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RCL’s AI conference explores the fascinating future of education

RCL’s AI conference provided a forum for our academics and leading external speakers to explore the future of education and beyond.

On Friday 19th April, we held our annual Learning and Teaching Conference at our Great Titchfield Street campus. This year’s theme was ‘Artificial Intelligence: Changing Practices, Creating the Future’.  

Chaired by our Deputy Provost Paul Williams, the conference provided a forum for RCL’s academics and leading external speakers to explore how AI is disrupting and reshaping traditional teaching, learning, research and student support activities and practices. 

Generative AI is emerging as an increasingly powerful agent of change in higher education, RCL and institutions across the sector with several academic, ethical and employability-related opportunities and challenges. 

RCL’s AI conference explores the fascinating future of education.

Recognising that AI is here to stay, the conference aimed to encourage educators to discuss new ways of transformative thinking in order to infuse AI into the curriculum, examine evolving pedagogical models that embrace AI, rethink and retool teaching within the experiential classroom, and consider how AI might be used practically to develop authentic assessments to better prepare graduates for employment in the era of AI. 

Professor Patrick McGhee, Assistant Vice Chancellor at the University of Bolton, delivered the conference keynote presentation, titled The Psychology of Artificial Intelligence – Learning and Leadership.  

Professor McGhee began by drawing parallels between working with AI and working on an oil rig. He noted that, despite what our preconceptions might tell us, extensive data shows that either scenario only presents significant danger if adequate safety precautions are not followed. ‘If we don’t get the basics right, everything falls apart,’ he added.  

RCL’s AI conference provided a forum for our academics and leading external speakers to explore the future of education and beyond.

While tools such as ChatGPT and Bing AI have ostensibly made AI content creation accessible to all, Professor McGhee made a point of highlighting how the growing gaps between paid tier and free tier functionalities within AI products are ‘amplifying social inequalities that are already there’.  

Reflecting on the conference, Professor McGhee remarks:  

‘Jobs, business, the law, medicine, schools and much else are all going to be hugely impacted by AI in all its forms. AI is potentially a force for good, but it is important that we have controls, expertise, fair access and a range of checks and balances in place. Higher education institutions must not only be at the heart of these developments but provide leadership for them. They need to explore options, create opportunity and – where necessary – ask the difficult questions.’ 

Another highlight of the conference was Dr Charles Knight, Assistant Director of Knowledge and Innovation at Advance HE, with his presentation, Using AI for productivity.  

Dr Knight explored practical uses of AI generated content, specifically for academic staff. These included the creation of custom bots that perform time-saving tasks, such as session planning or summarising large documents.  

RCL’s AI conference provided a forum for our academics and leading external speakers to explore the future of education and beyond.

Reflecting on the day, Dr Knight comments:

‘The conference demonstrated the power and value of bringing colleagues together to share best practices and decide on principles when dealing with a fast-moving significant change such as AI.’ 

We’re so grateful to all our presenters for their fantastic, thought-provoking contributions. Following the conference, we’re excited to see how our academic team apply the many insights they gleaned from the day to optimise and innovate their approach to education. 

CL’s AI conference provided a forum for our academics and leading external speakers to explore the future of education and beyond.
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