Advancing opportunities for AI in higher education

Last month, LinkedIn released their Future of Work Report and found that new AI tools have the potential to lighten workloads and help professionals, like educators, focus on the most critical parts of their job.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on October 9, 2023, and was updated on November 15, 2023, to include the following: To simplify the user experience and make Copilot more accessible to everyone, Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise will now simply become Microsoft Copilot. For more information, visit 

Last month, LinkedIn released their Future of Work Report and found that new AI tools have the potential to lighten workloads and help professionals, like educators, focus on the most critical parts of their job. For educators, this means that generative AI likely can augment tasks such as lesson planning while giving time back for their top specialized skills in areas like differentiated instruction. For students, this report demonstrated the potential impact on the future of work where the skills required for many jobs have changed by 25% since 2015, with that number expected to reach at least 65% by 2030.

Today, we’re excited to share opportunities that will help support educators and prepare students for the future. We’re introducing a new course on Bing Chat for educators, the AI Classroom University Hackathon, and innovative work from Anthology, University of Michigan, the eight UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong, and Linköping University.

Learning how to use Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise

Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise for faculty are AI-powered chat solutions that leverage powerful AI models from OpenAI, offer links to content sources, provide up-to-date answers, and allow you to ask questions about what you’re viewing in the browser whether it’s a webpage or PDF. In just the last few weeks, new features have been announced including adding support for DALL.E 3 and creating Content Credentials for AI-generated images.

To help educators build AI literacy and make the most of these capabilities, we are introducing a free new module on Microsoft Learn: Enhancing teaching and learning with Bing Chat. It’s designed to guide educators through available features, learn how to create and iterate on prompts, and use their expertise to evaluate responses for overall quality and credibility. The module takes approximately an hour, is aligned to ISTE and UNESCO standards for educators, and builds on our introductory AI course for educators.

Announcing the AI Classroom University Hackathon

As the demand for AI and data related skills in the workforce grows, we are announcing a new opportunity for actively enrolled university undergraduates and graduate students to equip them with relevant experience. The AI Classroom University Hackathon is a global virtual challenge for students to reimagine the future of education using Azure AI and Azure Databases. Hackathon participants will be asked to solve for a real-world need in the future of learning and education, earning bonus points for their integration of Microsoft’s Responsible AI Principles.

The hackathon will run virtually from October 26th to December 5th, 2023, with $11,000 in prizes and opportunities to receive mentorship from Microsoft experts. To register for the hackathon, students are invited to sign up on Devpost where they’ll have access to the latest Microsoft Learn Resources on AI & Data.

As the demand for AI and data related skills in the workforce grows, students need opportunities to be equipped with relevant experience.

There will also be a launch event for Tampa area students in collaboration with the University of South Florida (USF) that will include AI-related activities, hackathon support, and a panel discussion. A leading public research university that is committed to advancing AI education and research, USF’s vision is to create an AI-forward campus where students are equipped with the skills and confidence to solve problems with AI. “At USF we want to empower our students to design the future they wish to see and are thrilled to partner with Microsoft on the skilling and technologies that will build the next generation of intelligent applications,” said Sidney Fernandes, Vice President and CIO at the University of South Florida.

Collaborating with Anthology to give time back to instructors

We are thrilled to share our recent collaboration with Anthology who are pioneering the use of generative AI capabilities, powered by the Azure OpenAI Service, in their flagship learning management system, Blackboard Learn. They are committed not only to assessing the opportunity for AI across their vast stack of EdTech solutions, but also to integrating it thoughtfully and responsibly. Anthology shares our commitment to responsible AI and has worked closely with their clients to build their Trustworthy AI Approach.

Knowing that instructors are central to the student experience, and how spread thin they can be, Anthology focused first on saving them time so they can spend more time with students and less time managing content. The AI Design Assistant in Blackboard Learn streamlines the course building process and gives experts a head start on creating engaging courses while keeping instructors in control. Using simple inputs, it can recommend course structures with titles and descriptions, standardize the rubric creation process, generate a diverse set of questions based on a document’s content, and provide royalty-free image options.

We can’t wait to hear your feedback and are encouraged by early excitement from the Anthology community. Hear more about how the AI Design Assistant is supporting instructors in the video below from Dr. Misty Cobb, Senior Product Manager at Anthology and Dr. Szymon Machajewski, Associate Director of Academic Technology & Instructional Innovation at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Bringing generative AI to the University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan, students, faculty, and staff can now tap into the power and possibilities of generative AI, thanks to a custom platform developed by U-M’s Information and Technology Services (ITS) in collaboration with Microsoft.

“At the core of our GenAI services is our commitment to provide tools and technologies that enhance, support, and augment humanity. We are confident that our community will utilize these services to make a positive difference in the world,” said Ravi Pendse, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at U-M. “The platform we built with Microsoft provides our users with AI tools that firmly emphasize the importance of equity, accessibility, and privacy.”

Whether it’s enhancing teaching and learning, acting as a resource for students, or serving as a catalyst for researchers, the platform offers options for all users. This is due to ITS’ thoughtful and intentional efforts to provide access to everyone, which included prioritizing user-centered design and incorporating accessibility in each stage of development to work towards compliance with international standards. ITS AI Services are already receiving positive attention from their community and they are continuing to share resources and guidance for them. Read more and stay tuned for updates on the University of Michigan’s generative AI services which integrate the Azure OpenAI Service.

Transforming the future of Hong Kong’s teaching and learning models

Microsoft Hong Kong is collaborating with the eight UGC-funded universities to drive the development of AI adoption and enable the use of generative AI through the Azure OpenAI Service. Collectively, their goal is to harness the potential of the latest AI models in developing their own solutions while benefiting from Microsoft’s comprehensive end-to-end enterprise-grade security measures, safeguarding sensitive research and ensuring data privacy within the academic environment.

They plan to make the technology available for professors, researchers, and students across the institutions to revolutionize the teaching and learning model and equip students with the necessary skills to utilize AI in their academic and professional careers. Stay tuned for future updates as they explore capabilities such as course design, student engagement, research and literature summary, and chatbots for university-wide operations.

Adopting Bing Chat Enterprise for faculty at Linköping University

We’ve been happy to hear from customers around the world who have started to adopt Bing Chat Enterprise for their faculty and staff, including Linköping University who is one of the first universities to leverage the service in Sweden. “Our community has been asking for the ability to use a generative AI solution, and I’m pleased to now be able to offer Bing Chat Enterprise due to the security and privacy that Microsoft provides” said Joakim Nejdeby, their Chief Information Officer. Their faculty, researchers, and employees are now exploring ways to search for information more efficiently, have assistance in conducting literature reviews, brainstorm ideas for projects and proposals, and draft educational content.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to see the continued progress on making the promise of AI real in higher education. We look forward to further supporting the development of AI skills for students and instructors as well as collaborating with our customers and partners. Start your AI journey today by taking our latest educator course on Bing Chat.