I spent thirty years teaching college social science courses, developing strategies for dealing with plagiarism. Receiving a copied paper was always the most painful part of the job. I tried to develop assignments so unique that it would be impossible to find something already written.
Now that AI is writing college essays for students, the game is transformed. I suggest abandoning the research and essay enterprise altogether. Forget thinking outside the box: throw away that old rectangle completely. The crises of our 21st century world demand a new higher education. Here is what I’m thinking:
- Make college free and accessible to all, with living stipends for those who need them. We need all brains on deck for the future we want to create.
- All courses are utopia workshops. Regardless of the topic, the focus is on envisioning equitable and sustainable future. The job of students is to practice asking new questions that will allow AI to provide the answers we need. The job of the professor is point to resources that explain how we got to where we are—not for students to memorize and spit back, but to input to move toward desired outcomes. Students start as the all-knowing experts. They discover for themselves, with the aid of professors, the data they need, when the questions they ask do not result in a liberating plan. They don’t need to prove that their brains hold the data, or that they can create a pretty sentence on their own. Rather than telling them what they need to know they figure it out on the backside.
- The class ends with some aspect of implementation, some action that moves us toward equity and sustainability.
Let AI hold the data, create the synopses, write the essays, create the bullet points. All learning is focused on questions and actions.
Anne Winkler-Morey is a writer based in Minneapolis. You can access her Minneapolis Interview Project; at turtleroad.org Her book, Allegiance to Winds and Waters: Bicycling the Political Divides of the United States, can be ordered here. You can read more about Winkler-Morey here. Email her at awmpedalstory.com