February 28, 2023

ChatGPT and the Importance of Embedding AI-Content Tools in Our Graduate Programs

You’ve probably heard a lot about AI-content tools in the new year.  In early December 2022 OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT, their updated artificial intelligence chatbot. Plug in a prompt (or a few) and ChatGPT will write an essay, compose a song, explain a scientific theory, and more. While its responses are coherent, they are often stiff and sometimes wrong. ChatGPT does not think, have an opinion, or reflect a unique, human voice. But it’s easy to use, quickly drafts clear and structured responses, and does a good job of synthesizing data (although fact-checking is critical). 

There’s been a lot of buzz about ChatGPT since then– but for our MS in Professional Writing  and MS in Translation and Interpreting programs at NYU School of Professional Studies, AI-content tools were already front and center in our curriculum. It’s clear that ChatGPT has pushed these tools into mainstream conversations, raising both concerns and excitement for what communication changes may be coming to our working world. 

We asked the two academic directors of these two programs and the director of NYU SPS’ NEXUS, to weigh in on their approach to using AI-content tools in the classroom. Below is what they had to say:

Dr. Annelise Finegan, Academic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor in the MS in Translation and Interpreting program: "We integrate generative AI into the curriculum as long as its use is acknowledged and beneficial to the task at hand. Machine translation, for example, is opening up new and exciting opportunities for translators and is incorporated into our classrooms. Its use can allow for a focus on higher-level activities in the model called human-in-the-loop or expert-in-the loop. Of course, we also teach all of the traditional translation methods as well so that students are prepared to take on the high-end, sensitive, and culturally-specific translation that large language models are not able to comprehend."

Dr. Kristine Rodriguez Kerr, Academic Director and Clinical Associate Professor in the MS in Professional Writing (MSPW) program: “In the MSPW, we are excited about ChatGPT and the attention it is bringing to writing and content production tools. We see these conversations as increasing the demand for the MSPW—as content production tools replace entry-level (and sometimes predatory) writing positions, the ability to lead projects and think strategically about communication endeavors will become even more important in professional settings. Likewise, the attention to all types of writing that professionals across industries produce has highlighted how text-heavy our working world truly is. We want our students to be leaders/fluent with these tools (ChatGPT is one of many, with more on the horizon) and have built a tech-focused curriculum that merges traditional writing development and communication theories with emerging writing practices and platforms. It’s an exciting time for professional writers!”

Dr. Hui Soo Chae, Executive Director, Learning and Teaching Nexus at NYU SPS: “I am fortunate to be part of a community of scholarly practitioners who are committed to the ethical and educative use of AI in and out of the classroom. SPS faculty members are leading important conversations with their students and colleagues about the opportunities, limitations, and challenges (e.g., the digital divide, fair use) associated with generative AI. Moreover, academic leaders at NYU are creating policies and crafting recommendations to make sure the university is preparing students to lead in the New Economy and shape the future of work.”

ChatGPT can give its user a draft of something to start molding, and that can be a time saver. Students and professionals are already using the technology. Recognizing its growing prevalence, and that better versions of ChatGPT will soon be available, teachers and administrators around the country are developing policies to address the best use of content generating tools within the classroom at the same time that professionals are considering how these tools might be shifting their everyday work. 


To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw

To learn more about the MS in Translation and Interpreting, visit sps.nyu.edu/translation

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