Category: Instructional Design

Keywords in higher ed: AI authoring tools

Keywords in higher ed: AI authoring tools

During my graduate degree coursework in composition and rhetoric, I came across a book titled Keywords in Writing Studies, edited by Paul Heiker and my professor himself, Peter Vandenberg.

The book’s concept is given in its title: Keywords provides a fresh and concise array of essay entries, each packed with heavy research dedicated to unpacking an operative referent in the realm according to its related studies, theories, and applications.

As a student that has kept nearly every required textbook, I can reflect on the utility of such a cogent textbook concept, and now would like to transfer its reader-friendly approach to the great wide realm of instructional technologies—to start, within in the smaller realm of AI authoring tools for teaching and learning.

I anticipate my keywords approach will be much messier and less formal in scholarship, as the body of published works, studies, and opinions on AI authoring is sprawling and immense. However, the goal is to offer an ongoing collection of resources that facilitate your own research and dialogue around important questions about technology in teaching and learning.

With this keywords approach in mind, let’s begin!

AI authoring tools & learning

AI authoring tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E3, and the like, pose immediate questions for rethinking how to teach core learning tasks and skills, particularly those assigning students to compose original work.

Though there is no direct teaching solution to safeguard against cheating, and worse, whether a student is actually demonstrating their learning, many conversations in higher education circle back to how assessments are designed for students to think critically about information and acquire digital literacy. Such classroom-rooted strategies and conversations about AI authoring are also recommended by the leading product developing company in AI writing detection, Turnitin.

Difficulties in regulating AI use & ethical concerns

Studies have noted areas of AI use that pose challenges for demarcating its ethical scope and regulation. Key questions implicated by AI machine learning and data science include responsibility for use, bias and discrimination within development, transparency in development, and responsibility for stakeholder action or policy.

From a corporate stance, the move towards regulation is difficult, if not impossible, as implementation of restrictions cannot be imposed on a scale that corresponds with its users. Though statements and calls to pause development have been made, much AI development is within the private sector, and those that might be in the position to draft such regulations do not necessarily understand the nature and scope of the technological developments to impose effective boundaries.

Ethical considerations with AI authoring tools that more directly relate to teaching and learning include biases against non-English speakers and replications that bypass creative attribution, such as the popular query of Greg Rutkowski styled outputs that mimic his aesthetic without his consent.

Academic integrity & teaching with AI

Because of its dominance in the assessment tools arena and Loyola’s adoptions of several products, Turnitin resources on academic integrity and AI writing are within the purview of technology-based assessment in higher education. Their latest webinar offering on how to include AI in institutional policy offers a puzzle map for approaching the complex issue of AI.

An Exigence for Faculty Development

A silver lining that AI authoring brings to our attention is the prompt for enriching faculty development through dialogue and creative learning design.

Though some find AI authoring tools a cause for panic, many specialized faculty in the fields of medicine and sciences are excited about the opportunities AI provides for teaching and learning.

Reflections in faculty panels, such as this one at Ole Miss University of Mississippi or professional higher ed groups, such as the AI in Education Google group.

While Loyola Instructional Technology and Research Support does not decide on the adoption of learning tools for the institution, we do invite ideas for teaching strategies, further research, and learning designs.

The Jesuit Subtext of Indiana Jones in Higher Education

The Jesuit Subtext of Indiana Jones in Higher Education

Summer movie season is here, and many are looking forward to the new film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. For those not familiar with the character of Indiana Jones, he is a well-known adventurer who travels the world in search of artifacts and knowledge. He is an iconic figure who has captured the imagination of generations of fans, and his exploits have been the subject of numerous movies, books, and games. Also, one could argue that the character of Indiana Jones has ties to the Jesuit identity in higher education.

The Jesuits are a religious order within the Catholic Church that was founded in the 15th century. They are known for their commitment to education and their emphasis on intellectual rigor and critical thinking. Jesuit universities and colleges are renowned for their academic excellence and their focus on social justice and service to others.

Indiana Jones was created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, two filmmakers who were influenced by their experiences at Jesuit-founded institutions. Lucas attended the University of Southern California, which was co-founded by the Jesuits, and Spielberg attended California State University, an institution with roots in Jesuit founders. Both men, who fall into the category of being film auteurs, were exposed to Jesuit ideals and values during their time at these institutions, and they incorporated these ideas into the development of the character and stories of Indiana Jones.

One of the most prominent examples of the Jesuit influence on Indiana Jones is his commitment to education and scholarship. Throughout the Indiana Jones movies, we see him engaging in academic pursuits, such as teaching, researching ancient artifacts, deciphering ancient languages, and consulting with experts in various fields. His dedication to scholarship reflects the Jesuit belief in the importance of education as a means of personal growth and social transformation.

Another example of the Jesuit influence on Indiana Jones is his commitment to social justice and service to others. In many of the movies, we see him fighting against oppressive regimes, defending the rights of marginalized communities, and working to preserve cultural heritage. These actions are consistent with the Jesuit emphasis on social justice and their belief in the importance of using knowledge and skills for the greater good.

Finally, the character of Indiana Jones embodies the Jesuit ideal of the “whole person,” which emphasizes the importance of developing not just the mind, but also the body and spirit. Throughout the movies, we see him engaging in physical activities, such as climbing, fighting, and running, and we also see him grappling with questions of faith and spirituality. These elements of the character reflect the Jesuit belief in the importance of developing all aspects of the self to achieve a well-rounded and fulfilling life.

Indiana Jones is a fascinating character who has captured the hearts and minds of people worldwide. But his ties to the Jesuit identity in higher education make him even more interesting and complex. By incorporating Jesuit ideals and values into the character of Indiana Jones, Lucas, and Spielberg created a hero who is not just an adventurer, but also a scholar, a social justice advocate, and a person who strives to achieve balance and wholeness in his life. These powerful messages can inspire us all to live more meaningful and purposeful lives as well as become better educators.

Teaching strategies for “the ChatGPT wave”: Transferable lessons from proctoring tools

Teaching strategies for “the ChatGPT wave”: Transferable lessons from proctoring tools

Read time: 5 minutes

In my popular culture research, a cultural movement often carries the referent of a “wave.” Example: The Hallyu movement of the 1980s to 2000s (debatable depending on the scholar you consult) refers to a “wave” of Korean popular culture beyond the nation’s borders.

In my day-to-day work, I might use the referent “wave” to refer to the conversation en vogue in the fields of teaching, learning, and academic integrity: in this instance, let’s use the referent “the ChatGPT wave.”

But first, a quick blast from the past [three years] for context:

Higher education conversations about assessment in digital learning environments rarely avoid a debate on academic integrity. From my experience—and likely yours—this specific debate maps itself on a spectrum ranging somewhere from “enforcing academic integrity with the latest and most stringent means available” to “recognizing no perfect enforcement is possible and does not seem productive to ensure student learning”.

My emphasis here is on two points, to be revisited very soon: (1) that no flawless enforcement of academic honesty is possible with a tool; and (2) that a fixation on enforcement of not cheating rather than a focus on fostering student learning leads to costly outcomes for all.

Perhaps this diversity of positions on assessment with academic integrity emerged rather sharply during the emergency move to online learning per the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate legacy might be summed up in some phases: faculty unrest for a technology-based solution to prevent students from cheating, a hasty adoption of an inadequate solution, uncomfortable and stressful assessments for both its administrating faculty and its examinee students using said inadequate solution, then a quick abandonment of said inadequate solution due to privacy violations (some of which are undergoing legal disputes, well within our region).

As we embark on the amazing frontier of AI (artificial intelligence) authoring tools, let us brace ourselves for the ChatGPT wave by remembering to prioritize student learning rather than hunting for cheaters. Here are some teaching strategies for AI authoring tools like ChatGPT, very much informed by our recent misadventures with proctoring tools:

Remember that a tool is not a human. Just like the highly touted and speedily adopted proctoring tools of yesteryear cannot guarantee or completely safeguard cheating by a human student, ChatGPT and AI tools share an obvious quality: ChatGPT is not a human student. A human demonstrates learning for a specific learning outcome, whether by sharing a sentiment or committing an error that is irrevocably human. Looking for signs of life might mean creating space for students to show their human selves, perhaps by engaging conversation about something fun to them, or posing a writing prompt that is more specific to their periphery of being, or assigning something creative or audio recorded. If you assign work that is general and without connection to your students, expect machine-like responses.

Revise your learning objectives and corresponding activities for someone who wants to learn. As an instructor, I find my essential job description, whether I am teaching professional business writing or instructional design, is to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for my students. Many times, essential charge prompts reflection and revision of my coursework and assessment designs. Rising to the occasion of facilitating meaningful learning is an easy move when students want to learn. National enrollment in higher education has seen better days, so being interesting seems like a project of mutual interest for faculty.

Find help for the things you don’t know. Since my start in the field of teaching and learning support, I have seen resources and services grow rapidly in the name of faculty teaching online and with instructional tools. It is highly likely that your place of teaching extends such resources and services to you, if only you seek them out. “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” as the saying goes, and in my experience, if you don’t ask for help, you will only fall more behind. Technologies are always updating and departments may shift in structure, but you can control your own course (pun intended) by looking for those that literally have in their job descriptions to help you.

Learn about the tool’s development and limitations, and share this with your students. OpenAI, the developers behind ChatGPT, are very transparent about its testing process and limitations as an AI authoring tool. Some key and critical limitations to note so far include a proclivity to outputs that are “toxic or biased” with made-up facts; and an English-speaking, and therefore cultural bias “towards the cultural values of English-speaking people.” Having a conversation with your students about such limitations makes for transparency in your class while addressing the serious possibilities for mis-presentations of self. Who wants to be seen as toxic or treacherous?

If we have learned anything from the Test Cheating Scare of 2020, let us brace for this ChatGPT wave with clarity of purpose as instructors, and aim for human exchanges with our students.

Christmas is around the corner, and so is Sakai 22!

Christmas is around the corner, and so is Sakai 22!

Don’t let final exams put a damper on your holiday spirit! Instructional Technology & Research Support (ITRS) is hard at work and preparing to unveil a new version of the Sakai LMS just in time for the holidays. Loyola will upgrade to Sakai version 22 on Wednesday, December 21st. During the upgrade process, Sakai will be unavailable (approximately 7am-11am Central Time). Faculty, staff, and students are not required to make any changes for the upgrade; all course and project sites will be intact and ready for use in Sakai 22. 

The annual Sakai upgrade ensures that Loyola can take advantage of the latest Sakai features and functionality, and we can eliminate pesky software bugs that have been squashed by the Sakai community. A few highlights you can anticipate in Sakai 22 include:

  • A new tool, Conversations, allows for threaded Q&A and discussions. Conversations enables users to filter and bookmark posts so it’s easy to find the content that matters most. 
  • New page layout options in the Lessons tool. 
  • A new integration with Gradescope, an AI-supported grading platform that streamlines grading of paper-based, bubble sheet, and coding assessments. 

Want to learn more? Visit Sakai 22 Upgrade. Here, you’ll find registration links for informational sessions conducted by your friendly ITRS colleagues, a promotional video highlighting new Sakai features, and more! 

Coming Soon…ITRS Workshops for Summer Faculty

Coming Soon…ITRS Workshops for Summer Faculty

Attention LUC Faculty!

It is our pleasure to announce an upcoming series of academic technology webinars. Please join ITRS for the following events (select the links in the session titles to register):

Monday, April 25th, 11-11:30am 

Zoom Basics –  Learn how to get started with Zoom, set up a recurring meeting for your Sakai course, configure security settings, and more.

Tuesday, April 26th, 12-12:30pm 

Introduction to Labster for Faculty – Discover Labster, a virtual science lab boasting a catalog of over one hundred lab simulations for various scientific disciplines.

Wednesday, April 27th, 4-4:30pm

New Features in Panopto for 2022 – An overview of exciting new tools available in Panopto.

Thursday, April 28th, 10-10:30am

Statistics in Sakai – Learn how to use the Statistics tool in Sakai for evaluating student engagement.

Friday, April 29th, 1-1:30pm

Advanced Zoom: Polling & Breakout Rooms – This session provides an introduction to using these tools for facilitating student engagement in Zoom meetings.

We hope to see you at these sessions. In the meantime, please send any questions to or book a Zoom meeting with a member of the ITRS team here.

Activate Your Lecture

Activate Your Lecture

To accommodate the substantial number of students enrolled in your class you are assigned to teach in the large lecture hall and so, you rely on lecture as your pedagogical approach. Does this describe your situation? Perhaps, you teach in a medical school where the didactic method is the standard curricular approach. Or maybe, you prefer a lecture style of teaching. If these examples are characteristic of your teaching situation, you may wonder if a student-centered approach to instruction is feasible. Challenges such as these should not be perceived as obstacles that prevent instructors from implementing learner-centered pedagogy through the use of active learning strategies .

Don’t let this be your students!

Boring Lecture
Why does the best sleep come in a boring lecture?

This image appears on a website that asks the question: “Why does the best sleep come in a boring lecture?” A quick Google search revealed multiple hits addressing the topic of staying awake in lectures. Many of these sites were directed on how students can stay tuned in and attentive, which is good; yet, I can’t help but consider that the fault does not belong entirely to the students. Instructors need to ask themselves if they are doing their part to keep lectures engaging.

The formal lecture is among the oldest teaching methods and has been widely use in higher education for centuries. Potential benefits of a good lecture include:

  • Presenting analyses and showing relationships between dissimilar ideas
  • Modeling the thought processes and problem-solving of a creative, intelligent person 
  • Summarizing and presenting an overview of a topic, which can set the stage for reading and further discussion 
  • Supplementing and expanding the knowledge presented in a textbook or other source of information 
  • Inspiring and motivating students to learn about a topic or subject matter
  • Synthesizing, evaluating, and discussing information presented 

While a lecture may benefit students in these and other ways, lecturing alone cannot ensure that students become active learners. Studies on attention span suggest that after 15-20 minutes the lecture loses its effectiveness even in transmitting information. 

Participatory Lecture

An easy way to combat passive learning and loss of attention is to break up the lecture by interspersing student interaction strategies. Get students to interact with the material throughout the class session. Involve them in the lecture. For maximal student engagement, allow students to interact not only with the material, but with each other. The fixed seating of lecture halls may seem to argue against this, but it can be accomplished by forming teams from adjacent seats or by having students in a row interact with those in the row behind. Although typical lecture hall classrooms may not be the most conducive for student-student interactions, they certainly do not eliminate the possibility.

In a teacher-centered classroom environment, it is common for only some students in a given course to participate in asking or responding to questions. In contrast, a class with successful active learning activities provides an opportunity for all students in the class to think and engage with course material and practice skills for learning, applying, synthesizing, or summarizing that material.

Using active learning strategies does not require abandoning the lecture format. Rather, adding small active learning strategies can make lecturing more effective for student learning. These activities give students just a minute or two to check their understanding of recent material, practice a skill or highlight gaps in their knowledge before giving an explanation.

Active learning refers to a broad range of teaching strategies which engage students as active participants in their learning during class time with their instructor. Typically, these strategies involve some amount of students working together during class, but may also involve individual work and/or reflection. These teaching approaches range from short, simple activities like journal writing, problem solving and paired discussions, to longer, involved activities or pedagogical frameworks like case studies, role plays, and structured team-based learning.

Active Learning Strategies Coninuum

Strategies for “Activating” Your Lecture


Pose questions to the students throughout the class. Questions can be stand-alone or designed to spur a discussion. Discussion asks students to process information they have studied in new ways, for instance, by applying it, evaluating it, or comparing their understanding of it with that of others. Class discussions, either between the instructor and the students or the students themselves, greatly improve students’ ability to retain information.

Consider the following tactics…

  • Use questions that engage and challenge the students. Focus them on core content, current events, higher order thinking about concepts. 
    • Keywords include: why, how, should, what is next, compare, contrast, plan, design, develop 
  • The use of charts, diagrams, and photographs in your slide presentation may serve as question prompts.
  • Questions can be short-answer or open-ended.
  • Ask for volunteers or call on non-volunteers.
  • Use the audience response system to engage more of the students. 
  • Incorporate novelty in how the questions are answered.
    • Have the class “agree” or “disagree” with the student who answered the question. Students can submit their choice via the audience response system.
    • Students can work in small groups or partners to come up with the answers to questions
    • Students can write out their own questions and exchange them with a partner and then answer each other’s questions.
    • Assign students to an “expert panel” who will answer the questions for that class session. Rotate students so all have an opportunity to be an “expert.” To encourage preparation for class, assign the expert role at the beginning of the class period. The “agree” or “disagree” activity can be added to the expert panel approach.

Student Writing

Large classes make it cumbersome to grade long term papers or essay exams; but, there are other strategies for student writing that you can consider. Several short writing activities requiring a minimal amount of feedback from the instructor can be incorporated into a lecture course. These activities provide students who are reluctant to participate in a large-class discussion another way to be active learners. 

Consider the following tactics…

  • Allow students to download notes in advance that include significant blanks, so students have to listen intently and mentally engage the material.  These notes should be more than the PowerPoint slides you use to guide your lecture.
  • Ask students to draw a picture (or a graphic) of the concept, using no words but still demonstrating comprehension.
  • Use one minute papers to ask content questions, which can be collected and used as a micro-quiz (graded or otherwise) to gauge whether students really are understanding the material. 
  • Daily Report – Students are asked to complete the following sentences: “The point of today’s lecture is. . . ” and “A question I have is … “. These reports can be graded or ungraded and can provide a clear sense of which areas are presenting students with the greatest difficulties.
  • Chain Notes – Students receive index cards at the beginning of the class. During the class, students pass around a large envelope on which the instructor has written a question. Each student spends a few minutes writing a response to the question when the envelope reaches him or her. The instructor can then respond to what the students have written. 
  • Three-Minute Thesis – After discussing an issue, have students write down their reactions and reasons to support one side or another. Circulate the responses and ask students to support and elaborate on their comments.
  • Ask students to list which topic was understood the least, to see if the entire class shared the same lack of comprehension.

Many of the above student writing activities can be used to garner feedback from students. In very large classes it is not strictly necessary to read all the responses— just enough to get a sense of the class. You can start the next lecture with a brief summary of what students had to say in their assessments. If the responses revealed considerable disagreement or confusion, use that as the basis for a discussion or review of the difficult material. It is important to come back to the students with some summary of their assessments to make clear that you are really interested in their thoughts, so that they learn more from each other, and so that they will put effort into their next writing assessment.

Faculty Role in Active Learning

Many of the suggestions offered here call for instructors to play roles different from the ones you may be used to. When using a technique for the first time, you might try it for a test review session or with material that you have already taught. Remember, students may also need time to adjust to a new teaching technique. Many students will appreciate your effort to be an effective instructor, even if those efforts are not initially as successful as you had hoped. Ultimately, you must decide what works and what doesn’t for your teaching style, course goals, and students. Teaching situations vary and what works for one instructor in one classroom may not be as effective in another situation. Some of the methods may be appropriate for a particular subject or group of students, but may not mesh well with an individual instructor’s personality.

Bringing Global Accessibility Awareness Day to Loyola

Bringing Global Accessibility Awareness Day to Loyola

If you follow ITRS on Twitter, you know we were recently celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), which occurs on the third Thursday of May every year. The spark behind GAAD is that accessibility awareness, testing, and design should be mainstream and essential—not just the work of a few specialists.

On a personal level, my contribution to this day of recognition is to spread awareness of the journey that accessible design entails. Learning to design accessible courses; to create accessible websites and documents; and to remediate inaccessible courses, documents, and websites takes time, patience, and a growth mindset. If the idea of making your course completely accessible and inclusive is overwhelming, you’re not alone! Start today by incorporating one new accessible design practice into your course development work—add headers to your documents, captions to your videos, or alternative text to your images. Recognize that the work of digital accessibility is never done; it’s truly a journey rather than a destination.

Here at Loyola, there are several teams excited to support faculty, staff, and students in digital accessibility work, including Instructional Technology & Research Support, the Office of Online Learning, and the Student Accessibility Center. In ITRS, we focus on the accessible, inclusive design of digital course materials in and outside of the learning management system, Sakai. To that end, ITRS offers one-on-one consultations to address questions about accessible design and assistive technology. We can discuss digital accessibility best practices, check your course materials for compliance with ADA and W3C standards, and assist with formulating an action plan for remediating inaccessible learning materials. To schedule a consultation, visit our booking page, select Instructional Technologies, then Digital Accessibility. We look forward to working with you!

We’re Here for You: Introducing ScheduleOnce

We’re Here for You: Introducing ScheduleOnce

Do you need help setting up your Sakai site? Are you curious which instructional technologies will help your online learning vision come to life? Just need a friendly face to talk you through some tech troubles? ITRS is here for you and we’re happy to introduce a new tool to streamline the experience.

Visit the ITRS ScheduleOnce hub to book a one-on-one appointment with a member of our team, comprised of Instructional Designers, Learning Design Engineers, and more! Appointments are offered via Zoom and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting when our team confirms your appointment.

How to schedule a consultation

To get started, visit the ITRS ScheduleOnce hub. You can also find a link to the hub on any of our web pages.

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