Considerations for Using Generative AI Tools

Staying updated on the rapidly evolving generative-AI tools can be challenging, and educators may hold divergent (and strong!) views about them. In a previous blog post, we introduced generative-AI technologies, their capabilities, and implications for higher education. While some educators are enthusiastic about incorporating AI into their teaching methodologies, others may harbor doubts, apprehensions, or simply lack interest in exploring these tools. Regardless of one’s stance, understanding the disruptive impact of these technologies is crucial as we grapple with their ethical and pedagogical implications as educators.

In this post, we will explore some considerations for using generative-AI tools in the classroom, including preliminary precautions and ethical concerns. The more we understand these technologies, the better we can adapt to maximize their potential benefits while minimizing their negative impact.

Things to Consider When Using AI-Powered Tools in your Courses

Understand the inevitability of advancing AI technology.

AI, like many other recent technologies (e.g., personal computers or the internet), will continue to advance and not go away. In fact, they will progress and become better than previous models. This is not something we can “outrun.”

Encourage dialogue on the impact of AI in education

Consider discussing AI technology and its implications with your department, colleagues, and students. In what ways will generative-AI tools change the nature of learning outcomes and even careers in your discipline? How are other instructors responding? In what ways can instructors support each other as they each grapple with these questions?

Provide clear communication with your students on expectations

Whichever camp or situation you may fall into, it is always important to provide students with clear expectations for their use of AI in the classroom. Be specific in your syllabi and assignment descriptions about where and when you will allow or prohibit the use of these tools. You should also make sure whatever guidance you provide is also consistent with UWS Chapter 14 and the communications from our Provost Office. For example statements, view our Syllabus Snippets related to generative-AI

Use generative-AI tools with caution

Exercise caution when using generative-AI tools because the information provided by them may not always be accurate. AI creators, like OpenAI, are upfront about the fact that ChatGPT’s answers aren’t always correct. Due to their ability to hallucinate facts and resources, it’s best to avoid using these tool as a primary source. Be sure to also watch out for potential bias that can appear in outputs by these tools as they are trained on human-generated data.

Offer alternatives for privacy-minded students

If you are asking students to complete an assignment using generative-AI technology, you will also want to provide an opt-out or alternative assignment because students may legitimately not want to provide personal information to sign-up and use certain AI technologies. Many tools openly state they will sell that information.

AI detection tools are not perfect

When using Turnitin’s AI writing detection indicator, it is important to note that there is currently insufficient data to validate its effectiveness. Therefore, results from such reports should be treated as signals that additional review may be necessary. If you suspect academic misconduct, be prepared to support the claim with additional information beyond the detection tool’s report.

Consider ethical and legal issues when using AI tools

As instructors, it is also important to consider the potential ethical, legal, and security risks of AI technologies. Many generative-AI tools are “trained” on the data we put into them, so we must exercise caution when providing prompts to the tools. For example, never put students’ personal information into an AI-powered tool, as this may violate FERPA. Asking students to submit their work (or doing it yourself) to get feedback from ChatGPT or a similar resource puts their intellectual property into the public domain. This should not be done without their explicit consent.

Prepare students to use AI effectively

If you assign tasks that require students to use AI technology, it is important to provide clear instructions about how to do so and not assume students already know. Consider incorporating a discussion on the benefits, limitations, cautions, and ethics of using generative-AI. This could be a valuable in-class activity.

Don’t get caught up in the smoke

Although the capabilities of generative-AI can be scary or worrying at this point, it is best to not get bogged down in the negatives of AI or focus on how to detect cheating through AI use. Are you worried about what AI tools mean for your course materials? Schedule a consultation with us. CATL is here to help!

How Can I Learn More?

CATL has curated a list of readings and additional resources about AI in education, as well as a blog post that explores strategies for creating more “AI-resistant” assessments. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas specific to AI-text generative tools in education and the classroom, please email us at or set up a consultation!