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Exploring Generative AI in higher education

  • 28 February 2023
  • By Matt Riddle

By Matt Riddle, Principal and Director of Learning Experiences, Curio

The higher education sector is undergoing a technological revolution, with AI tools like ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, and Midjourney leading the charge. These tools are transforming the way students learn and the way universities and workplaces operate.

HEPI / Curio Questionnaire: Contribute your views

We want to ensure that your institution is at the forefront of this change. HEPI and Curio are researching the impact of AI tools on universities in the UK. We are inviting you to play a crucial role in shaping the future of higher education by participating in a questionnaire to capture your insights and perspectives. To participate in the questionnaire, please follow this link:

Generative AI and higher education

Have you heard of generative AI? It’s a fascinating field of artificial intelligence that’s sweeping the world and making waves in higher education. AI tools are transforming the way students learn and the way universities and workplaces operate. But what is it, and why should we care?

In a nutshell, generative AI involves teaching a machine to learn from existing data and then use that knowledge to generate new data that is similar to the original dataset. This could include anything from text, images and even sounds. The goal is to mimic the way humans create new ideas, concepts and designs that are both diverse and novel.


One of the best-known examples of generative AI is ChatGPT. It’s a large language model developed by OpenAI that can generate human-like text based on the data it has learned. For instance, if you give ChatGPT the prompt, ‘The first person to walk on the Moon was,’ it will likely generate the response ‘Neil Armstrong’ based on the statistical distribution of words in English text.

But ChatGPT is just the beginning. Other generative AI tools are emerging, such as Bing’s ChatGPT-powered search capability and Google Bard, Alphabet’s equivalent project. Additionally, there are code generators like GitHub Copilot, text-to-image tools such as DALL-E 2 and text-to-speech tools like and Speechify.

Opportunities and challenges

As with any emerging technology, there are both opportunities and challenges that come with generative AI. With the right approach, these tools can accelerate learning and the development of higher-order thinking skills. On the other hand, concerns about the widespread use of generative AI in assessments have arisen, particularly around ensuring the integrity of student work. Some have pointed out this is a chance to rethinkhigher education assessment.

In the higher education sector, generative AI can be a game-changer. It offers learners the chance to focus on other literacies and transferable skills, while also challenging educators to create more authentic assessments. Authentic assessments are designed to measure students’ knowledge and skills in a way that is relevant to their lives and future careers.

Of course, it’s important to consider the implications of generative AI on more broadly. With the rapid proliferation of AI-generated content and disinformation, there is a need to refocus education on critical consumption, or what Howard Rheingold called ‘crap detection’. As long as we approach the use of generative AI in education with a thoughtful and nuanced perspective, it has the potential to revolutionise the learning experience.

A further challenge is that the field of generative AI is quickly evolving, and universities are struggling to keep up with the educational policy, practice, and technology changes that come with it. It’s important that we as educators and thought leaders stay engaged in the conversation and continue to explore the opportunities and challenges that come with this emerging field.

If you’re interested in contributing to the conversation, we encourage you to participate in a questionnaire linked at the top of this article. Your insights can help shape the future of generative AI and its impact on education.

About Curio

We advise institutions, organisations, and thought leaders to translate expertise into forward-thinking learning and development solutions. If you are facing some of the challenges raised in this article and would like a deeper dive, please feel free to reach out at [email protected].

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