Hosted by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), the competition seeks entries that explain how journalism and mass communication (JMC) teachers have co-created new ways of learning and training and how they inspire and engage students in innovative ways to shape their classroom experience. This year's competition focused on creative teaching ideas for fostering freedom of innovation in the JMC classroom.

Loof and Costello's innovative teaching approach, titled "Clippy goes on the job hunt," involves encouraging students from the Department of Media & Journalism to use ChatGPT to interact with job descriptions and identify key responsibilities, themes and connections between their personal skills and job requirements. It also guides students in drafting compelling resumes and cover letters, fostering discussions about their career path and the potential of AI-aided work.

“The project started out in the media & journalism department’s Coyote Insights Lab. We have been working on a few projects related to AI, so we figured we should try to use these applications to get a better understanding from a user perspective,” Loof said. “It was really a lightbulb moment; we knew students outside our lab needed to know about this.”

The impact of this AI-guided teaching approach is broad. Students can gain a deeper understanding of mass communication job opportunities, learn to responsibly interact with AI and develop tailored job application materials using AI tools. 

“AI can, and does, have a place in higher education,” Loof said. “By utilizing tools now, students will be more prepared for a future work environment where AI technology is as commonplace as email.”

The teaching method not only streamlines the job application process for students, but it also highlights the capabilities and limitations of AI, demonstrating its practical application and potential pitfalls. 

“Technology is always changing, and as such, we will constantly need to build on this approach. We can either sit idly by or we can embrace these technologies that will have lasting impacts across a variety of fields,” Loof said. “To both Lori and I, this award is external validation to something we already knew, and that is, students at USD and in the media & journalism program are at the forefront of innovation in their respective majors.”

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