Jul 20 2023

How to Enact an AI Policy in Your K–12 Schools

Here’s what district IT leaders should consider as they create guidelines for the use of generative artificial intelligence in classrooms.

As K–12 leaders plan for the return to school, many should consider the need for a policy on artificial intelligence. AI conversations are being had in ed tech circles, with experts and thought leaders discussing the technology as it advances. At this year’s Consortium for School Networking conference in March, panelists discussed ChatGPT and its place in schools. At ISTELive 23, presenters urged schools to have an AI policy in place, adding that it’s better to have a policy that can be revised than to have no guidance.

In talking about AI, and looking for advice to create a policy, it’s important to remember that AI and machine learning have been around for years. While ChatGPT accelerated the interest in generative AI, many technologies in schools already rely on AI or ML to some extent. Microsoft and Google both use the tech for features as familiar as autocomplete.

There’s AI in school safety technology as well. Cybersecurity tools such as web filtering and network monitoring rely on the tech, and physical security solutions such as next-generation cameras use AI for license plate recognition and more.

Understanding how AI works and, more importantly, how it doesn’t work is key for modern school leaders.

Click the banner to unlock complimentary resources from CDW for your modern K–12 classroom.

Navigate Common Fears and Misconceptions Around AI in Schools

Many of the common fears about AI are unfounded. Rumors swirl that AI will replace teachers or that students will stop learning how to read and write.

Instead, some of the most innovative teachers have already begun incorporating AI into lesson plans, using the tool to improve student writing and comprehension.

Others fear the technology will cause classes to stray from the curriculum or render it irrelevant. Yet, in the same way that teachers are integrating this tool into individualized lessons, they are using it to support and further the standards to which they need to teach.

One genuine concern is that of digital equity. If schools ban the use of generative AI in classrooms or on school devices, students with devices and access at home will continue to explore the capabilities of AI. Those who rely on school-issued devices, meanwhile, will fall behind their peers when it comes to AI skills, which experts say will be crucial in the workforce in the near future.

LEARN MORE: How ChatGPT is impacting innovation in K-12 education.

Create AI Policies for Schools That Are Fair and Thoughtful

While it’s important to enact a policy, school leaders should make sure they plan it thoughtfully. To do so, they must gather input from all the necessary stakeholders. This includes school staff — administrators, the IT department and educators — as well as students and the community.

Students are the end users of this tech in many circumstances, and they will need AI skills in future jobs, so their perspective is important to the conversation.

Engaging the community is also essential before creating a policy on AI. This ensures community members are informed about how AI is being used in the classroom and how it works. Including the community can lessen or dispel the fears around this technology.

DIVE DEEPER: What are the pros and cons of ChatGPT in education?

Bookmark Resources on AI in K–12 Schools

School leaders should also turn to trusted resources for recommendations on their AI policies. The U.S. Department of Education recently released insights and recommendations on AI for schools. The White House also put out its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. These resources can give admins a starting point when creating a policy.

The team of education strategists at CDW can also help K–12 IT professionals struggling to navigate an AI policy. They work with school districts and boards of education across the country to provide recommendations, guidance and direction on emerging technologies. Interested school leaders can also attend the AI webinar hosted by CDW Education July 27.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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