In higher education, including EMBA Programs, the buzz has begun about the impact of ChatGPT, a new generative form of AI that crafts written responses when prompted, based on quickly tapping its access to vast amounts of information.
Is ChatGPT friend or foe for those who are striving to create a transformational educational experience for students? The answer to that depends.
“If you are trying to teach the same curriculum the same way, ChatGPT could present a problem for you,” says Brian Evergreen, founder and CEO of the consulting firm The Profitable Good Company and former global head of Autonomous AI Co-Innovation at Microsoft Research.
Those who think about the educational objectives and consider how ChatGPT and other AI-related technologies can further those goals could strengthen their impact. “The educational methods might change, but the objectives can be even better now aided by technology.”
AI offers the potential to enhance student learning in several ways:
- Summarizing and identifying key points from a lecture or presentation
- Quickly finding past lectures or specific comments or references from past lectures
- Automatically generating citations and formatting them according to citation style
Educational programs, especially those with a leadership focus such as EMBA Programs, also face a larger question than application of the technology in the classroom. How can they prepare leaders to take advantage of AI and other emerging technologies in ways that strengthen their organizations?
One important step involves defining and focusing on the abilities that will help leaders effectively marshal new and emerging technologies to their organizations’ benefit, says Evergreen. Other possibilities? Imagine what your program might look like if you built it from scratch based on emerging leadership needs, as well as ask faculty to think about the ways AI and other emerging technologies impact their disciplines and the potential adjustments to their courses.
Leaders don’t need to be practitioners of AI or the next greatest technology, he says. They do need to excel at a host of other key skills: Setting a vision that inspires everyone in the organization, navigating vast amounts of information and hype to discern the real and meaningful pieces, facilitating teams with the diverse representation that supports innovation, encouraging collaboration, and empowering others.
Classroom experiences and assignments can reinforce skill development, such as asking EMBA students how they would approach considering a new technology without much information behind it yet.
“That would be an example of saying, how do you clear through the fog between what’s true, what’s not, what’s relevant. Is this so urgent that you have to throw money at it? Or is it more like a child prodigy and we need to wait-and-see?”
21st century leaders will need to serve more as visionaries and facilitators than their predecessors, uniting people behind a common purpose and creating the right organizational dynamics that tampers the desire to control decisions and instead activates the power of collaboration. “I call it moving from being divided by expertise to having the multiplication of expertise.”
This type of leadership emphasizes social systems and draws on non-traditional management disciplines, such as philosophy and the history of reason. Evergreen encourages graduate management programs to integrate social systems sciences into the traditional management curriculum.
While students increasingly may expect management programs to include an AI component, students such as those in EMBA and related programs don’t necessarily need a deep dive into any one technology, he says. Instead, a focus on strategy – where technology may fit and what it might mean – proves more valuable, he says.
“Rather than trying to constantly update the curriculum every year with tons and tons of content, or creating a whole new class each year on whatever the latest fad is, look at what are the long-lasting leadership principles that will help leaders regardless of the technology, and have the class perform exercises applying those principles to the latest technologies in collaborative, Socratic discussions.”
How important is strategic, forward thinking? Evergreen points to Microsoft, which spent a billion dollars on a start-up that had no revenue and 100 employees and that had just transitioned from a non-profit to a for-profit organization. At the time, most organizations would question the wisdom of that investment. Now that Open AI brought ChatGPT to life, Microsoft is integrating it into its products and shareholder value has risen.
“I think that the ability for leaders to be able to see those kinds of opportunities, discern the credibility and trustworthiness of those who are bringing them information about these new technologies, these new opportunities, and map them back to the broader vision – those are the leadership skills that EMBA students will be so glad to have as they go out to navigate the world.”
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