AI on Campus: The Wild Frontier

Brett Christie, Ph.D.
VP, Educational Innovation & Inclusivity

While attending the GRAILE (Global Research Alliance for AI in Learning and Education) workshop in Denver on July 13, 2023, I had the opportunity to explore AI strategy, vision, and policy for higher education with stakeholders from across the country. Throughout the event, AI policy was a hot topic of discussion, as campus and industry leaders grappled with how to provide adequate guidance around this emerging technology. The consensus was that most institutions are unprepared in terms of having comprehensive policies or effectively harnessing AI for teaching and learning. So when Van Davis, Chief Strategy Officer for WCET shared the organization’s timely survey report, I was eager to dive in and summarize the key findings. The survey results reveal an AI Wild West spreading across campuses with few sheriffs in sight, as colleges try to navigate potential promises and pitfalls. But the risks of inaction are too dire – with thoughtful policies and implementation, AI could positively transform higher education rather than undermine it.

The Wild West of AI in Higher Ed

A new survey reveals the rapid, unbridled spread of artificial intelligence on college campuses, despite sparse policies and strategies to harness its potential.

The survey by WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies – polled over 600 higher ed professionals on their institution’s use of AI in instruction and learning. The results depict an AI frontier with high promise but few laws.


  • AI is spreading far and wide, but sporadically. 60% of institutions are using AI in spots but lack comprehensive rollouts. Hot applications: catching cheaters and assisting writing. 
  • Policies? What policies? Only 8% of institutions have implemented AI policies, while 87% either have none or are just starting on them. The policy vacuum poses big risks.
  • Faculty are flying blind. With no policies or training at most schools, professors are left outgunned. 75% of institutions give no AI incentives and 55% offer no AI training to faculty.  
  • An AI divide looms. The lack of faculty development around AI threatens to widen digital divides. Students at tech-savvy schools may gain an upper hand.
  • AI’s impact is untested. Few institutions can point to measurable benefits of AI for student success. But 65% aim to teach critical digital skills with AI.


AI has potential but institutions must set policies and ready faculty to tame this uncharted territory. Without structure, AI may undermine education rather than improve it. But thoughtful implementation could lead to big breakthroughs in learning. Are colleges ready to saddle up for the AI frontier?

The survey presents a timely wake-up call as AI increases its presence this Fall. To reap benefits rather than risks, higher ed needs vision, readiness and responsible innovation as teaching and learning become infused with AI.

Alchemy will explore AI Policy in our upcoming free leadership webinar: “Shaping the Future: Policy Considerations for AI in Higher Education” featuring Van Davis from WCET along with Melody Buckner, Associate Vice Provost, Digital Learning Initiatives and Online, University of Arizona, and Jim Larimore, Co-Founder and Chairperson, EDSafe AI Alliance. Please join us on Thursday, August 10 at 2:00pmET/11:00amPT.


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