Bethlehem University faculty and staff have recently celebrated the successful completion of the first AI Training Program of its kind at the university. This capacity initiative, which concluded on 12 January 2024, marks a significant capacity-building milestone for the institution. This program emanated from the recommendations and organization of the special task force that was formed to explore the impact of emergent AI technologies, including ChatGPT, on the pedagogical, research, and administrative environments at Bethlehem University.

The task force, spearheaded by Professor Jamil Khader, Dean of Research and Professor of English, comprised Ms. Tina Hazboun (ITU), Dr. Rawan Gedeon (Faculty of Applied Sciences, Technology and Engineering), Dean Br. Alejandro Gonzalez Cerna (Faculty of Education), Dr. Najwan Adileh (Shucri Ibrahim Dabdoub Faculty of Business Administration), Mr. Layth Awwad (Faculty of Arts), Mr. Philip Daoud, Assistant Vice President for Information Technology Services, and Mr. Rafat Ishaq, Registrar.

The task force made several recommendations, including purchasing a plagiarism detection tool (TurnitIn), modifying the Academic Misconduct Policy, introducing an AI-related training course for both undergraduate and graduate students, and organizing an AI training course, among others.

The training program was designed to equip both faculty and staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to utilize this technology effectively in their teaching, research, and administrative activities and sidestep potential ethical problems associated with AI. This program was developed by the task force in response to a faculty needs survey and was tailored for faculty at varying levels of AI familiarity, from beginners to those seeking to deepen their understanding of this technology and its uses.

The program provided a comprehensive introduction to AI, its operational mechanisms, and a variety of AI-powered tools applicable across diverse educational, administrative, and university life contexts. It also included critical discussions on the ethical use of AI. Key topics covered a general introduction to AI, crafting effective prompts, utilizing AI tools in research, utilizing AI tools to enhance productivity, communication, and personal use, and the ethics of using AI in research and daily activities.

The sessions, which were conducted in both Arabic and English, were well attended and positively received. A total of 301 university personnel, including 164 faculty members across all departments and 137 staff members, participated in this program.

Participants indicated that these sessions empowered them to use this technology more effectively and encouraged them to explore its potential in the future to enhance their productivity and the quality of their work. Participants reported that the sessions not only empowered them to effectively utilize AI technology but also inspired them to further explore its potential in enhancing their productivity and the quality of their professional output.

This AI Training Program positions Bethlehem University as a leader in tech-forward education. It aligns with the university’s commitment to equipping its faculty, staff, and students with the competencies necessary to excel in an increasingly digitalized world.