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D2L’s Higher Education Survey Reveals Generative AI in Early Stages of Adoption

Only 13% of surveyed institutions have generative AI tool regulations, guidance, or policies in place

D2L, a global learning technology company, announced the results of the Generative Artificial Intelligence in Canadian Post-Secondary Education survey, conducted in partnership with the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association. The report examines faculty and administrator views on Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). These findings were gathered anonymously from 438 higher education administrators and faculty members across 126 Canadian institutions in response to open-ended questions surrounding Generative Artificial Intelligence use and policies within higher education institutions.

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While use and perspectives differ across institutions, the report’s findings reveal:

  • Generative AI policies, regulations and guidelines are still in the early stages. Twenty-four percent of participants were unaware of whether their institution has established any regulations, guidelines or policies pertaining to Artificial Intelligence tools.
  • Of the remaining respondents, a minority (13%) said they were provided with guiding principles, 40% were not provided with any guidance at all, and 47% are currently working toward developing guiding principles.
  • Generative AI usage is currently inconsistent. Thirteen percent of survey respondents describe how generative AI tools were being used at their institution, revealing inconsistent and experimental usage largely guided by faculty and some institution-wide initiatives such as workshops and working groups.

  • Generative AI sentiment varies. When considering the potential for the use of generative Artificial Intelligence tools within higher education settings, 32% of faculty and administrators have mixed feelings about AI, ranging from optimistic to concerned.

  • There are concerns about the future of Generative AI. Looking ahead to the year 2033, 56% of faculty members and administrators outlined their concerns about the biases and limitations of AI, and question AI’s impact on the price of education.

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Based on the findings of the report, D2L outlines recommendations for leaders, including distributing institution-wide ethical AI practices, training, and guidelines for educators, staff, and students.

“The narrative around AI in higher education seems to paint it as making unwanted and dangerous incursions, with a focus on academic dishonesty, the need for policy or guidelines, and in some quarters, the risk of AI replacing the faculty member’s role,” said Terry Di Paolo, Vice-Provost of e-learning at Dallas College. “The real question we need to all be contending with is: Are we equipping our graduates for a future where the life course is disrupted by frontier technologies, including AI?”

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D2L strives to design, develop and use AI systems that are unbiased and fair, informed by D2L’s AI Guidelines. D2L’s latest generative AI-powered technologies can assist educators with suggested practice questions to help students prepare for final exams and Brightspace Virtual Assistant uses AI to assist users from within Brightspace.

“For over a decade, D2L has been a trusted leader in harnessing the power of AI, from predictive learning models and automatic video captioning to our most recent offerings of AI tools to support help requests and build assessments,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “This latest research shows that generative AI is facing both apprehension and excitement. This technology is evolving rapidly, and D2L is moving just as quickly to thoughtfully incorporate AI into workflows to support students and help faculty build higher quality learning experiences in less time.”

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