by Dr. Robin Finley
So, educators, we have both an exciting and daunting task for the summer of 2023. What will we do about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our schools and classrooms when August of 2023 rolls around? Are we planning a complete ban? Or are we going to allow it in our classrooms? Or Are we just going to see what happens and roll with it?
I will be starting my 36th year as an educator this fall, so I have been around for a little bit. Do you remember when we went from learning to type on a physical typewriter to learning it on a computer (I was still in high school then)? Do you remember when we just barely started having computers in our schools as a teacher (I chose the school I student taught at because the teacher had a desk computer-it was 1988)? Do you remember when we really weren’t sure that students would need a computer to do their work in school? In my first round of graduate school beginning in 1998, my classmates (called “Cohorts” now) and I shared the huge IBM laptop I had purchased at a pawn shop. Other than the one new computer lab at the university, most individuals did not have their own laptops. I remember when I launched TasselTIME (20 years ago), I presented to a group of administrators, and most were excited and amazed about the resource. Still, one superintendent approached me and said, “You know Robin, my wife is a school counselor, and I talked to her about your website, and she said counselors don’t really use computers, so I am not sure your idea is gonna be too successful.”
So fast forward to the summer of 2023. AI is here. We actually have already been using components of it for years- Grammarly is one example, and the mapping programs on our phones are another. We have a huge list of articles about AI in education on our AI Resources page. We have begun the discussion about what we are going to do about it, but are we ready to take action? We better get ready!
Here are some real actionable steps. Your school needs to have a policy about how you plan to handle student AI utilization. If you are looking for some guiding questions to help you develop a policy, look no further Ethical Guidelines on the Use of AI (pg 22) (2022). This article, among many others I have noted on our AI resource page, will help get you started. Get that leadership team together (please be sure you have strong teacher input) and get started. Here is some additional help for writing that district and classroom policy: Writing school AI Policies? Use these 10+ resources (2023). As you plan to allow students to use AI, you will want to think about the age appropriateness of the AI tool or app and keep in mind that many AI tools have an age restriction or recommendation. As with any app you are using in your school you will want to have a way to verify that the app is compliant with your app usage policy and user agreements. The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has a great place to start on that process if your school has not done this already: Establish a Process for Vetting Apps. You want to ensure that your policy clearly encompasses established privacy laws, specifically COPPA, if the use is planned for students under 13.
Teachers, once your school has developed an overall policy about using AI in the classroom, you will want to get really specific about what you will allow and not allow in your classroom. I think, for now, developing a classroom policy will be a focus for secondary teachers. This article is just a start and uses a simple method of stoplight colors to allow students to understand if AI will be allowed on specific assignments: Focus on the Assessment Construct (Cotterell, 2023). I love the thought of using the stoplight colors red, yellow, and green to signal to the student what can be allowed on an assignment or project.
I recognize that we are all really worried about plagiarism with AI right now and here is a good article that specifically compares the different AI Detectors: How Reliable are AI Dectors? The bottom line if I can trick the AI detector into thinking my writing is human….. the kids can too! With us having that knowledge, our responsibility as teachers is to focus on teaching the students how to use AI ethically. You can do this! I have so much faith in you. Please look at the AI Resource page in TeachingTIME to help get you started with AI tool recommendations and demonstrations. Here is a link to our AI presentation also: AI: What has AI got to do with it?
Elementary teachers have no fear; AI is coming to the elementary level near you soon (it is already being developed specifically for age appropriateness). Stay tuned!
Bottom line educators! We can do this. No one thought we could provide virtual learning when we were all sent home to teach in March of 2020. I have faith in us! We are some pretty awesome professionals.
European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Ethical guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data in teaching and learning for educators – , Publications Office of the European Union, 2022, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/153756
Cotterell, A. (2023, June 5). Focus on the Assessment Construct. Teacher Directed AI. Retrieved from https://teacherdirectedai.wordpress.com/2023/06/05/focus-on-the-assessment-construct/?fbclid=IwAR31xa_uVN_mf8q7BB5sOjqzJeaEc_q38QTs2nQy2FFRmr_p-tz8WxY60ek
Ditch That Textbook (2023, June 4) Writing school AI policies? Use these 10+ resources. Retrieved from: https://ditchthattextbook.com/ai-policies/
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Arkansas. Awareness step 3. Retrieved from: https://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/Offices/research-and-technology/privacy-awareness/step-3
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Arkansas. State and Federal Laws. Retrieved from: https://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/Offices/research-and-technology/privacy-awareness/laws
Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). COPPA: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. Retrieved from https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/rules/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule-coppa
Ellis, B. (2023, May). How reliable are AI detectors? Tech Notes TCEA. Retrieved from https://blog.tcea.org/how-reliable-are-ai-detectors/