'We as Teachers Need to Evolve to Meet the Technology': Professor Explores Artificial Intelligence as Design Innovation Fellow

According to the “State of AI in Education” report (Quizlet, 2023), 62 percent of teachers and students in the United States have used artificial intelligence (AI). At Kent State University, Associate Professor David Foster has been immersing himself in research related to AI, seeking ways to empower students to integrate AI into various aspects of life. 

Foster, who teaches Visual Storytelling, Photojournalism and Digital Video Editing in the School of Media and Journalism, was initially drawn to AI because of its burgeoning influence in artistic fields. After observing a growing trend among students incorporating technology into their assignments, his curiosity was sparked further. 

“It seems like a lot of students are still rather hesitant to use AI because they see it as cheating,” Foster said, “and I think we as teachers need to evolve to meet the technology.” 

He emphasizes that if students are using it to copy and paste AI responses, it is cheating. However, without effective methods for detecting it as plagiarism, it is up to educators to develop new methods to meet learning outcomes. He also ensures that students know that using AI imaging or generative fill is in clear violation of the NPPA Code of Ethics for photojournalism, but when students use transparency, it can help to creatively illustrate ideas and concepts. 

David Foster collaborates with students

Foster joined the Kent State Design Innovation Faculty Fellows Program for the 2023-24 academic year to further his research. This program fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and promotes innovative teaching methods across the university. J.R. Campbell,  Executive Director of the Design Innovation Institute, provides an environment in the Design Innovation Hub (DI Hub) for Faculty Fellows to use design thinking to develop new approaches to teaching and creative work. 

"Not only is AI going to completely change how we learn and interact with each other, but it also unlocks immense creative potential,” he said. 

Fueling Foster’s research is the belief that, as an educator, embracing AI's potential for students is essential. He fosters an environment where students harness AI's capabilities to craft creative narratives while still learning its ethical implications. This approach is particularly evident in courses like Visual Storytelling and Photojournalism, where students leverage AI for various purposes, from crafting business plans to pre-visualizing images. 

He also underscores the dynamic nature of AI, ensuring his classes evolve to incorporate new skills alongside traditional ones. 

“Even in my Digital Video Editing class, you know, that class will not be the same in a couple of years, or even a couple of months based on how much AI and other editing tools have evolved,” said Foster, referencing an article by Variety about AI creating movies and TV shows. 

In his role as a DI Fellow this spring, Foster extended his reach beyond the classroom, recently developing the workshop “Pixel Quest: An AI Image Challenge.” His goal was to equip workshop participants with the curiosity and knowledge to integrate AI effectively into their personal and professional lives. 

David Foster Teaches Workshop

Facilitators organized students into teams during the workshop to use AI generative platforms. They guided them in crafting images based on prompts, like “humans who look like their pets,” and then selected the best creation through voting. 

The third and final workshop in the series, "Hack Your Homework," will take place April 15 in the DI Hub. Registration is open

“One thing that we’re aiming for with these workshops is not to make them a lecture where we sit down and talk about programming language,” Foster emphasized. “Instead, we want to dive in and make something.” 

Excited to teach something new, Foster finds fulfillment in introducing students to AI's possibilities. 

“Photography has constantly evolved since the 1830s, both technically and creatively. I’m excited to incorporate this new technology into my teaching and prepare students for a dramatically changing professional landscape,” said Foster. “I’m so thankful for the DI Hub and the advocates of this that let me see what we can do with it.” 

POSTED: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 09:57 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 09:59 AM
Eve Krejci, '24
Rami Daud