As we go down this road, I think that instead of crafting policies that assume a reactive and/or defensive posture to the emergence of this technology, and its ever growing use by our students, we should approach our policy-making from a“backwards design” framework.
What do we consider to be the qualities and skills that our “successful graduates” should possess? Perhaps we could frame our policy conversations about faculty and student use of these technologies from that vantage point. Otherwise, we will be forever chasing a moving target. With that said, though, any policy that we devise should have built-in review dates for potential revision because of the speed by which this technology and its uses are expanding.
School-wide policies will also need to also be reflected in each teacher's course syllabus, explicitly addressing the acceptable use of generative AI in their particular course. Without completely banning the use of generative AI, teachers should offer clarity on the do’s and don’ts. In order to deal with the “gray” areas, perhaps teachers only allow the use of generative AI by giving specific examples of acceptable use such as allowing students to use this technology in a “tutoring” capacity offering feedback on a draft of a paper, or allowing students to use this tool in brainstorming ideas for a group project. Students should also be given clear guidelines on how to cite their use of these platforms, as they learn to cite other sources.
In developing policies/procedures, I recognize that we must develop consistency across all constituencies and users of AI that preserve data privacy, consider the potential for bias, and ensure security of identifiable personal data. As this technology continues to grow at a rapid pace, so must our understanding of the power for this technology to enhance and/or harm student learning. Our policies should certainly reflect these concerns.
Generative AI is one of the most intriguing and rapidly advancing tools available to students and faculty today. It's essential that we create sensible guidelines, in order to ensure a positive learning environment for our students and faculty. It's critical to reflect on our mission and guiding documents when creating the policies dealing with the use of AI technology. I firmly believe that through thoughtful collaboration we will be able to create meaningful policies that center the well being and future needs of our students and educators.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)