Conference explores the transformative impact of AI on education

May 06, 2024
Two women on stage with a podium draped with a cloth with the. letter M on it between them. The woman on the right is speaking into a handheld microphone.
Jesse S. Goodwin, Ph.D., chief innovation officer, left, and Crystal Broj, chief digital transformation officer, discuss AI in innovation and health care. Photos by Jonathan Coultas

On April 19, the Medical University of South Carolina brought together more than 200 faculty and staff members for their Teaching & Learning in the Age of Artificial Intelligence conference at the Charleston Marriott in Charleston. This event underscored MUSC’s role as a leader in health sciences education, research and patient care.

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, president of MUSC, opened the conference by highlighting the strategic alignment of AI with MUSC’s objectives, reinforcing the institution’s commitment to staying at the forefront of educational and health care advancements. Following his remarks, Georgette “Gigi” M. Smith, Ph.D., R.N., associate provost for Education Innovation and Student Life, kicked off the conference by highlighting the critical impact of AI in education. “AI is here, and we must embrace its potential to enhance efficiencies, support student learning and improve outcomes by providing equitable educational experiences,” Smith noted. Her introduction set a thoughtful tone for the day, emphasizing the importance of maintaining human connections as AI becomes more prevalent in the educational landscape.

Guided by Julaine Fowlin, Ph.D., executive director of Instructional Technology and Faculty Resources, and Mary Smith, director of Instructional Design and Technology, the conference unfolded, offering attendees a unique opportunity to engage in an enriching experience. It featured traditional lectures, interactive workshops, movement exercises and reflective sessions designed to deepen the understanding of AI’s practical applications and demonstrate how AI can simplify complex concepts effectively.

Group of people in a hotel ballroom. 
Dusty Jackson, executive director of the MUSC Wellness Center, conducts movement exercises with attendees.

A particularly significant feature of the conference was the session dedicated to the MUSC AI Hub, during which G. Hamilton Baker, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, and Jihad S. Obeid, M.D., professor of Public Health Sciences, together with MUSC students Alexa Globus, Cayla Wakser and Chase Walton, explained the hub’s vital role in fostering interprofessional collaborations. The students’ active engagement in the AI community was particularly noteworthy, highlighting the importance of their role in the educational experience. 

Attendee feedback praised the conference’s organization and effectiveness in demonstrating AI’s utility for streamlining routine teaching tasks and enriching classroom dynamics. Discoveries, such as the availability of tools like Copilot through MUSC accounts, were particularly enlightening. Moreover, innovative seating arrangements facilitated valuable interactions among participants.

Man in a coat and tie leans over a table as he talks to a seated woman. She is wearing glasses. They are looking at a laptop computer. 
Thomas G. Smith, Ph.D., reviews Microsoft Copilot’s response to workshop prompt with Kimberly Kascak. 

The keynote presentations, particularly those by C. Edward “Eddie” Watson, Ph.D., vice president for Digital Innovation in the Office of Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation at the American Association of Colleges and Universities and executive editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP), on the types of AI suitable for different educational settings, and Susan Hrach, Ph.D., director of the Faculty Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Columbus State University, on AI and embodiment, stood out for their informative and engaging content.

Lisa K. Saladin, PT, Ph.D., executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, reflected on the day’s achievements. “Today’s conference highlighted the incredible potential of AI to transform education. AI empowers us to expand the horizons of what’s possible in education, research and patient care,” Saladin said.

The conference successfully combined interactive experiences with innovative learning formats, empowering attendees and equipping them with the tools to harness the potential of AI tools in their educational endeavors. 

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