As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, it’s fast becoming integrated into our modern world. This innovative technology promises to revolutionize how we live and work, and its influence is fast spreading into the education sector—but there are mixed opinions on how to utilize it. With the potential to reshape what teaching and learning looks like, there are lots of questions and discussions to be had around AI to ensure that it has a positive impact on higher education, for both students and educators. As universities and colleges embrace these technologies, parameters must be set to ensure it’s used responsibly. 

Here, we take a look at how students can use AI without blurring ethical boundaries and offer some insights into the ways in which educators can open conversations around responsible AI use. 

Educate Students on the Risks and Benefits of AI

AI can offer personalized learning experiences by adapting the process to a student’s specific learning style and needs. From tools which create interactive, engaging online learning spaces to those that offer clarification and guidance 24/7, the possibilities of correctly utilizing AI can be massive. Especially for students who require more one-on-one support, this tailored approach can boost retention, output, and grades. 

However, whilst AI holds immense potential to transform a student’s learning journey, it’s crucial that they understand the risks and benefits of using the technology. Before introducing AI tools into your classroom, be sure to have an open conversation with your students about using AI. You could discuss the following: 

Protect Your Privacy when Using AI: Students need to be mindful of the data they share with AI systems to ensure personal information is kept secure and confidential.

AI bias: When using AI tools for research, decision-making, or any other task, students need to be aware of the potential of unnatural biases in the data or algorithms.

Critical Thinking: It’s important not to blindly accept any results provided by an AI feature, as it is often inaccurate and incapable of drawing contextual conclusions. Considering alternative perspectives, independent research, and the ability to verify information are all important skills of higher education that shouldn’t be lost due to using AI.

Transparency: Students should be able to understand any AI tools they use, how they work and how they draw conclusions. Not only does this promote the ethical development of AI, but it encourages an open attitude towards using the technology.

Ethical AI in the Classroom

Set Clear Expectations

Once everyone is on the same page, it’s essential to set clear expectations around your educational institutions’ boundaries for using AI. Encourage students to use AI to study ethically by clearly explaining what is and isn’t acceptable and providing clear examples. Each school will have its own take on the AI revolution, so transparency is paramount to avoid confusion. Ethical boundaries may include the following:

Using AI as a Springboard for Inspiration: AI can be a powerful tool for refining ideas, exploring themes, or narrowing down a topic to research. The key is using it as a first step, or to help you create an outline, rather than as a short-cut to writing an entire essay.

Summarizing and Explaining: When struggling to understand a concept, narrative or idea, AI can be great for summarizing and explaining in layman’s terms large bodies of complicated text. However, students must remember to check the definitions and accuracy of any facts presented by an AI tool.

Avoiding Plagiarism: Relying on AI to write a volume of text is considered a form of plagiarism by most academies, so students need to understand the penalties and consequences of misusing AI in their assignments.

Adopt a Proactive Approach

Higher education institutions have a responsibility to drive forward the evolution of AI in the right direction, so taking a proactive approach is best. Whether you invest in internal AI software or set guidelines for students using programs they find themselves, safety measures are crucial. This may look like the following:

Invest in Security Measures: Some examples of security measures are setting up robust data protection methods such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and anonymization to safeguard student privacy when using AI tools.

Conduct Regular Testing: Any internal AI system should be rigorously and frequently tested to ensure the algorithm is producing accurate, unbiased results.

Discuss the Societal Impact of AI: As an institution, it’s important to take an interest in the development of AI to help promote responsible usage and encourage a positive impact on society from its implementation. 

Keep safe while using AI

AI is evolving fast, and new tools are being developed that could cause anxiety for educators and raise questions about student integrity and academic output. But rather than shying away from AI, setting an example for students on how to use it within ethical boundaries is sure to foster an ethical attitude towards using the technology themselves. Of course, AI must always be used cautiously, but with these tips in mind, students should be able to explore the options available to them ethically. 

This was a guest post from STUDOC. The author, Martin Clarke, is an educator interested in the development of new technologies. Martin enjoys sharing insights into how to use artificial intelligence responsibly and ethically throughout the education sector.

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