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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Faculty Senate senator raises concerns about Blackboard, artificial intelligence

Jacinda Hall
Susan Sterrett, a senator from philosophy, shares concerns on Wichita State’s relationships with Anthology, Blackboard’s parent company, and Microsoft during a Faculty Senate meeting on March 25.

In a postponed presentation, Susan Sterrett, a Faculty Senate senator from philosophy, spoke with concern about the university’s relationships with Anthology, Blackboard’s parent company, and Microsoft and their artificial intelligence (AI) models.

Anthology is a privately-owned company, which means that it does not have to disclose its financial and business operations to the public. Sterrett compared it to Instructure, a publicly-owned company that owns Blackboard’s competitor, Canvas.

Sterrett outlined three concerns in her presentation: protecting students’ data privacy, protecting faculty’s “moral right” to authorship of their works, and security against cyberattacks.

In regards to AI, Sterrrett was mostly concerned with OpenAI, the AI research organization behind ChatGPT. She described OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, as having an “appetite” for content and pulling data to feed their AI.

John Jones, executive director of the Media Resources Center, who has been instrumental in the university’s transition to Blackboard Ultra, clarified the university’s unique relationship with both Anthology and Microsoft’s AI ventures.

Because the university is a business, it has different terms and conditions than the terms and conditions for the public.

The university previously looked into a move to Canvas in 2016 but ultimately decided that the move would be too expensive, according to Jones.

Now that the university has committed to integrating with Blackboard and moving to Blackboard Ultra, Jones said it would be even more difficult and expensive for the university to receive the same quality of service from Canvas as they do from Blackboard.

Further, the university employs a data management committee, which is charged with reviewing any new software or digital tools that the university uses. This committee also reviews and reconsiders the university’s relationships with software vendors each time those contracts are up for renewal.

There are seven generative AI tools that the university has turned on in Blackboard, according to Jones’ notes. They are all on the instructor’s end and that data is not used to train Microsoft’s AI models.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is on April 9 at 3:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall 110A.

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Jacinda Hall, Podcast Editor
Jacinda Hall is the podcast editor for The Sunflower. Hall is a junior majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in English literature. Her favorite quote is by Kurt Cobain: “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” In her free time, Hall likes to go to the gym, crochet and make fancy beverages. Hall's pronouns are she/her.

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