The State of Education and Generative AI

The State of Education and Generative AI

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, generally, and then also specifically generative artificial intelligence, the opportunity in higher ed is tremendous.” – Dr. Asim Ali

✅ Generative AI will make an impact in all phases of education.
✅ There should be more collaboration between educational institutions.
✅ We have to pay attention to the quality of our programs and technologies.
✅ The educational landscape is continuously changing and we have to stay ready.

In the season 2 finale I talk to Dr. Asim Ali of Auburn University, to talk about the constantly-changing higher education and continuing ed environment and the impact generative AI will have to students, faculty, and administrators. Dr. Ali leads an amazing team as the Executive Director of the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. His degrees in software engineering, information systems management, and adult education have made him a great person to lead the charge in discussing generative AI in education and its future uses.

Join us and listen to Dr. Ali speak about his path in education and how technology, mostly generative AI, will make a lasting impression in all of our education systems, jobs, and the way we work.

Links from the episode👇👇
Dr. Asim Ali’s LinkedIn
Dr. Ali at Auburn University
Meni’s LinkedIn
The Education Beyond Degrees Podcast Homepage



Meni: Hey, I’m Meni Sarris, and this is the Education Beyond Degrees podcast with The Spur Group, the podcast where a continuing education geek goes behind the scenes to talk shop about the people, trends, and ideas impacting our space.

In today’s episode, we have my friend and colleague, Dr. Asim Ali, the Executive Director of the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Auburn University.

Asim,.Thank you so much for coming on.

Asim: Hey, it’s great to be here, Meni. Thanks so much for having me.

Meni: All right so I gave a little bit of an introduction and gave your title and everything, but tell us what your role actually is at Auburn.

Asim: Yeah, I think I can most liken it to what a typical academic innovation and learning center would be at most modern universities. And Auburn is really fortunate to have. Administrative support. And then as well as just historical alumni support through endowments. And so we’ve established what we call the Biggio Center quite a while ago. And it was a very traditional center for teaching and learning. And then over the years, what we’ve done, and then the most recent iteration change of it was in 2020, January of 2020, when I started this role, but essentially it’s Auburn online, which I founded about 10 years ago merged with a testing center, which allows for academic testing and assessment design support as well as our Prometric, Pearson VUE, and other vendor based testing on campus.

And then we’ve got what we call Engaged Active Student Learning, EASL, or Active Learning Spaces several buildings on campus and then we’ve got our instructional technology support, so our Canvas Learning Management System, as well as Zoom and some of the other enterprise kinds of learning software that supported and then our classic Center for Teaching and Learning, educational development, professional development, support for all faculty across campus.

So all of those different units report to me and essentially we support all faculty, all learners on campus as well as online.

Meni: So when you started in Auburn, what was it like 2004, right?

Asim: That’s right. I had just graduated with my undergraduate in software engineering at Auburn and took a job doing IT project management for one of the colleges on campus, decided to stay close to home and experienced that.

And it’s been a great start. It was a great start to the career. And then finish my master’s in information systems management while I was working and then changed jobs into the provost office, helping with some strategic goals that we had established as part of a new strategic plan about 10 years ago or so, and really got into online learning.

Meni: We’ve been friends for so long now. Actually, I don’t even know this answer. What did you think your path was when you started in 2004? What did you think your goal was where you were going to be as you, as you navigated the Auburn system?

Asim: Yeah, I try not to over plan I guess in terms of life. And so I knew that there was intangibles that sometimes you can control and then there’s you know, intangibles in life that you can and there’s more of a philosophical answer, I guess. But I always want to be doing what I would consider to be meaningful work that I enjoy doing that I feel is helping people. My dad was a faculty member for 45 years. And so I just, you know, that’s kind of just the environment I grew up in.

And so to me, I, a higher ed, you know, I, I kind of buy into that whole mission and calling of education in general. And so I thought, you know, just give this a try and see how it goes. And then other opportunities arise. We’ll kind of just go with the flow and that’s kind of what it’s been.

Meni: As academics, I understand what you do and other people that are in academia understand what you do. How do you explain what you do to like your family and friends? What’s the easiest way to describe what you do on a daily basis?

Asim: Yeah, I’ll ask my wife to especially listen to this answer. Cause I think she she tries every single time somebody asked her that’s pretty funny, but in higher ed, we we kind of have a flirtation with both the research mission as well as the instructional mission at institutions and and just because of the way our society is set up, we tend to really focus a lot on the research mission but how most people interact with us is through the instructional mission. And recently there was a really good article in the Chronicle about the importance of quality teaching and that’s really where we see ourselves is how do we empower faculty to discover that opportunity within themselves of being better at the craft of instruction and reaching their students and empowering them to basically identify ways to be better at at the teaching aspect of their their work and how can we support them to reach even their, their craziest dreams in many cases.

And so all of that, I know we sometimes summarize as innovative pedagogy or things like that, but at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is how do we basically, support faculty and instructors at Auburn University to do their best work when it comes to reaching the learners that they’re teaching?

Meni: This last year plus has been super interesting for you and me watching from a distance what you’ve been doing. This AI space has been wild ever since chat GPT last year and the things that have been going on in the conversations in higher ed and AI. It has been really, really fun to watch you become kind of like our expert in understanding the use of AI and and what it means in higher ed.

And one of the things that I find just amazing that you’ve done is that you and your team have created a course called teaching with AI at Auburn. This is awesome, like an amazing idea, a great program. I see people with these badges popping up on LinkedIn. Tell us more about why you decided to create that program, how it’s been going, and how it’s been evolving since it first started being offered.

Asim: Yeah, that’s a, a big question. So let me kind of thank you for the kind comments first. You know, any expertise that I have is merely it’s to call anyone an expert in AI is is, you know, it’s, there’s maybe a handful in in the, in the world. And, and certainly I just try to keep up essentially, and, I do have an interesting academic background with again, my background being software engineering and information systems management, my doctoral work being in education. It always feels weird, you know, it has felt weird for a long time at a traditional institution to have that type of disciplinary diversity in coursework and degrees.

But I really like, part of me feels like I was kind of made for this moment, in a weird way because. I took classes in artificial intelligence in my undergrad and things like that and so to me, I think understanding what the promise of AI is and then what the potential perils of it is of it are and then just what we mean when we say effective teaching and learning all that has just a natural alignment if we’re willing to seize the moment.

And so to just to be at an institution that had the foresight to combine our Auburn Online, which is our course development, online development support, asynchronous learning, hybrid course design with traditional, you know, course, faculty development, educational development unit, really just us and in such a remarkable position. You know, we’ve been talking about for the last 10 years, many of the circles that we run around the idea of why it’s important to reach professionals with these asynchronous online programs about how they’re busy working and busy in their lives, and we need to give them the opportunity to upscale, you know, when it comes to artificial intelligence, generally, and then also specifically generative artificial intelligence, the opportunity in higher ed is tremendous and those professionals that we talk about needing to reach for upskilling, those are our faculty. They are busy with just 100 percent of what faculty positions have grown into and just they are 100 percent of a job already. And then just busy with their personal lives, especially coming off of a pandemic and just having to figure out what their safe and good space is where they can be most productive.

And then now, you know, this the generative AI thing being such a big deal. So we just found ourself in a place where we had the teams whose expertise aligns really well and so I teach on our campus as well. I teach in our college of business. I teach an information systems management course to about 130.= mostly sophomores and some juniors on campus. And I used to do an essay assignment and I decided over the holiday break last year, like that doesn’t make sense to do anymore. I need to think about what I want to do. Happy to, you know, dive into that a little bit later as well. But so essentially when we got back in January, I met with our leadership team and said, you know, Hey, we, we need to, Develop a way for faculty to be able to learn about what’s happening with generative AI and how to use it in their teaching.

I’ve got just an incredible team. The Biggio center is just, I mean, we’ve got talented folks throughout all of our units and and honestly they ran with that idea, you know, this idea of we’ve been talking about asynchronous online learning. We talk about self paced, self directed learning, some of my background is in and anytime that there’s transformative work, it’s not going to all happen at the same time. Faculty, anybody, any professional is going to come to it at different times at different spaces, different opportunities. And so we need to make sure that it’s not just, oh, you missed that one, one off event we did back in March. So now you can’t learn this thing.

 We have to be able to create those learning opportunities. So what we said was, let’s develop a fully online self paced, self directed course. That anyone could sign up for on our campus faculty, graduate students, professional staff, just as a way to know what kind of how generative artificial intelligence aligns with the the just evergreen sound teaching.

And, and that’s what we did and it allows us to showcase just how Auburn online builds amazing beautiful learning experiences. And it allows us to showcase the, the sound teaching principles and that we talk about in terms of effective teaching and learning and and that’s essentially what the course was is eight modules and we had hundreds of folks sign up in the spring as we launched the course.

The Southeastern Conference has an AI consortium that’s been meeting for a couple of years and in the summer, the Southeastern Conference, Lene Macdonald over. At the Southeastern Conference academic arm inquired about being able to license the course for all of the other campuses. And so we developed and updated the version of the course that we had to be available for all of our Southeastern Conference partner institutions.

And in that process, we said, you know, why don’t we just make it available broadly? You know, I believe in that, just not only the educational mission that we talked about, but I think the future of higher ed is more collaboration across our institutions. And so we developed this course, we price it to the point that just allows us to recover our licensing costs and some of our administrative costs, but essentially just make it available as broadly as possible.

And so since then we’ve had I think last count was maybe some somewhere around 45 institutions or so several thousands of folks across the country and a couple of international institutions that are signed up. To go through basically these courses and and faculty come to it in all different ways, some set aside a whole weekend and go through the entire eight modules. It takes them about 8 10 hours. And they just knock it out over a weekend and then some set aside about an hour a week over several, several weeks and go through it. And some do module three, three times and, you know, all different kinds of things in terms of designing courses and designing assignments.

So anyway, that’s kind of been the story of that course, just again, just having a talented team and empowering them to do their best work and, and and that’s really been the key.

Meni: That course is such a good idea. It makes total sense that you guys were the ones who thought of it and started building and offering it to these institutions and these thousands of people who have been taking it. I’ve seen you present on AI at conferences. I’ve seen you keynote. I’ve seen you talk with panels. And you mentioned something that was really interesting in that answer. Talking about the promise and the perils of AI in education. And this is almost every single conversation that you’re in or where AI comes up, everybody always talks about the fear of AI. And how it’s going to change how people work or take people’s jobs away or students are going to cheat and use it and things won’t be the same. It won’t. The honesty will be gone in education. I’m curious from your perspective, and I know this is probably a very long answer, so maybe maybe we’ll simplify it down. What do you see from your perspective? I think the promise. is an interesting question. And we’ll talk about it about with your students also to kind of ease some of the fears of people who are thinking about AI use and not just higher education, but kind of in workforce in general, where, where do you see a little bit of the promise and a little bit of the perils coming up in, in artificial intelligence being used in our societies?

Asim: Yeah. So, I mean, I want to first differentiate between artificial intelligence more generally, which are systems that allow us to Make a lot of sense, you know, just the around machine learning and just around make a lot of sense about the data rich society that we live in. And then generative artificial intelligence that allows us to use that same data to basically create predictive text or content.

And so When I talk about the perils, I think first and foremost, there is a peril to individual professionals by ignoring AI and generative AI specifically. So I do think that there is, that shouldn’t be an option. I think people do need to at least engage with it in whatever minor way or whatever full dive in kind of a way to at least be familiar with the technology, the platform, the main platforms that we talked about. So I think the first and foremost, the peril to people is if they just completely choose to ignore it and pretend like it’s not something that exists that the time for that has, has long passed. I think the, the second peril is if we’re not thoughtful about how to implement it.

 If we think about how we’ve been using AI. how industry that has had AI is as part of their models for a long time, how they’ve used it, right? So when we look at weather predictions on our apps, That’s gotten more, more precise. I can rely more on the weather prediction 10 days from now than I used to be able to five or 10 years ago.

The GPS routes that we rely on and simple kinds of things like that. And most of that has been behind the scenes, right? How well Amazon is able to predict what else we want to buy and those kinds of things. That’s kind of been a little bit behind the scenes when I see a lot of AI being generative AI as well as just general AI being proposed in higher ed, it seems to be that we’re going straight for the direct in front of students kind of options, right? Chatbots and things like that. And I think there’s a place for those, but I hope we don’t ignore the very real opportunity that exists In improving the back end processes and just empowering our professionals on our campuses to be far better at what they’re already hired to do with the advantage of AI driven systems.

And I think that has a lot more promise to me. Then immediately trying to just be in between the student and the teacher or be in between the student and the institution and trying to create bots that kind of answer those questions that the students may have. Now, again, there’s certainly a purpose in doing that as well but it shouldn’t come at, at, you know, the expense of not doing the other, which is more behind the scenes stuff.

I think, I think that’s going to have a, a bigger impact, in fact. So, you know, and then of course, certainly just the perils also have to include there is a very real threat, Meni to people’s jobs. I mean, I don’t want to sugarcoat that in any way. There our institutions are full of inefficient processes that are cumbersome you know, for folks.

And unfortunately, a lot of those processes are done by people who are the most in need of, of that job that we’ve created for them to have. And so we do need to be very real and institutions do need to be very clear and upfront about what the process is of not just implementing AI and generative AI and their processes, but also how do we upscale the people that are doing that work to be ready for those changes so that we don’t have you know, just a tremendous impact in terms of our employment of folks that are doing the work on campuses.

So you know, I mean, that that is a very real concern, to be quite frank. I don’t think that we’ll get to the point where we don’t need to be hiring faculty or, or things like that. I don’t think that that’s where things are headed if anything. I think we’re headed towards people being able to be more effective and more, more personal in terms of the. Education that we’re able to deliver in terms of the processes that we’re able to create for students and professional staff and faculty to go through at our institutions. So I think I think there are opportunities to make bad decisions, you know, quite frankly, is probably the easiest way to say that.

And so being able to make thoughtful decisions becomes important.

Meni: I’m really glad you brought up processes and how generative AI and the future of work is going to look at how we do these things internally. And one of the things I was actually presenting at a conference. Last week, and one of the things that we focused on was processes, automations, and how to create a way of doing things more efficiently.

And one of the things that we discussed in that was the actual use of AI to understand how to create these automations, these workflows to address the bigger need in any workplace, which is typically how do we do more with the technology that’s made available to us? And I think as we look at the students and the younger generation that’s coming through the university system right now, or even the lifelong learners or those who are taking the continuing ed courses who are trying to come back into the workforce.

It’s really interesting to talk about it the way you just did in looking at AI as a tool that allows for better automations, better efficiencies. But not necessarily having the fear of needing to replace lots of jobs, but more likely, or maybe not more likely, but a better chance of creating a more efficient way of working within those teams.

And I agree with you. I think there are some jobs that will be replaced, and there are some jobs that AI will be able to take care of, but they’re also going to be a lot of jobs that are created by the use of this type of technology. Don’t you think?

Asim: Oh, absolutely. I think the opportunity is very real if we’re willing to seize it in terms of you know, in many ways the pandemic allowed us to evolve faster in terms of some of the key decisions and processes we need to implement at institutions. And I think a I again allows us an opportunity to address some of those evolutionary needs, I guess, is a way to say that where we do need to adapt to what learners are looking for and and the need that exists from that perspective, right?

 I think about my students. I think about my Children in terms of you know, being ready at institutional level for what they need. And proper use of AI allows us to reach more people in a way that they want to, they, in a way that they can learn better, in a way that they can engage better and and that’s an opportunity worth exploring and not ignoring

Meni: in 2019 in your dissertation, the impact on student academic performance of a self-directed premier ebook and a follow on organic chemistry course. Great title, by the way, your findings showed that the use of a self directed primer ebook yielded a significant positive result on the final exam scores, which, you know, it makes sense.

I wonder. Looking back at your doctoral work and, you know, obviously when you’re in the dissertation writing stage, your, your brain is all going in different directions. Have you had a chance to reflect back on that to see, instead of thinking about a self directed primer ebook, how does AI compare to that ebook and how do you think that would translate in terms of the findings of use of AI in the classroom today.

Asim: Yeah, man, what a fantastic question. I, I think about it you know, one of the things that we highlighted was that all students were helped. You know, so again, just worked with several thousand students over, over about five year period that take our organic chemistry course on campus and basically what we learn and, you know, and this is not a, it’s not a shocking surprise to anyone, I’m sure, but if you take a first course, like an organic chemistry one then the students go on to take organic chemistry two, they don’t retain as much of organic chemistry one as they should.

And it affects their performance in the follow on course. Well, if all we do is the instructor says, you know what, here are the key things you should have remembered from the first course before you dive into the second course. And then just make that available as a self directed ebook to them that that the students go through that material. And as a result of that, they do better in the follow along course. I mean, again, you know, not a not a genius finding maybe but but showing that that self directed learning does have a space. So giving giving learners agency. And giving them direction on on what to focus their learning on. But then, and then being able to dive in and actually make it make it make sense for themselves is an important step.

And again, yeah, you’re absolutely right. Generative AI has a role in that, right? So some of the stuff that we’re seeing in terms of personalized learning or tutors, just yesterday, I had an opportunity to see the origin of how Fonmigo came about with the Fon Academy. And some of that impressive work that a lot of ed tech companies, but then also many faculty at many institutions are doing I think that’s that’s absolutely an opportunity to dive in.

So we’re we’re working with a few faculty on our campus to, to be able to see how we can create tutor bots and things like that for them or, and leverage some of the technology that exists. And I think from that perspective, what we’re finding is, Yeah. That students, you know, because of our limited resources, sometimes we only help the at risk student, but there are a lot of students on our campuses that are maybe showing up as a C students that could be B or a students if they had some of the access to the same resources.

And so what we’re able to do is again, it’d be worth doing a study again on, on retention and STEM majors. A lot of students leave STEM majors because they get a poor grade in the first course or in the second course. And so can we reach those C students and help them be B or A students and help some of that STEM retention as well.

And so there’s lots of I think opportunities for seeing how it all relates there.

Meni: It’s really interesting how we talk about, generative AI, the changes in education, the change in the educational landscape. It feels like ever since the beginning of the pandemic, the world of higher ed and education in general has innovated, changed, adjusted, and become something so different than what it was in these last four years.

I’m curious, as you see this evolution of higher ed and even, in the continuing professional education space that I know you spend a little bit of time in, how do you see higher ed and continuing ed evolving in the next 10 years?

Asim: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. The question about where higher ed is headed for the next 5 to 10 years can be many different things. I think what’s important to note as a result of the pandemic, as a result of generative AI, as a result of just a lot of other transformational Things happening around us is that a lot more people can partake in it. So hopefully we’re not only in tune with our access goals in terms of reaching more learners, but we’re also in tune with our access goals in terms of reaching more educators to have access to resources and then allowing them opportunities to engage with with resources and sometimes, you know, it may not not all the answers have to deal with technology, But in many ways, just having access to space and having access to time and having access to strategies that can help. And so, for the next five to 10 years again it’s hard to say but but my the things that I look to our, can we have institutions that are reaching more learners? Can we have institutions that are ensuring that those learners are engaging in programs and engaging in learning opportunities that are, first of all, helping them achieve the goals that they want? So at Auburn, our QEP, which is our, you know, our accreditation quality enhancement program 10 years, is focused on post graduation outcomes.

Again, we have Percentage wise, you know, we have very high percentages of students that graduate and go on to jobs or go on to graduate school, but then can we measure if they are, if they’re the high quality jobs or the high quality postgraduate admissions that they’re looking for? And a lot of that has to do with them being able to articulate the skills and the experiences that they’re gaining.

And so that’s something that we’re focused on at Auburn, and I know that a lot of other institutions are identifying ways. To be able to again, reach more learners and also be able to make sure that they’re actually learning and then they’re actually learning the things that we want them to be learning.

So I see that continuing considerably. It’ll be interesting to see how institutions respond to the just continual, economic pressures that we face in terms of budgets and in terms of access to college ready learners and things like that. And so How we’re able to make ourselves more efficient will become more and more important how we’re able to address our business processes, how we’re able to address our learning processes to be able to reach more folks will become important.

You know, at Auburn we implemented, we started using canvas about 13 years ago or so we were one of the large universities to adopt canvas. One of the first large universities in the country to adopt canvas outside of the state of Utah. And we’ve had a lot of folks using canvas, but in many ways they were just using it as a file repository.

And then, as a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen a greater use of a deeper use of canvas. And so things like that have I think give point to maybe continual improvements in terms of how we’re reaching people, how we’re ensuring that the quality of what we’re delivering continues to, to be better.

And then those post graduation outcomes continue to be more aligned with what we expect as a result of the investment in higher education that many families are making.

Meni: The accessibility thing is really, Interesting, giving access to students has been a topic that we’ve talked about in several episodes with several leaders. And one of the things that I always come back to is. We have so many students who are going to be coming back to the classroom, who’ve already graduated, who are looking to get a new job, get a new skill, trying to figure out what next to do in life because burnout rates are getting higher, they don’t want to work at the same company, or there’s, for so many different reasons, they’re choosing to make a career change.

I really wonder, you know, You know, I’m biased because I live and breathe continuing professional education, but I really wonder from an academic perspective in terms of how to engage those students and how to, not just give them the access, but give them the tools that they need to be successful in whatever their future plans are.

Do you think that our system, I’m not even talking about Auburn specifically, just the system, is already prepared or do you think you’re, they’re ready for giving that type of access plus the support that those students actually need?

Asim: I think parts of the system are. I really enjoy the conversation about alternative or micro credentials. I think that that is a key enabler in terms of not just changing jobs, but changing careers, as you mentioned and I think, how do we how do we make sure that the kinds of opportunities that we’re offering align with what the students need, what potential, what prospective learners need. There are capacity opportunities at many institutions and and so if we have the talented folks And available to teach and if we have the talented professional staff able to help them develop high quality learning and we have the economic need for that. Then all the signs point to yes. I think certainly the challenges in the doing and that’s where we need to have thoughtful leadership and we need to have engaged faculty and engaged professional staff engaged learners.

And so the proof is in the pudding, as they say. But so in this situation that it can be done. We we have to again have to create the opportunity and we have to seize the opportunity. That’s that’s before us. Quite frankly, I see the work that some other institutions are doing in terms of alternative credentials.

Excellent work being done by institutions like Oregon State you know, and then I’m just, you know, seeing the work in terms of reaching a massive amount of learners. At institutions like Arizona State. I think those institutions create we can’t have hundreds of those institutions in the country in the world, but there is an opportunity for many of those institutions to to do those personal proof of concepts that can be applied to the culture that exists at different institutions and ways that meet our needs and meet meet the needs of the learners that we’re trying to reach as well. And if I kind of go back to that five to 10 year question as well. I think one of the other things that we see is If there are lots of options in terms of online or micro credentials, and then if there are just fewer learners who have ability to access that learning the other and any kind of product if I can call it that in terms of higher ed that we talk about.

 When you when you have lots of providers trying to reach the same kind of learners, then quality becomes a big differentiator. And I think that’s where you know, the work that we’re doing in Auburn becomes important. The work that many of my colleagues around the country are doing on their institutions at their institutions in terms of the enhancement of quality of the teaching and learning becomes very important because that becomes a differentiator for us, right?

Is is that We can reach those learners and not only can reach them, we can ensure them based on our data based on our ability to invest in high quality learning that we are developing the learning that’s actually beneficial and that’s actually useful. It’s not just It’s designed to pay a bill or, or cut a check or generate revenue, but it’s actually in it for the, for the reason of, of empowering learners and enhancing the economies that exist in our, in our areas.

Meni: You mentioned Oregon State and ASU. I think one of the things that those two schools have in common is Their leadership is very much invested in these new enterprising ways of doing education, and I think one of the things that’s extremely exciting about the future of education from our perspective from, what you just said, is there’s a new group of leaders coming in who look at education a little bit differently, who look at the possibility, who understand the technology, who understand the support that’s needed. And I think, as you move into your 20th year at Auburn, which is crazy because you’re such a young guy. As you move into your 20th year at Auburn, there’s been so much change that has happened in the educational landscape in those 20 years.

I think it’s going to be so interesting as. We get new presidents, new provost, new academic leaders who understand that it’s a more well rounded education and student journey that allows for our students to get the training they need, get the education they need, the degrees they need, and then come back in case they need more.

I wonder, as we kind of come to a close, as you get into your 20th year at Auburn and you kind of look forward to, what the future holds for you, what do you ultimately want your legacy to be in higher ed or in the education space or, or any part of what we do at higher ed?

Asim: Yeah, what an interesting question because legacy implies that somehow I need to be thinking about how I’m wrapping things up.

And to me, in many ways, I feel like I’m just getting started. And so the first 10 years of my career at Auburn, I did a lot of information technology work essentially supporting college and some enterprise kinds of things to to ensure that. So, but a lot of the work was just basically in the information technology space.

The last 10 years has been really focused on online learning, setting up Auburn Online in a way that makes sense for the culture that exists at Auburn University and launching our first ever undergraduate online programs and supporting faculty that are engaged in wanting to teach online and giving them the tools and the resources that they need to do that in a compelling and in a high quality way.

And, you know, I’ve really enjoyed that aspect for the last 10 years. This next 10 years I really see artificial intelligence being such a critical piece of how it impacts. You know, you’re exactly right. Things have not only changed tremendously in the landscape of higher ed in the last 20 years, but the pace of that change is also increasing.

And so how do we stay ready for that? And yeah, man, honestly, Meni, it feels like in many ways, I’m just getting started. And a lot of that and I’m looking forward to just the work that I’m able to do and they have the opportunity to do. I love engaging with faculty on our campus, my colleagues and the Biggio Center at Auburn, as well as our, partners, our units on campus.

And then I especially love just working with like minded colleagues across institutions across the country. It’s just I find so much energy nourishment in that and so the opportunity to continue to collaborate and continue to work with folks who do just meaningful work. And hopefully just in some small way, play a part in educating folks and helping them achieve the dream.

I’m two generations removed from a farm in India, essentially. And so just thinking about the luxuries that I enjoy in my life and how education has played such a critical role in allowing me to provide for my family and create opportunity for my Children just, it shouldn’t be a remarkable story, it should be a common story. And I want to see how can we create that opportunity for that to be a common story for many people in the state of Alabama, many people in the United States and just people around the world.

Meni: Well, your journey has been an awesome one. I’m so glad that I had a chance to meet you, Jesus, but almost about 10 years now and, we presented a long, long time ago on something and I don’t remember what it was, but I mean, that was so long ago. Like, it was a different world back then and seeing you really take the reins on, on, on This AI conversation in education and really are looked at as a leader, as an innovator, as a great thinker in the education space.

I can’t imagine somebody better to move us through the next generation of educational speaking and thinking than you and the work that you’re doing right now. So not only do I want to thank you for continuing to be on the forefront of thought and thinking and education, but I really want to thank you for being on today’s podcast.

Thank you so much for taking the time today.

Asim: Hey, man, I appreciate the opportunity. You know, love engaging with thoughtful folks like you. It’s very kind of you say all those things. I just love engaging with folks and talking about these things and moving the needle forward.,

Meni: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Education Beyond Degrees podcast with The Spur Group. If you liked what you heard, you can find this episode along with a ton of other resources on the website. See you on the next episode.