in classes across campus. 

“Ultimately, in my classes at USD, we will keep slowly integrating AI as long as we keep what is important at the center of any decision about how to use it, what is important is keeping humans at the center of any decision,” Loof said.  

Loof introduces students to AI tools early on, so they learn the skills he deems as necessary skills. Tools that, for many, are unfamiliar to students. 

“In the second week of classes, all of my students write an AI use policy for our class using AI. This is a great activity that helps students understand all of the potential of AI, as well as how much AI can get wrong,” Loof said.

While the use of AI continues to vary across USD’s campus, it is currently left to faculty to decide how they use it in their classroom.