Five Ethical Considerations to Keep in Mind Before Using AI In Your Classroom

AI Ethics

As teacher leaders, we are excited about the many ways that AI can support student engagement and deepen learning. We also advocate a healthy amount of caution. Before you set students loose in an AI world full of helpful and exciting tools, it is important to note its current drawbacks and implement explicit lessons to build understanding around them. Here, we outline 5 ethical considerations that teachers should be aware of when using AI with students. Please keep in mind that the technology is ever-changing – there may be future issues that are not mentioned here.

Ethical Considerations

1. Plagiarism: A potential drawback of using AI is the risk of plagiarism. Students should be taught how to cite AI appropriately (Noodle Tools has already published guidelines) when used for research and background information. The graphic “ChatGPT and this assignment,” developed by international school librarian Linda Hoiseth, is helpful to share with students before they begin using AI for a research assignment.

Additionally, AI generated film, music, and images are quickly becoming sophisticated and hard to discern from original works. The ethical implications of AI image use link with issues of copyright law and creative rights. Teachers should be having critical conversations with students about how to use and cite images appropriately.

2. Age Restrictions and Mature Content: Teachers should read the terms of service for any AI site before using with students. For example, Poe says, “Use of Poe by anyone under 13 years of age is prohibited.” Teachers working with students under age 13 should obtain parental consent before allowing students to use AI. Some AI may create images (especially of women) that are highly sexualized and/or inappropriate for children.

3. Access: Teachers must remember that some AI tools are free, some are partially free, and others require a fee. Students in the classroom will have varying degrees of access based on socioeconomic status. If a student comes from a more affluent family, they will be more likely to purchase the paid versions of the AI tools, which come with more features. Using AI might further widen the digital divide between those with resources and those without. Some students have devices and internet access at school and home, and some do not. AI can be used for deep learning, but only by those who have access to the technology.

4. Bias and Stereotyping: AI image-creator tools often draw on our collective history and biases when producing images. Asking AI to generate a person from a certain country or cultural background could create an image that has unintended racial or sexist undertones. Both students and teachers need to be conscious of this to prevent perpetuating stereotypes.

Before students use AI in the classroom, it can be beneficial to remind them of the ways that stereotyping can be perpetuated unintentionally. “Insight” and “empathy” become two key concepts for a lesson before using AI. We need to be in constant conversation and communication about the images produced to combat this from happening when some may not have the lens to see the bias.

5. Lack of citations and misinformation: AI does not typically cite sources. Therefore, it is hard to fact check the claims. AI is prone to “hallucinations” and can provide incorrect or nonsensical information, especially when asked higher-level math and science questions. The lack of in-text citations is also a problem for students conducting research, as there are no direct quotes or evidence to support claims made. AI does well writing general essays, but does not do as well when asked to write about specific, localized events. As of publication, ChatGPT’s last knowledge update was in April 2023, so more recent events cannot be trusted to be recalled with accuracy.

If you teach in a school district that has 1:1 access to devices and is open to using AI in the classroom, AI can absolutely boost deep learning among your students. However, it still needs to be used with caution. There are many different issues to sort through, and we have only touched on a few in this article. Much more information and time is needed for us to fully understand how this new technology should and should not be used.

If you are interested in connecting with others about issues surrounding AI in our schools, please join us on Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm for our “Introduction to AI for Educators” webinar. You can sign up here! We hope to see you there.

This article was written by members of AMLE’s Teacher Leaders Constituent Committee. Learn more about AMLE’s constituent committees and other opportunities to get involved.