ChatGPT and Generative AI Discussion Group: Navigating the Future of Teaching and Learning

A graphic representation of a human head and an artificial intelligence head, depicted side by side, with their temples touching, symbolizing connection and collaboration between humans and technology

Join our virtual discussion group, "ChatGPT and Generative AI: Navigating the Future of Teaching and Learning" as we delve into the evolving world of generative AI and its impact on higher education at UMass and beyond. This discussion group is a collaboration between the CTL and the IDEAS (Instructional Design, Engagement, and Support) group, co-facilitated by Dan Cannity (IDEAS) and Kirsten Helmer (CTL). Together, we will explore the possibilities, challenges, and implications of using ChatGPT and generative AI tools for teaching and learning.

Engage in Critical Conversations: We will raise and explore questions surrounding the potential impact of generative AI tools in higher education, investigating the ethical, pedagogical, and social implications of integrating these tools into teaching and learning environments.

Express Thoughts and Concerns: We welcome discussions about how generative AI might transform educational practices, and we encourage expressions of concern about potential challenges or unintended consequences.

Share Experiences: We value real-world experiences. Come prepared to share your own experiences of using generative AI tools like ChatGPT or other GenAI tools in the classroom. Explore how these tools have influenced your teaching approaches, enhanced student engagement, or presented unique learning opportunities. Discover how fellow educators and students have leveraged ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in their disciplines. Gain insights into various disciplinary contexts and applications of AI in different fields of study.

Learn Together: We aim to learn from diverse experiences within our own community. How are instructors and students navigating the evolving landscape of AI tools at UMass, in their disciplines and in different fields of study?

Collaborate in a Judgment-Free Space: We believe in fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. We envision this group to be a place where we can freely exchange ideas, challenge assumptions, and expand our understanding of generative AI's potential in higher education through valuing the different perspectives we may have. Together, let us navigate the possibilities and complexities of generative AI in higher education, consider its integration into teaching and learning, and leverage our collective wisdom.

In Spring 2024, the discussion group will meet via Zoom on the following dates with separate session descriptions and registration links provided the month before each meeting.


  • Thursday, February 15, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. “AI Syllabus Statements in Practice: Enhancing Compliance and Navigating Implications in Your Course” (Dan Cannity, IDEAS, and Kirsten Helmer, CTL). In this session, we delve into the vital steps necessary to increase the likelihood that your students will adhere to your course policy and guidelines for generative AI use. We will guide you through the critical decision points involved in formulating your AI course policy, explore the implications of each choice you make, and consider implications of restricting or allowing AI tool use. Register here
  • Friday, March 15, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. "Integrating AI in Practice: How to Teach with and about AI". (Dan Cannity, IDEAS, and Kirsten Helmer, CTL). This interactive session focuses on how you can help students learn with and about generative AI tools in your courses. Join guest presenter Torrey Trust, Professor of Learning Technology in the College of Education at UMass Amherst, to explore the necessity of AI literacy in college education. Register here.
  • Thursday, April 4, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. "AI for the People: Unleashing the Power of Community-Engaged AI - A Conversation with Dr. Aron Culotta".  In this virtual event, organized by Amherst College’s AI in the Liberal Arts (AILA) and part of their Spring Learning & Discussion Series, Dr. Aron Culotta, Director of Tulane's Center for Community-Engaged Artificial Intelligence (and UMass-Amherst alum) will share his on-going work with several organizations working towards justice in New Orleans. Dr. Culotta will be joined by Kirsten Helmer (CTL)  and Dan Cannity (IDEAS). Register here.
  • Thursday, April 11, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. "Updating Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Graduate Students on the Emergence of AI Tools and their Potential in Research". (Dan Cannity, IDEAS, and Kirsten Helmer, CTL). Join this session for a special share-out from Dr. Alejandro Heuck, Associate Professor, Dept. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology who will spotlight an initiative undertaken within the MCB graduate program, titled "The Intersection of Research, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Bioinformatics." Open dialogue to follow the presentation. Register here.

  • Wednesday, May 1, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm. "Where Do I Start?: A Hands-on Session on Navigating Platforms to Promote AI Literacy". (Dan Cannity, IDEAS, and Kirsten Helmer, CTL). Join us for this in-person and hands-on exploratory session designed to help instructors begin to build a foundation of AI literacy. Learn how to access, compare outputs, and explore different AI platforms, while building the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about how to redesign courses in the age of AI. Register here.

Fall 2023 meetings: 

  • Thursday, August 24, “Guiding Students in the Thoughtful Use of ChatGPT and Generative AI: Syllabus and First Class Discussions”
  • Friday, September 15, "How Do I (Re)design Assignments and Assessments in an AI-Impacted World?"
  • Thursday, October 5, "Generative AI Playground and Reflection Session: Crafting Effective Prompts for AI Tools in Education"
  • Friday, October 27, "Navigating the Ethical Use of Generative AI in Higher Education"
  • Thursday, November 9, "Addressing Suspected Misuse of Generative AI in the Classroom as Semester-End Nears"
  • Thursday, November 30, "Share Out: Introducing AI Tools in a First-Year Seminar to Foster Responsible Usage"
  • Thursday, December 14, "Reflection and Projection: A Conversation About Our AI Journeys"


Attend any session that interests you! Come, join the conversation, and let us navigate the evolving AI landscape in higher education together.