AI credentials could be the right algorithm for GCU students

The Colangelo College of Business is organizing sessions to help students earn credentials in fundamental artificial intelligence skills.

Do you really know what artificial intelligence is?

One Grand Canyon University professor wants to make sure students know more than what AI stands for and that GCU students are AI-ready in the eyes of employers. So he's kicking off what he hopes will become a series of sessions designed to help students earn various fundamental artificial intelligence credentials.

The first will be a free generative AI fundamental skills badge, a credential offered by Google Cloud.

“It’s the difference between knowing what AI is versus being able to demonstrate your understanding of AI to potential employers,” said Colangelo College of Business Faculty Chair Greg Lucas, who is teaching the debut session 1 p.m. Monday in the college's lobby. “If you say you know what AI is, and during an interview you are asked about LLM (large language models) or machine learning, you may not understand AI on the fundamental level employers are seeking.

“Within an hour, you can learn what the fundamentals of AI consist of and earn a credential to demonstrate that knowledge.”

CCOB Faculty Chair Greg Lucas will lead an "Introduction to Generative AI" session on Monday in the business college lobby.

That extra step beyond the classroom is something Lucas sees as enhancing students' job prospects, especially when they add that credential to their LinkedIn pages.

“I want to make sure our students are prepared for the workforce,” Lucas said. “We hear employers right now say, ‘Hey, we want to make sure that your students in our future workforce are proficient in AI,' just like President (Brian) Mueller has done here, challenged every department to use AI to become more efficient.”

Mueller has said that one of GCU's biggest challenges in the next decade will be mastering how to use AI. After trailblazing online education 15 years ago, GCU wants to do the same with AI.

"What technology and artificial intelligence will do is allow employees to spend more time building relationships and to be more creative, because those repetitive operational tasks will be done," Mueller said in GCU's 75th anniversary book, "75 Years of Purpose: 15 Years of Transformation."

The idea is for students to do the same: be proficient in AI and more efficient in their jobs, something employers are looking for.

John Kaites, who was named dean of the business college in October, encouraged Lucas to start the first lab this semester so seniors could earn a credential before graduating.

Greg Lucas joined the business college in the fall.

Lucas will explain what AI is during the first 30 minutes of Monday’s lab, followed by a quiz students take with the help of the Google Cloud learning path.

They will earn an "Introduction to Generative AI" completion credential as long as they answer at least 85% of the questions correctly.

“This session will show our students that AI is more than just a website," said Lucas. "The students will leave understanding how large learning models and machine learning play into AI. They will understand the inner working of AI.”

Lucas has scrolled through the webpages of recent badge recipients and said, “What I’ve enjoyed the most seeing is the industry saying congrats to the students."

The long-term plan, Lucas said, is to provide more hands-on AI sessions, starting with "Introduction to Generative AI" – with another session expected to be offered again this semester – and concluding with "Responsible AI," which would enable students to earn up to five Google credentials.

The biggest misconception, according to Lucas, is that AI belongs only in the technology field.

“(A student might say) ‘I'm not an engineering technology student,’" Lucas said. “ ‘I don't need AI.’ No, AI is everywhere. If you think about efficiencies, this is the greatest tool in human productivity.”

Lucas stressed that the "Introduction to Generative AI" lab should quell the fears of students who say they are afraid of AI, that their major does not fit with AI, or that AI will block them from getting a job.

“It's here to enhance your productivity, enhance human creativity, and that could be with marketing, with management – with, really, anything,” Lucas said. “So the more they get around this stuff, see what it is and learn about its potential behind the scenes, I think the more confident they will get about using it, as well.”

GCU News Senior Writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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