As part of ongoing investigations into generative AI for teaching and learning we’ve heard from multiple perspectives, including academics, leaders and students who are experimenting with these evolving tools.
During a series of events at the UTS AI x L&T week, we also heard about AI for Accessibility and its potential to support diverse student learning experiences. In this blog, we’ll further explore some of the insights shared by students Siena and Raeanne during the webinar, and how generative AI has opened up new possibilities in their learning.
Meet the students: Siena and Raeanne
- Siena is a first-year Media Arts and Production (Bachelor of Communications) student. She is passionate about filmmaking and thrives on her creative and pragmatic skills, developing ideas and bringing them to life through film. She aspires to collaborate with fellow artists, sharing narratives of queer joy, hope and resilience, with future ambitions in animation, comedy, sci-fi and horror as a writer and producer.
- Raeanne is pursuing a Bachelor of Laws and Communications with a major in Journalism. She is interested in exploring future professions where she can combine her dual degrees.
AI tools for focus, communication and engagement
As someone with ADHD, Siena experiences periods of deep focus but finds it difficult to maintain a consistent study practice. For her, GenAI is a crucial accessibility tool that facilitates her studies. GenAI has especially helped Siena improve her presenting and time management skills.
- Key tools: Siena uses Yoodli for real-time feedback on her speaking, helping her adjust her speaking speed and stay on point.
Raeanne has explored various AI technologies like typing assistants, speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools to support her learning. Traditional note-taking limited her lecture engagement, causing her to miss out on important information and creating challenges in revising for assessment tasks.
- Key tools: Raeanne uses tools like Otter.ai for speech-to-text conversion and Glean for its capabilities to sync lecture slides and notes, allowing her to better focus on lecture content. These tools have been instrumental in enabling Raeanne to focus on the content rather than the process, enhancing her engagement.
Recognising needs, and identifying the right tool for the job
Siena first began using GenAI tools when she noticed she had become disengaged in her learning. As someone who loves to learn, this was unusual and Siena realised she needed extra support from AI tools. Now, Siena uses diverse study methods which incorporate GenAI to help her maintain focus.
- Key tools: Siena uses Speechify, a text-to-speech tool, to enhance her learning by adjusting the reading speed to her focus level. Whether Siena uses it as a break from traditional reading or as an assistive technology to bolster her attention during the process, Speechify has been a pivotal tool in her educational learning toolkit.
Raeanne’s introduction to speech-to-text AI tools transformed her approach to lectures. Previously, she focussed on capturing every detail, often at the cost of a deeper understanding of the subject. AI tools help her concentrate on content, significantly boosting her lecture engagement and comprehension.
- Key tools: Raeanne uses Otter.ai and Glean to record lectures for revision, and revisit transcripts for missed details. She also uses SensusAccess to convert documents to different formats like MP3. These tools have collectively enriched her learning experience, enhancing the range of ways she can consume and process information.
Any favourite GenAI tools?
Siena experiences time blindness, a common ADHD symptom, which makes estimating task completion times challenging. goblin.tools‘ ‘Magic ToDo’ has been a game-changer for time management, allowing her to break down tasks into sub-tasks with estimated timeframes, even when working to multiple deadlines. She also uses ChatGPT for research and assessment planning, appreciating its useful framework for essays, supporting her to stay on track.
Raeanne’s top GenAI tools for enhancing her learning experience are Otter.ai (as noted above) and Grammarly. Grammarly corrects and offers clarity and engagement suggestions for writing, making it a favourite for tackling assessment tasks. It plays an invaluable role in shaping her writing process and finalising her work, by refining her writing, and boosting confidence and quality.
Empowering individuals for more inclusive learning
GenAI tools can assist and enhance student learning in constructive ways; this impact is amplified if students face any barriers to their learning.Siena
GenAI tools have significantly improved Siena’s study and engagement at university. It has enabled her to become more proactive with her learning and thrive in a university environment.
Siena and Raeanne’s experiences highlight that GenAI tools, when used as assistive technologies, are invaluable additions to the educational toolkit. While they’re not a panacea, they effectively address the unique needs of students, empowering them to engage more effectively with their studies. Their stories also highlight the broader possibilities that GenAI offers in shaping an inclusive and accessible educational experience for all students.
Guided by student voices and experiences, it’s crucial for higher education decision-makers to recognise and harness the potential of technologies such as these. As we reflect on the experiences of students like Siena and Raeanne, the question remains: How will we further embrace GenAI to enhance all student learning experiences in the future?