Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT are appearing in classrooms across the country and teachers are concerned about how to create policies around them”.
You’ve probably heard that exact sentence millions of times, and for good reason. While these generative AI chatbots can help students brainstorm ideas or explain concepts, they also raise concerns about academic integrity and plagiarism. As an educator, creating a clear AI policy for your classroom is crucial.
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “thanks for stating the obvious, I know I need to create an AI policy, but I have no idea where to even start.”
Well, fear not, your friends at Packback have you covered! Our very own CEO, Kelsey Behringer, along with The League of Innovation in the Community College recently hosted a webinar discussing AI policy and the mystery surrounding it. The session focused on developing AI policies that encourage ethical usage while upholding academic standards. Here are the key takeaways for crafting your own classroom policy.
Focus on Student Perspectives
One of the most important aspects is to focus on student perspectives. During the webinar, we shared viewpoints from three different students on using artificial intelligence in school. Their attitudes ranged from seeing it as just “playing the game” to get good grades, to considering it equivalent to plagiarism, to seeing it as a tool that can be used to enhance learning and even the playing field if used properly. It’s significant to understand that not all students think the same, and some may have more nuanced thoughts on AI than you’d think, which makes it paramount to open a dialogue with them to address diverse needs and concerns.
Allow Ethical Usage
One of the largest aspects of creating an AI policy is to allow students to use it ethically. Students are going to use generative AI any way you slice it, so it’s important to encourage and teach them to use it ethically. As one student voiced,
“I simply want guidance on how to appropriately leverage these tools as they become commonplace in society and the workplace.”
Where to begin? Outline acceptable uses, like harnessing the power of AI to help brainstorm ideas, create outlines, explain confusing concepts in simpler terms, and more. Also, encourage students to ask questions about AI usage if they are unsure, don’t leave them in the dark to guess and fend for themselves!
Be Clear on Disclosure
I’m sure you already know this, but students crave explicit instructions for almost everything, and that should be no different when it comes to AI policy. They’re adults, treat them as such and be direct with them! For example, if you’re allowing them to use AI, encourage them to cite the tool they used or ask them to notate the steps in the process where they used AI. Develop a standard disclosure format or citation style that fits your class or assignment.
Explain Your Reasoning
Don’t simply ban AI without context (we also strongly discourage the banning of AI in general), that will only cause confusion and possibly lead to increased usage of generative AI. Instead, provide reasoning for your decision, like wanting assignments to demonstrate their original thinking. Discuss how certain use cases align or conflict with specific course goals around skill-building. Allow students to question your reasoning too. This will help them gain a better understanding of the factors that went into your decision.
Incorporate School Policy
When creating an AI policy, a good place to start is to review your institution’s overall academic policies before finalizing guidelines for your own classroom. For example, if the school policy does not yet specifically address artificial intelligence and content generation, ensure your guidelines and policy do. This goes back to setting clear and distinct expectations for students.
Also, don’t be afraid to chat with your school administrators as you develop your policy – it’s new territory for everybody, and they may be going through the same process of trying to figure out the best way to create a fair and clear policy to help the school and students move forward. Developing a comprehensive policy in the rapidly evolving landscape can be a daunting task. Having conversations with other faculty and administrators can provide important perspective and reassurance that others share your questions and concerns. Leaning on your colleagues for ideas or even examples of policies they have crafted can be invaluable in mapping out guidelines that align with broader school standards.
While having a firm policy is crucial, remember that this is new territory for you and many schools – so give yourself some flexibility and grace by allowing ongoing policy development. Remember, Rome wasn’t built by one person in one day, approach creating guidelines not as an intimidating solo endeavor but rather through the spirit of collaborative iteration with peers, we’re all in this together!
AI is new and evolving at what seems to be an exponential rate and any policy will require constant revisions and updates. Be prepared to reassess your guidelines regularly by staying on top of the latest and greatest updates and gathering additional student input.
Creating a policy for your classroom does not need to be an intimidating exercise. Focus on encouraging ethical usage and upholding academic rigor while giving students the context and transparency they need to buy into guidelines. Leverage available resources, ask peers for examples, and know that even an “imperfect” policy is better than none at all. If you’d like more information, feel free to check out our webinar “How to Create an AI Policy That is Right for You”.