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WCET Survey Finds Slow AI Adoption at Colleges and Universities

The WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) conducted a national survey in April 2023 that showed colleges and universities have been slow to strategize and implement AI tools campuswide. Published in July 2023, the report, "Supporting Instruction and Learning Through Artificial Intelligence: A Survey of Institutional Practices & Policies," examines the challenges of AI adoption and makes recommendations for meeting them.

The survey was sent online to 13,215 recipients, with 648 responding. Its purpose was to determine how and why postsecondary institutions are using AI, what policies have been established, and what the challenges and benefits are to using it.

The highest number of responses were from four-year public universities (33%), two-year institutions (32%), and private, nonprofit universities (25%). The largest share of respondents were directors and officers of distance education (25%), faculty (21%), and academic instruction officers and provosts (17%). But 40% of respondents listed other titles, the report notes, which indicates that interest in and use of AI is widespread across campus.

One significant finding was that nearly 60% of respondents said intentional campuswide use or planned use of AI is "on the radar or scattered but there is no systemic action yet, and 22% of the total respondents said that they are in the planning stage."

On the question of whether and how institutions encourage and support faculty to use AI, a whopping 75% said their institutions do not offer incentives to use it, and 22% of institutions do not encourage it at all. Consequently, the report concludes, the biggest challenges to adopting AI were lack of AI expertise among faculty and administrators as well as lack of policies and guidelines.

Of the 6% of responders who have no interest in using AI at all, the two top concerns (26% each) were academic integrity and lack of faculty and administrator knowledge of the technology.

The report gives several recommendations for turning these problems around:

  • Offer opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and administrators to explore and discuss Al openly, without risk.
  • Create clear policies on the use of AI with regard to academic integrity and such issues as instructional uses and intellectual property issues.
  • Provide cybersecurity and training about AI to address data privacy.
  • Ensure learner equity and accessibility to AI.
  • Develop course and program curricula and teach AI literacy to students that is relevant to current and upcoming career needs.
  • Train and equip faculty and staff in the use of AI on an ongoing basis.
  • Include policies and training for departments and offices campuswide to create a "community of practice around AI."

Visit this WCET page to download the full report.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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