A new centre of excellence has been established at Kiel University of Applied Sciences since 1 September 2022. Initiator Prof. Dr. Doris Weßels and other founding members from German universities want to use it to analyse current developments in AI-supported writing processes and to do educational work.
Since 1 September, the Kiel University of Applied Sciences (FH) has been enriched by a competence centre. Dr. Doris Weßels, Professor of Business Informatics, has founded the Virtual Competence Centre “Teaching and Learning Writing with Artificial Intelligence – Tools and Techniques for Education and Science” together with the associated partner KI-Campus and other stakeholders.
“Such a centre represents a novelty in Germany,” Weßels explains the special feature of the new foundation. “AI in connection with language – in written as well as spoken form – is one of the essential technologies of the future. Language is power. If we don’t deal with it more in Germany and Europe, we risk being left behind.” Since the market in this area is growing extraordinarily fast and the offers are also extremely low-threshold, writing AI could change teaching and society in the long term.
That is why the goals of the competence centre do not only include research and knowledge transfer on AI-supported writing. It is also about creating qualified training offers with which teachers can incorporate the technology into their own educational offers. Learners will also be introduced to these new possibilities through AI writing workshops. “Our goal is to raise awareness of this new key technology among both teachers and learners and to initiate a discourse on the use of AI language models. Ultimately, it is about educational work, because the accompanying changes in education and science are not yet perceived as such,” is Weßels’ objective.
An associated partner of the centre of excellence is the AI Campus, the learning platform for artificial intelligence. In the AI ExpertLab of the AI Campus, Weßels heads the working group “AI and Academic Writing”, which provided the impetus for the foundation. “We are delighted about the emergence of the centre of excellence,” says Stefan Göllner, Innovation Manager of the AI Campus, and is certain: “The centre will provide impetus for education, debate and further training in this important subject area.”
Since November 2021, the state of Schleswig-Holstein has been funding Weßel’s AI project “The academic writing of students in the age of AI: Explorative pilot study at universities in Schleswig-Holstein” with 150,000 euros. The results so far have shown the professor that there is a cross-disciplinary need for the creation of this new centre of excellence. Weßels: “We need the expertise of different actors with their subject-specific perspectives, for example from computer science, educational research and didactics of writing. With the competence centre, we want to network them supraregionally and thus ensure transdisciplinary cooperation.”
The state of Schleswig-Holstein welcomes the establishment of the Virtual Competence Centre at Kiel University of Applied Sciences. Digitisation Minister Dirk Schrödter is convinced that the state funding is going to the right place. “AI has become a megatrend in digitisation. Schleswig-Holstein is at the forefront nationwide with its AI state strategy. The topic belongs at every university, and Kiel UAS has long recognised this. The new centre of excellence has therefore come to the right place at exactly the right time. I am pleased that we were able to support the launch with state funding.”
Scientific contact persons:
Prof. Dr. Doris Weßels
Kiel University of Applied Sciences, Department of Economics