GenAI – Hallelujah or not?

GenAI – Hallelujah or not?

12/01/2023 - 07:46

Marenna van Reijsen teaches and inspires students in digital opportunities @ Breda University of Applied Sciences, as she summarises it herself. She is very curious about alumni's experiences in the field of Tourism with generative AI (GenAI) such as the chatbots ChatGPT or Bard.
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Marenna van Reijsen is a lecturer in digital marketing and is coordinator of the E-lab at the Academy for Tourism at BUas (formerly NHTV). In this E-lab, students get hands-on with a variety of digital tools to create content for social media and websites, for example. Classes are increasingly focusing on generative AI (GenAI), a form of artificial intelligence which allows you to automatically generate text, images, audio and other content.

‘Learning how to work with it is one thing,’ says Marenna, ‘but dealing with it responsibly, that is something else. I see it as my job to ensure that our students are aware of the possibilities of digital tools. I find that colleagues sometimes tend to magnify the disadvantages of using ChatGPT, for example. Yes, it also exposes weaknesses in our education system, and that evokes emotions, so I do understand this fear. We can turn it around by thinking even more carefully about the learning objectives we formulate and what and how we eventually assess these.’

We can use it?  
‘We have to do something with it, we cannot avoid it. AI is here to stay. If we focus too much on the negative side, we will fall behind. It will be used anyway, because anything that makes us faster, we are going to use. Maybe people are also just naturally lazy. The fact is that we will encounter GenAI more and more, people start using it almost unconsciously. Students often use Canva, which is an online tool for graphic design. AI, for instance Dall-E, is integrated into this, this makes the threshold to start using it low. It is not bad if they use, say ChatGPT, as long as they are transparent about it. You can also ask students to give their own opinion on what such a tool ultimately created.’

So, a different approach?  
‘And in that sense too, we continue to develop. In the Digital Marketing in Tourism minor, students developed their own conversation flow for a chatbot. Two years ago, that was ground-breaking, now we have to change the design of the minor because technology creates many more possibilities. BUas-wide we are looking at how we can design education in such a way that the use of digital tools is both meaningful and instructive. Not only do we show what can be done, we also zoom in on the ethical side. We discuss this with students. And also, about the pitfalls, because, of course, it is not just Hallelujah. How do you recognise fake news? What are reliable sources? What is your own opinion!? Continuously hold up a mirror and keep reflecting. After all, we are training students to become responsible, self-directed professionals.’

And you are curious to see what industry professionals end up doing with it?  
‘Yes, the use of chatbots in the leisure and tourism industry, for example, is becoming increasingly common on websites. Do they learn from the questions visitors ask the chatbot? Do they have ChatGPT analysed data files? Or YouTube videos by Bard? I am curious about our alumni's experiences. What do digital tools bring them? What do you learn as an entrepreneur? Mistakes in content creation perhaps by using texts generated by AI? But also, what else would you like to know about digital trends? Then we can include that in the micro credential (a module, ed.) which is also accessible to professionals in the field. The module focuses on digital innovation in tourism. And also on the importance of the human-in-the-loop, because AI chatbots are not humans. They do not think, they calculate and combine data quickly, therein lies their cleverness.’

Marenna is also concerned with digitisation within education and is active within BUas as part of the AI Pioneer Team to develop and secure use of AI within BUas. She cordially invites you, as a graduate, to share your experiences from the professional field with her. You can send her a message on LinkedIn or at

So, to be honest, I did not write this article using ChatGPT – I am the woman-in-the-loop – maybe I will run it through Deepl Translate quickly, because I am running out of time 😉

But first, a Q&A with Maaike van Kuijk. She is taking Marenna's Digital Trends module as a professional among students. We are very curious about her motivation.What kind of work do you do?  
‘I work as a Marketing Communication Coordinator at Thetford Europe's headquarters. If you are a camping enthusiast, you may know it from the Porta Potti, a portable toilet. From our office we manage marketing and communications for all the European regions in which we operate.’

What (new) digital tools do you use in your work?  
‘We already use digital tools for everything, but really new are ChatGPT, the AI options in the Adobe software package and the Magic Studio in Canva. Soon we will start working with an outside agency to create animation videos with AI generated presenters. We are also exploring opportunities for AI in customer service.’

What is your motivation for taking the Digital Trends module?  
‘Since I graduated from BUas (then NHTV) in 2013 (and two years later from Tilburg University), an awful lot has changed in the digital world. The changes are happening so fast that we can barely keep up. I like to stay informed, which is why I am taking this module. But also, to be inspired by current students – after all, they grew up in a digital world, more so than I did.’ 

What will you – with the knowledge gained from this module – do differently in your work?  
‘Applying new digital tools helps me think differently about our work and the processes we use. Can our work be more efficient? More effective? Easier? It also helps me to strengthen my story internally. Changes are often somewhat ‘scary’ but by demonstrating all that we can accomplish with the use of new digital tools, I hope to show to our organisation that it makes sense to do things differently. The insights I gain from this module help me do that.’