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Artificial intelligence is already a factor at many universities. With the vast number of applications, teachers can quickly become overwhelmed. In addition, it is often not clear how good individual applications actually are. We present a selection of AI tools for various areas of application at the university.

Artificial intelligence in the university context

Among the AI tools that are available in their multitude and ever-growing number of AI applications, there are true all-rounders and special tools. Although it is always relevant on which data sets the underlying models were trained and how complex they are – see Stanford University’s distinction between foundation models and task-specific models – the models are being integrated into each other or tailored to specific application scenarios in increasingly complex software. In this article, we have summarized the most useful AI tools in the university context. The selection is based on the following four categories: usefulness in the university context, usability and functionality, accessibility as well as ethical and moral aspects. However, the field is changing so rapidly that we are constantly updating this article, and it is also advisable to stay up to date yourself to keep an eye on the latest developments and trends.

Chatbots – the all-rounders of generative AI

A chatbot can communicate with users like a human to help them with various tasks. A Large Language Model is an advanced language algorithm that has been trained on large text data to understand and generate human-like speech. Chatbots often use such models to respond intelligently to requests.

ChatGPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI based on the GPT-3 (free) or GPT-4 model. These models belong to the family of Large Language Models (LLM), which have been trained by machine learning and natural language processing to generate human-like texts. ChatGPT can respond to a large number of requests (prompts) in natural language. ChatGPT is currently one of the most versatile AI tools and can be used in teaching both for organizational purposes (e.g., creating a seminar plan) and for interactive use by students (writing workshop, feedback generator, tutor).

TH Köln has been operating its own interface since March 2024. Log in with your campusID and use ChatGPT in various scenarios – free of charge and in compliance with data protection regulations.


HuggingChat is a versatile chatbot that lets you use different open source AI models without registration.

PerplexityAI is characterized by its versatile, registration-free interface with GPT 3.5 connection, real-time web search functions, the provision of source references, and the optional, chargeable integration of more powerful models.

Writing, translating, revising

AI tools are certainly suitable for working on your own texts. For example, you can check whether your texts are grammatically and orthographically correct. This is even possible if you upload entire documents and have them checked by the AI. The translation of texts is also possible.

An AI-based writing assistant from Cologne that offers grammar, spelling, and style checks, with input or file upload options.


A translation service, also from Cologne, which translates texts into 28 languages without registration, with high accuracy and document translation function.

A free writing assistant for grammar and spelling checks with text correction and rephrasing functions, free of charge, open source, and with many add-ons.

Researching, capturing, summarizing

Scientific research takes time and cannot be completely replaced by AI tools. However, these tools are suitable for scanning more efficiently, which literature can be useful for your own scientific work. Particularly noteworthy are functions that place literature and keywords in relation to texts by other authors.

ResearchRabbit is a free AI application that was developed to support scientific research. It allows you to search for scientific articles, provides summaries of the abstracts, shows references, and also allows you to create your own collection of articles. ResearchRabbit is an extremely useful tool for research purposes as it offers a variety of applications. Registration is required.


The ChatPDF AI application is based on ChatGPT and allows users to “interact” with uploaded PDF files, i.e., ask questions about the content of the file in a chat. It is also possible to summarize the entire content as well as specific sections of the text. This means that ChatPDF can be used to support the evaluation of scientific articles and other text forms. ChatPDF can be used free of charge and without registration.

Elicit is an AI application for supporting scientific research and also offers the option of analyzing PDF files. Elicit is free to use but requires registration.

Litmaps is an AI application for visualizing referenced articles and texts in a topological network structure. Litmaps can be used free of charge and without registration.

Creative design with AI

Artificial intelligence is able to generate new images from text input. The more detailed the description, the more accurate the result. Existing photos or videos can be manipulated with the help of AI.

Firefly is an AI application from Adobe that can be used to generate and edit images and video clips in a variety of ways. It responds to text input (prompts) from the user in natural language. Firefly is integrated into Adobe applications such as Photoshop but is also available as a separate web application. Members of TH Cologne can use Firefly free of charge via campusID.


Midjourney is a text-to-image generator that can be used via the Discord platform. In the free trial version, 25 requests can be made. Midjourney is particularly suitable for generating high-quality images that meet artistic and creative requirements.

StableDiffusion AI Image Generator is a text-to-image generator based on an open source model.

Bing Image Creator is a text-to-image generator from Microsoft that uses the DALL-E 3 AI model. It is characterized by its user-friendliness and fast image generation. The application is free to use but requires a Microsoft or GitHub account.

AI for open educational resources and science communication

AI tools such as TTSfree, Pika, and Riffusion can be useful for communicating scientific content with or for students and for creating open educational resources. TTSfree enables the conversion of texts into audio tracks, Pika is used for video creation and Riffusion offers options for generating music with vocals.

Important information on correct licensing when using AI tools can be found in this article.

  • Zentrum für Lehrentwicklung (ZLE)

    The ZLE is a central academic institution. It offers all members of the university a platform for the exchange of experiences between colleagues as well as access to current teaching and learning research and scientific support. Teachers can develop, test, systematically reflect on and publish teaching concepts with the support of university and media didactics.

We appreciate your feedback!

When developing this offer, we tried to include you as a teacher in advance. We would therefore be delighted if you would help us to further improve our offer. Please let us know what you would like, what bothers you or what you particularly like. Would you like to contact us directly? Then write to us at!