The increasing prominence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping the way we access information, influencing multiple professions. The speed and extent of the change has led the United Nations (UN) Secretary General to issue a statement advocating the creation of a new UN agency focused on AI, recognizing the potential existential threats it may pose (Fung, 2023). The potency and magnitude of AI's potential integration into the world of education is such that it has precipitated dialogues, debates, and decisive actions among educators, policymakers, and stakeholders. Whether perceived as a benefit or harm, the undeniable truth remains; AI's influence in education is a reality, and its implications are profound. As AI becomes more prominent in schools, we should examine the background of some of the issues related to AI in education and provide guidelines for creating AI policies in schools.
The Influence and Importance of AI in Modern Education
Conversations regarding educational reform are nothing new. However, the advent of AI cannot be contained to theoretical discussion and is arguably the biggest revolution in access to knowledge since the mass adoption of the internet. Research has emphasized the myriad of ways AI can personalize the learning experience (Stanford University, 2023). Such systems, driven by machine learning algorithms, can adapt in real-time to students' needs, identifying areas of weakness and strength, and tailoring lessons accordingly. As a result, educators are provided with invaluable insights and data, enabling them to design more effective, engaging, and individualized curricula. Furthermore, AI has the capability to democratize education, making it accessible to all irrespective of geographical boundaries. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) powered by AI can potentially cater to millions of students simultaneously, breaking down barriers of location and socio-economic status. AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant responses to student queries, simulating the experience of one-on-one instruction, and thereby potentially reducing the educational gap between developing and more developed nations. At a microscopic level, access to AI could even reduce learning gaps among students in the same classroom.
Availability and Accessibility of AI Tools: Monitoring Content Production
Nevertheless, the availability and accessibility of AI tools to students can seem to challenge to the very foundations of academic honesty. With AI-driven platforms capable of crafting essays or solving complex problems, the boundaries of plagiarism and academic integrity are being redefined. The issue with (dis)honesty is not just about copying someone else's work anymore, instead it is about the use and potential misuse of AI tools that can easily and subtly subvert the learning process (e.g., Bloom’s Taxonomy). Recent literature has highlighted several concerns regarding the impact of AI in education. The most prominent among these is the potential for learners to cheat by presenting AI-generated work as their own. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A significant challenge is that, unlike with traditional plagiarism detectors, there is no reliable way to identify AI-produced content. While many companies, including Turnitin, assert their capability to detect AI-generated work, there is not a comprehensive database of AI-written materials to verify the authenticity of students' submissions. As a result, AI detection tools can be easily circumvented, whether by adding details that seem too personal or specific to be AI-produced, using specially designed websites that adjust writing to mimic a student's style, or by giving AI tailored commands that control the output's style (Cook, 2023). Conversely, English as an additional language (EAL) students or those with learning needs who depend heavily on writing frameworks and scaffolding might inadvertently trigger AI detection systems, putting them at a disadvantage (Williams, 2023). To mitigate the risks of AI plagiarism and prevent discrimination against specific student groups, educational institutions must swiftly implement policies that monitor the means of students' content production and incorporate assessment methods that evaluate students' understanding of their own work.
Policy Guidelines for Students’ Use of AI and Assessment of Learning
- AI Impact on Bloom’s Taxonomy
The use of AI in the classroom depends on the task and Bloom’s Taxonomy stage. For example, as younger students form the foundation of their knowledge, they spend much of their time remembering and understanding facts and events. Using AI at this stage may defeat the purpose of such tasks. Supporters of AI in the classroom sometimes underestimate the importance of these early stages in Bloom’s Taxonomy, forgetting that they needed to go through these stages at some point in their lives. Nonetheless, they argue that schools have often focused too heavily on these foundational stages and hope to see educational institutions dedicate more time and effort to teaching and assessing higher levels of the taxonomy such as application of knowledge. Their aim is to leverage the use of AI in the classroom to optimize learning as application and transfer of knowledge is seen as more important and crucial than the more rudimentary skills such as memorization.
However, this debate may appear futile as the conversations of the purpose of learning tasks and stages are not always clear. A dynamic and open AI policy in an international school should encompass guidelines regarding the types and purpose of learning tasks that should avoid or incorporate AI depending on the task's alignment with Bloom’s Taxonomy. This way, educators can make informed decisions on when and how to integrate AI into the learning process to achieve the best educational outcomes.
- Ethical Licensing and Referencing
One other point of contention is how AI should be referenced ethically. Current guidance from American Psychological Association (APA) advises, “In your assignment, describe what AI tool you used and how you used it. Include the exact text of the question(s) or prompt(s) you entered and relevant portions of the AI-generated response” (Mamak & Mosher, 2023). Although such advice does provide some guidance on how to acknowledge AI assistance, it does not consider where the information was taken from originally. Ethically, this could infringe on the rights of the original authors from whom the content was harvested. This links back to the need for a global consensus on how AI is licensed and how it gains access to information it provides in responses.
At this point in time, the full-scale impact of AI in education is still unknown. While AI's role in education brings unimagined opportunities, it also presents distinct challenges, especially concerning academic honesty. It is essential for institutions to pre-emptively adapt their academic honesty policies, ensuring that they remain relevant as AI changes and evolves over the coming years. Some larger institutions, such as International Baccalaureate (IBO), have already adapted policy to specify how AI produced content should be cited (International Baccalaureate, 2023). For schools not led by the guidance of larger authorities, such as IBO, it is imperative to navigate this new landscape internally to ensure they do not fall behind. Policy that has an impact in curriculum design should ideally be determined by all stakeholders, teachers, and administrators as well as students. According to a study in the Harvard Educational Review, when educators, students, and administrators collaboratively engage in curriculum design, the outcomes are not only more relevant but also more impactful (Harvard University, 2022). As schools stand at the door of this revolution in how knowledge is accessed combined with the inability of conventional plagiarism software to detect AI generated content, the path ahead demands insight, adaptability, and a deep commitment to preserving the essence of academic integrity. As we stand at the crossroads of technological advancement and educational integrity, it becomes paramount for institutions globally to be proactive, ensuring that the transformative power of AI augments educational objectives rather than detracting from them.
Provided that students understand the appropriate ethical uses of AI and are aware that any attempt to use artificial intelligence for unethical reasons—such as cheating on assignments, tests, or exams—is strictly forbidden and illegal, they should be encouraged to use AI for research assistance or as supplemental tutoring software. Alternatively, if the task permits students must provide a statement in where they include what tool, how, and in what portion of the assignment AI was used to assist.
Policy Guidelines for Teachers’ Use of AI
- Shifting Teacher Workloads
A survey conducted by the Ed Week Research Center found that teachers in the United States of America work a median of 54 hours per week, but less than half of this time (46 percent) is spent directly on teaching (Hardison, 2022). The remaining hours are allocated to a variety of non-teaching tasks, including grading (five hours), planning (five hours), and administrative work (three hours), among others. AI technologies, such as GPT based chatbots, have the potential to significantly reduce these non-teaching burdens. For instance, these chatbots could handle routine tasks such as curriculum updating, organizing timelines, assist in creation of modules (e.g., Canvas), scheduling, or even help with short assessments and even formative grading tasks. As schools consider integrating AI technologies, it is imperative that they also develop a comprehensive AI policy that includes the extent to which teachers are allowed to use AI for administrative tasks. This policy should prioritize the use of AI to shift teachers' workloads away from administrative tasks, allowing them to focus more on direct teaching and student interaction.
- Ethical and Responsible Usage
In terms of educational content, AI tools that customize learning materials to meet individual student needs are encouraged, as long as they adhere to privacy regulations. While AI can be a useful tool for creating formative assessments, it is crucial for teachers to oversee and validate these results to ensure a high quality of instruction. AI chatbots can also be beneficial for facilitating communication outside of school hours, although they should not serve as a substitute for direct, either face-to-face or digital, interactions between teachers and students, especially concerning sensitive or complex issues. Finally, it is strongly recommended that teachers undergo training to understand the ethical and responsible usage of AI technologies in educational settings.
Policy Guidelines for General School Wide Use of AI
When considering school-wide policies for the use of AI, it is essential to adopt a multifaceted approach that addresses various aspects of technology integration including student and teacher ongoing training in the appropriate use of AI. Input should be actively sought from students, parents, and teachers to determine the most effective ways to implement AI in classrooms. This input should be in the form of surveys, parents’ cafés, or any dedicated event for this purpose.
Additionally, schools must ensure equitable access to these technologies for all students and staff while implementing robust systems to safeguard data privacy. AI usage should align with educational frameworks like Bloom's Taxonomy; for instance, while AI may not be suitable for practicing basic skills, it could be indispensable for advanced analytical projects as previously explained. Further, students and parents should be educated on the importance of data security and privacy in the context of AI. Compliance with data protection regulations is mandatory, and explicit consent for data collection and usage must be obtained. Accessibility concerns, including country-dependent regulations. More importantly, schools must guarantee equitable access including those students with special needs. Schools need to scrutinize AI tools for algorithmic biases that could disproportionately discriminate against certain student groups. Finally, ongoing monitoring and audits should be implemented to ensure that AI tools achieve the intended educational outcomes.
As AI becomes more prominent, it is vital that we examine its use and reflect on its implications on educational practices. AI has the potential to be an incredible asset to the teaching profession as long as we provide clear, ethical guidelines for creating AI policies in schools.
Hardison, H., 2022. How Teachers Spend Their Time: A Breakdown. Education Week. [online] Available at: https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/how-teachers-spend-their-time-a-breakdown/2022/04 [Accessed 30 August 2023].
Harvard University, 2022. Report of the Harvard Future of Teaching and Learning Task Force, s.l.: Harvard University.
International Baccalaureate, 2023. ibo.org. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/statement-from-the-ib-about-chatgpt-and-artificial-intelligence-in-assessment-and-education/#:~:text=Students%20should%20be%20aware%20that,been%20copied%20from%20such%20software.
[Accessed 16 September 2023].
Stanford University, 2023. HAI.Standford. [Online]
[Accessed 21 August 2023].
Fung, B., 2023. cnn.com. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/18/tech/un-ai-agency/index.html
[Accessed 16 September 2023].
Williams, B., 2023. The London Economic. [Online]
Available at: https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/lifestyle/ai-detectors-can-harm-esl-and-efl-students-what-can-they-do-to-prevent-it-353510/
[Accessed 18 September 2023].
Cook, J., 2023. Forbes. [Online]
Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jodiecook/2023/06/15/train-chatgpt-to-write-like-you-in-5-easy-steps/?sh=35d6a615530f
[Accessed 18 September 2023].
Mamak, L. & Mosher, L., 2023. Normandale Commmunity College Library. [Online]
Available at: https://www.normandale.edu/_files/documents/library/ai-apa.pdf
[Accessed 18 September 2023].
Adam Duckworth is an is an experienced English, English language learners, and social studies teacher. He has worked in a variety of international schools, teaching International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, Cambridge Curriculum, and United States curriculum. He is currently working as an English teacher at Concordia International School in Shanghai.
Dr Yujiro Fujiwara is an international science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educator. He has specialized in curriculum and instruction and is currently the head of STEM and high school mathematics lead at Concordia International School in Shanghai.