George Lucas Educational Foundation
ChatGPT & Generative AI

Teaching Students How to Use AI Responsibly

Rather than forbid students to use artificial intelligence, an English teacher shows them how they can use it in ways that support their learning.

November 10, 2023
Michael Dwyer / Alamy

I work at a very tech-savvy high school. When artificial intelligence (AI) splashed into the field of education, I fervently told my students that using any AI website would be considered plagiarism, and they needed to stay away from it. I felt my statements were validated when the university I worked with announced that there would be serious academic consequences if students used AI. Despite this, I eventually came to the conclusion that artificial intelligence is here to stay, and there was no way I could keep my students off of it. I soon decided that I needed to change my way of thinking and view artificial intelligence as another tool in my teacher toolbox.

In March 2023, I decided to pause teaching my students my regular curriculum. I wanted to teach my students how to use AI responsibly. I also wanted to experiment with several websites and see what my students and I could learn. Because I took that time, I now know how to effectively teach my students how to use these tools and how they can avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism.

Because AI is constantly changing, it’s important to note that it’s impossible for teachers to stay caught up with the newest websites and trends. Though I teach high school English, I believe that these assignments listed below can be easily adapted for any subject in a secondary school.

While these assignments are now considered an essential part of my teaching curriculum, I expect them to change as the technology becomes more sophisticated. Overall, this is a good place for any teacher to start developing good practices in regard to artificial intelligence.

7 AI Questions That Students Should Be Able to Answer

1. How do I find out if sources generated by AI are legitimate? Students were given a prompt that asked the AI platform to generate several sources cited in MLA format. They had to then find the sources on their own to see if they were valid.

2. What is paraphrasing, and when does it cross the line? Students were taught what paraphrasing was and were given several passages to practice with. They then took the reading passage and asked ChatGPT to paraphrase it.

3. What is good and bad feedback? Students put in old essays and asked for feedback. We talked about how to tell good advice from bad.

4. How do I check for bias in AI-generated material? Students learned about bias in writing, and I gave them examples of AI-generated work. They had to find words or phrases that were considered biased.

5. What are the pros and cons of artificial intelligence? Students read several articles about the pros and cons of AI. Because the literature surrounding AI is so vast, we had a Socratic seminar in class where we talked about the ethics of AI.

6. When is it cheating? At the end of the week, I told my students to write a new plagiarism policy for the school. Though it was a theoretical assignment, my students carefully articulated what we learned and how it could be applied to the school as a whole.

7. What are AI detectors, and how do they work? I explained the tools I have at my disposal to catch AI-related plagiarism. I showed them how Turnitin works and walked them through the AI feature. I also showed them how GPTZero works.

Things I Learned

Teachers should focus on one to two AI websites. At this point, there are countless websites that are geared toward attracting the attention of students and teachers. I focused solely on ChatGPT because they have a free version. But you should know that the free version is less sophisticated than the paid one.

Popular AI websites like ChatGPT are likely blocked at your school site. That is why I had to prepare beforehand and present the students with the AI-generated examples. A majority of my students also had cell phones that I allowed them to use as well.

I would only teach these assignments with upper-class students. Because we talk about the ethics of academic integrity, students need to demonstrate a level of maturity in order to be successful in this.

Because I didn’t want my students to see these assignments as a free pass to use AI all the time, I constantly reminded them that the things they saw on AI websites would be useless if they did not have preexisting knowledge about the subject already in their heads. I pointed out that they wouldn’t know what bad writing looked like if they didn’t have knowledge of good writing in the first place.

Assessing How Things Went

Based on the results I saw after this unit, I would classify it as a success. Now my students ask me questions before they use an AI website. Because I was open about AI and its benefits, my students now feel free to approach me with their questions and concerns about the technology. Additionally, AI-related plagiarism cases have decreased in my classroom. When it does happen, students cannot claim that they didn’t know.

Adding these lessons has also changed how I view AI. Today, I see it as a valuable tool for me to use as a teacher. I incorporate it into my lesson planning and constantly share what I learn with my students.

Moving forward, it’s essential for administrators and teachers to engage in productive conversations about artificial intelligence and the role it now plays in education. To be effective educational institutions, we must adapt to the world of technology and learn how we can use it to positively impact our students. As the technology develops for students, it is also essential that it develop for the teachers as well. Teachers must be armed with effective AI detectors to discourage plagiarism and general student misuse.

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