The Canvas home page has an introduction video and announcements about the AI buffet. Credit: Cal Poly Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology is holding its first “Artificial Intelligence Buffet,” a self-paced workshop for students and faculty to learn more about AI. 

The free experience will be held over the course of two weeks; the Jan. 22 – Feb. 2 session is full, but space is available during the Feb. 12 – 23 session, according to the Cal Poly website. The workshop provides participants with information regarding its basic usage, history and ethical considerations. Participants are also given resources to a load of unique applications that showcase AI and its capabilities today. 

“The main purpose of the AI buffet is to give people who have absolutely no experience with AI or generative applications whatsoever, a place to comfortably try them out,” Professor and creator of the workshop Catherine Hillman said. “[Participants can also] kind of take a look at some of the topics surrounding AI, like ethics or the history of AI. How did we get here? What’s the magic behind the scenes that creates it?”

Although not a literal buffet, the workshop essentially serves active participants with knowledge about AI in a similar style.

“I call it the AI buffet because I wanted people to be able to approach this almost like I have an empty plate. I just want to put the things on it that I want,” Hillman said. 

The workshop is delivered in the form of a temporary course in Canvas. On the Canvas course page, there is a welcome module that provides a menu of available lessons for members to read through. Participants also have the ability to scroll through the modules and indulge in lessons in whatever order they choose. On the Wednesday of the second week of the workshop, an optional Zoom meeting will be held for the purpose of creating an open discussion.

Hillman said her goal was initially to help faculty on campus understand AI so they can introduce it to their students in a meaningful way and find new ways to utilize it in their classrooms. 

“I think faculty will be exposed to the vast array of applications for AI,” Hillman said. “I want people to get over their fear of it.”

Hillman does this by offering over ten ethical lessons regarding AI and its effect on society.

After word spread in Cal Poly of the new workshop, interested students started to join as well.

“I think it’s great,” Hillman said. “For students taking this class, I hope that they see how many applications are out there and how cool it using AI.”

The AI Buffet has a total of four workshops within the 2023-2024 school year. To sign up, visit