Rethinking acceptable use policies in the age of AI

Kimberly West
Kimberly West
Dr. Kimberly West is CEO of i2eEDU. Her work focuses on instructional leadership and policy design, centered on redefining how we educate today’s learners. She believes a vital component is the role technology plays in providing equity and access to quality education for all students.

As AI becomes more prevalent and powerful, especially generative AI, schools are grappling with how it fits in the educational setting. I can understand the sense of urgency in creating policies around AI, but perhaps this is an opportunity to revisit Acceptable Use Policies overall. Most school systems have some kind of policy in place to define the rules and expectations for the use of technology in an educational setting. Creating a policy around the use of AI feels familiar to our past AUP endeavors. Do we really need a separate policy for AI or is this an ideal opportunity to address gaps in current acceptable use policies, and instead create one policy that ties it all together?

Focus less on your AUP sustaining the test of time – it is a waste of your, well, time. It’s like developing policy based on surfing the perfect wave. Every time you think you have the technique figured out, innovation takes a different direction and throws you off your board. Use your district’s vision and mission as the anchor, anticipate that whatever policy is enacted, it needs to have flexibility to easily pivot as new technologies emerge.

Creating the AUP

Think carefully about who needs to be involved in this process. If you are working towards wide-scale acceptance of the committee’s recommendations, there needs to be at least one voice at the table for all stakeholders – including a student voice.

Identify the committee lead. My recommendation is to have an instructional technology coach or specialist in that position, if possible. Coaches sit in a unique position. They are the connection between the classroom, school, district, and IT. They have an invaluable perspective and are expert facilitators. They are viewed as both leaders and colleagues. They are less likely to come to the table with an agenda; real or perceived.

  1. Have a starting point to level set. This first time together will set the stage for a successful outcome. Ask the committee to identify what they are excited about, as well as their concerns. This will help everyone better understand where each person is starting from the beginning.
  2. Break down key vocabulary and how it translates into an educational setting. Don’t assume everyone knows the terminology, and even if they do, they may have a very different interpretation of its meaning. 3.
  3. Have the team complete this short course on an Introduction to AI ahead of time.
  4. Frame guidance from a positive angle. Identify key issues your district is grappling with finding solutions. How can AI support these challenges?
  5. Are you only focused on academic integrity? How do social and emotional factors apply to AI policy?
  6. Remember to always go back to the core values of the district as your North Star.

Getting approval

Although School Board approval is the goal to finalize your committee’s work, there is a lot of work to be done beforehand. Have you done due diligence with surveying and talking with those who will be most impacted: Teachers, parents, IT, school leadership, and most importantly, students? Be persistent in this aspect. I have never heard a teacher complain about a newly adopted policy because of too much input from them.

Continuing the work

Use the outcome of your work to further guide curriculum and instruction. If you have instructional coaches, encourage them to work with department heads and grade-level leads to create AUP agreements appropriate for the age of the student.

Additional resources to get started:


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