Generative AI: IÉSEG adopts a systemic approach to raise awareness, train and support its teams, students and stakeholders

In just a few months, generative AI has completely overturned entire sectors of our society. While the concept of Artificial Intelligence is an old one, dating back to the 1950s ( mathematician Alan Turing first introduced it), the advent of ChatGPT marked a major turning point, paving the way for systems capable of generating text in a coherent, contextual manner. Launched on November 30, 2022 by OpenAI, ChatGPT-3 caused a stir among the general public: more than 100 million users tested this revolutionary technology in less than 2 months, whereas TikTok, which held the previous record, had to wait more than 9 months before reaching this symbolic milestone (by way of comparison, it took Facebook or YouTube more than 4 years to achieve this).

Text, image, video, voice, computer programming: generative AI tools are increasingly powerful and their use is booming, penetrating all professions and all sectors. Immediately aware of the profound economic and educational implications of these technologies, IÉSEG got to grips with the subject. The aim was to identify the opportunities and challenges that generative AI would bring to teaching and learning practices, as well as the many opportunities it would bring to all staff, both academic and administrative.

The School has adopted a very concrete, systemic approach involving all teams: raising awareness to tame the technology, then testing to discover, training to improve and master it, and finally widespread adoption wherever possible…

Raising awareness, demystifying, alerting and inspiring

In January 2023, just a few weeks after the ChatGPT boom, Loïc PLÉ, Head of Pedagogy, and Charbel KALAYLI, Head of Organization and Information Systems at IÉSEG, raised awareness among faculty and administrative staff.

What is generative AI? What will this technology bring? What are these new tools and what are their functionalities? How can our students use them? How can everyone benefit from the power of these technologies? What are the risks, particularly in terms of data? These are just some of the topics discussed by the two departments, which are directly involved in these issues.

The aim of these awareness-raising sessions was not only to demystify what was being said, but also to warn teams of potential pitfalls (AI hallucinations, data security, intellectual property issues, etc.) and, above all, to encourage anyone who wanted to, to try out AI tools for their own work. From teaching to various support functions, the aim of these tests was to start identifying potential sources of gains in time, productivity and quality.

Meanwhile, from February 2023 onwards, experts from the School have also been meeting with partner companies. Here again, the aim was to raise teams’ awareness of the opportunities, risks and challenges of these technologies, with concrete examples adapted to different business sectors and professions.

Testing and discovering the possibilities, and sharing the first concrete applications

IÉSEG’s teaching and administrative teams soon embarked on concrete uses of generative AI in their work, with the first results gradually being shared across the school.

Whether it’s helping to write syllabuses or case studies, building quizzes and multiple-choice questions for more personalized assessments, or even using tools that integrate generative AI in their operation (such as DeepMemory, a tool for building personalized study guides for students) to enhance the learning experience, IÉSEG’s professors have been quick to adopt these tools.

For example, Carla BADER, professor of Strategic Management, used ChatGPT to improve the interactivity of an asynchronous online course entitled “Decisions and Leadership”, in order to introduce new types of online interaction between teacher and students. Chat GPT came up with 12 interesting activity ideas, balancing practical applications and thought-provoking elements (online case studies, discussion forums, simulated virtual exercises, thought journals or blogs, online debates, collaborative projects, interactive quizzes or polls, leadership reflection videos, speaker webinars, strategic planning exercises, role-play scenarios and industry analysis documents). For each suggested activity, the generative AI proposed 3 to 4 lines of clear instructions for setting up the activity.

Another example: for his ‘Business Exploration’ course (introduction to business and management), Loïc PLÉ asks his students to prepare a marketing campaign for a company, taking on the role of a marketing agency. For this campaign, they have to create two different types of content (audio, video, poster, etc.). As of September 2023, one of the two pieces of content must be created using generative AI. They must provide their prompts and explicitly mention the tool(s) they used. Then, the professor makes sure that the prompts are in line with the campaign’s objectives, the nature of the product for which the campaign was designed, the product’s target, and so on. This leads to interesting discussions, revealing the students’ critical thinking skills, as they learn how to use the tool in a real-life situation.

As for Sophie VANWYNSBERGHE, a teacher of French as a Foreign Language, she was looking for a faster way to create exercises that would enable students to consolidate the vocabulary they had learned during the lesson. Thanks to ChatGPT, she is now able to design personalized exercises for each course, using all the words learned during the session, in a shorter time.

Last but not least, Albane TARNAUD, a professor in the Finance department, wanted to create series of exercises for her “Digital Corporate Finance” course, for her students to practice using a formula to calculate the present value of a growing annuity. So, instead of simply asking her students “What is the present value of an increasing annuity with the first cash flow of [dollar amount] that would increase by [a growth rate] over [a certain number] of years?”, she created, thanks to ChatGPT, short stories that require students to use this formula.

Teaching, but also research… A number of professors quickly became interested in generative AI. Maximiliano MARZETTI, for example, is a professor of law specializing in intellectual property, data protection and alternative dispute resolution. His current research focuses on the legal environment in which artificial intelligence evolves, and in particular on the issue of copyright.

Or Huiru YANG, also a professor in International Negotiation and holder of a PhD in Organizational Behavior, published in April 2023 the results of a research study around team attitudes to AI and how these technologies are implemented in organizations, with a particular interest around the human aspect and how individuals and teams interact with AI.

The School’s professors were not the only ones to embark on this adventure. For example, the School’s Corporate Relations Department quickly initiated a partnership with CAREER SET, an online platform powered by artificial intelligence. The aim is to support students in optimizing their English-language applications, whether by creating hard-hitting CVs or cover letters in line with the positions they are applying for.

CAREET SET offers a wide range of features for students, such as CV analysis and personalized comments based on targeted positions or sectors, and line-by-line analysis of the CV for continuous improvement. The tool also compares the CV against specific job descriptions, highlighting relevant keywords and skills, and analyzing the skills gap in relation to the specific job description. Finally, the platform offers support in writing personalized, optimized cover letters, with scoring of the match between the keywords used and the skills sought by the sector or company.

Finally, IÉSEG quickly joined the “Cité de l’IA”, an initiative led by Medef Hauts-de-France to develop synergies on the strategic subject of Artificial Intelligence. Its aim is to help companies demystify and take ownership of the subject of artificial intelligence, by making it accessible to top management and employees. In particular, IÉSEG has contributed to various working groups, including one on the catalog of AI training courses offered in the region.

Training and owning these tools for greater productivity and efficiency

Since then, IÉSEG has trained its academic and administrative teams to help them take ownership of generative AI tools and identify all the tasks that can be automated to gain in quality, productivity and/or efficiency.

At the beginning of 2024, the Pedagogy Department thus proposed a training course for all faculty, entitled “Generative AI for Teaching and Learning at IÉSEG”. Professors are required to follow six modules, ranging from prompt engineering (i.e., how to effectively query a generative AI tool) to the use of AI to design a course, deliver it or include it in assessment modalities, to conclude with future uses of these tools. This online course enables them to learn about these new tools, so they can make the best use of them in their teaching activities, for the benefit of their students. The course has also been adapted for the administrative teams, who will benefit from it as of May 2024, with examples adapted to the various possible uses, very different from those of teachers.

At the same time, all the School’s managers attended a day of training in generative AI, and some departments also trained their teams to see how to adopt AI tools in their day-to-day activities.

More than just raising awareness, these training days enabled everyone to immerse themselves in these new tools, to understand how their jobs will be transformed, and therefore to better learn how to use them today in order to master them as quickly as possible and gain in competitiveness.

Supporting the widespread use of AI tomorrow, wherever possible

What about tomorrow? Tomorrow, as part of a systemic approach to the use of generative AI within the School, IÉSEG will step up the pace in all areas.

For example, the School will reinforce the teaching of Data Management and integrate the AI dimension and its use in all its programs (for instance, for BIB students).

Or, by intensifying the Data Project, launched at the end of 2023 and whose aim is to identify all the data used by all the School’s departments and make them homogeneous, so that generative AI tools can be used effectively by everyone.

Finally, IÉSEG has chosen to become a Gold partner of “SuperCharger Ventures”, the world’s largest EdTech ecosystem, whose aim is to support bold founders who are shaping the future of education and training. This partnership will enable IÉSEG to take part in the reflections on generative AI led by several of the world’s top higher education institutions, and to identify start-ups innovating in this field and build on their latest innovations, for the greater benefit of its students, faculty, graduates and corporate partners.

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