Adding AI to Your School District’s Acceptable Use Policy

Abstract image of an acceptable use policy.
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Wherever you are in your journey to AI-readiness, your district’s acceptable use policy likely looms as a high-priority update. But how much overlap is there between your existing AUP and the ways in which AI is being used—or has the potential to be used—throughout the district? What considerations are unique to AI? What’s the best way to mitigate risk without stifling innovation and creativity?

Know this: you are not alone. Thousands of school systems are still wrestling with the whos, hows, whys, whats, and whens of AI implementation. In this article, we’ll provide both a templated outline and a sample Acceptable Use Policy addendum. Whenever possible, we recommend a collaborative review of any policy updates with key stakeholders, including legal counsel, teachers, parents, and even students. The more voices that can be accounted for throughout the process, the more buy-in and awareness you’ll have on the other end.

Transparency note: The outline and example shared below were both generated with assistance from ChatGPT, with multiple layers of iterative prompting and human review. This would qualify as an “acceptable use” under the policy and is exactly the kind of AI-supported task that should be encouraged with the right level of human oversight.

Start with the basics: Breaking Down the K-12 Generative AI Readiness Checklist

AI Tools Acceptable Use Policy Addendum Outline

Skip to the example with full policy language

  1. Overview
    • Explanation of the purpose and scope of AI use within the district.
    • Statement on the district’s commitment to ethical, responsible, and safe use of AI technologies.
  2. Definitions
    • Definition and clarification of any technical terms that will be used in the AUP. This might include “generative AI,” “large language models,” “machine learning,” or “automated decision making.”
  3. Access and Permissions
    • Guidelines on who can access AI tools, under what circumstances, and how access controls will be enforced and maintained.
    • Definition of the district’s vetting and approval process for AI tools. Provide direction for submission of AI tools for review.
    • Outline of restrictions on AI tool usage, including software not approved for use by the district.
  4. Ethical Use
    • Prohibitions against using AI tools for cheating, plagiarism, or any form of academic dishonesty.
    • Rules against using AI to generate inappropriate content or engage in harmful behavior.
    • Guidelines for respectful interaction with AI and consideration of its impact on learning.
    • Definition of the district’s Impact Assessment process for any tools that automate decision making or play a significant role in the learning environment.
  5. Privacy, Security, and Data Protection
    • Explanation of data privacy considerations, including what data AI tools can collect and how it is protected.
    • Requirements for AI tools to comply with existing data privacy laws (FERPA, COPPA, HIPAA, etc…).
    • Instructions for students and staff on how to handle sensitive or personal information when using AI tools.
    • Instructions for students and staff on AI tool age restrictions and terms of use.
    • Obligations for users to maintain the security of their accounts and the information accessed through AI tools.
  6. Academic Integrity
    • Clarification of how AI tools can be used to support learning without violating principles of academic integrity.
    • Examples of acceptable vs. unacceptable uses of AI in assignments, projects, and assessments.
  7. Monitoring and Enforcement
    • Statement on the district’s right to monitor the use of AI tools for compliance with the AUP. Include a statement of no right to privacy for any AI tools accessed on school networks or equipment.
    • Consequences of violating the AI tools usage policy, ranging from warnings to disciplinary actions.
  8. Review and Modification
    • Information on how and when the policy will be reviewed and potentially updated.
    • Information on how stakeholders will be informed of changes to the policy.
    • Process for stakeholders to provide feedback on the policy.
  9. Acknowledgement
    • Requirement for all stakeholders to acknowledge they have read and understand the AUP.

AI Tools Acceptable Use Policy Example

  1. Overview
    • In recognition of the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and their potential to enhance educational experiences, [Sample School District] is committed to facilitating the responsible and effective use of AI tools within our schools. This addendum to the district’s Acceptable Use Policy outlines guidelines and expectations for the use of AI technologies. The objective of these guidelines is to ensure that all tools used to support learning, teaching, and administration are aligned with our mission and values.
  2. Definitions
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Computer systems or software that perform tasks requiring human intelligence, including but not limited to learning, decision-making, and language processing.
    • Large Language Models (LLMs): A type of AI that processes and generates human-like text based on vast amounts of data. LLMs can understand, converse, translate, and create content in natural language.
    • Machine Learning: A subset of AI that involves computers learning from data without being explicitly programmed for specific tasks.
    • Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI’s ability to understand and generate human language.
    • Generative AI: AI technologies that can generate new content, including text, images, audio, and video, based on their training data. These tools can be used for creative and educational purposes but must be used with consideration for accuracy, appropriateness, and originality.
  3. Access and Permissions
    • Access to approved AI tools is granted to students, faculty, and staff for educational and administrative purposes only.
    • Requests for new AI tools must be submitted to the Technology Department for review and approval, ensuring compliance with district standards for privacy, security, and educational value. Submissions must adhere to the process outlined [here (link to web page or resource guide)].
    • AI tools are not considered approved until final authorization has been granted, signed, and communicated by the [Chief Technology Officer].
  4. Ethical Use
    • Users must not employ AI tools to conduct or support cheating, plagiarism, or any academic dishonesty.
    • Users must not employ AI tools to automate decision making without human oversight. The district believes in the Always Center Educators (ACE) model promoted by the United States Department of Education. Any output of artificial intelligence or machine learning will be limited to suggestions and recommendations—final decisions must be made by human beings with the appropriate review, nuance, and context.
    • Generative AI content that is inappropriate, offensive, or harmful is strictly prohibited.
    • Respect and courtesy must be maintained when interacting with AI systems, recognizing their impact on the learning environment.
    • Users should be aware of the potential for AI bias in tools and consider this when interpreting AI-generated information or content. The district encourages critical thinking and scrutiny of AI outputs and training data sets for large language models and other generative AI tools, promoting discussions on how biases can affect the fairness and accuracy of AI-generated content. Natural language processing functions are expected to be accessible and consistent for students of all languages and dialects. Users are encouraged to report instances of perceived bias to the technology department for further investigation.
  5. Privacy, Security, and Data Protection
    • Users must be aware of data privacy concerns with AI tools, especially regarding the handling of personal and sensitive information.
    • Personally identifiable, confidential, and/or sensitive information should never be shared with an AI tool unless such sharing is explicitly approved by the district.
    • All AI tools must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and other relevant privacy laws.
    • The district ensures that AI tools employed have robust security measures to protect user data from unauthorized access.
    • Users are expected to be aware of and comply with the terms and conditions of all AI tools, specifically with respect to age requirements. The district technology department maintains a list of minimum age and parental consent rules here (link to district web page or resource guide).
    • Users are responsible for securing their accounts and personal information when using AI tools.
    • The district conducts regular security assessments of AI technologies to safeguard against vulnerabilities.
  6. Academic Integrity
    • AI tools should supplement the educational process without undermining the integrity of academic work. Examples of appropriate use include generating ideas for brainstorming sessions, providing tutoring in specific subjects, and automating administrative tasks.
    • Direct submission of AI-generated work as one’s own without proper attribution or reliance on AI for completing assignments without understanding the content is prohibited.
    • Users must respect copyright laws and intellectual property rights when using AI tools. This includes not using AI to replicate or modify copyrighted materials without authorization and properly citing all sources of content, including AI-generated content, to avoid plagiarism.
  7. Monitoring and Enforcement
    • The district reserves the right to monitor the use of AI tools to ensure compliance with this policy.
    • This may include real-time monitoring of network activity and/or maintaining a log of Internet activity for later review.
    • There is no right to privacy on the district’s network or devices. All users should operate under the assumption that all online activity, including digital communications and interactions with AI tools, will be visible to the district’s system administrators.
    • Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to suspension of access to technology resources, disciplinary measures as per the student and employee handbooks, and notification of supervisors, parents, or guardians.
  8. Review and Modification
    • This policy will be reviewed regularly to adapt to new challenges and opportunities presented by AI technologies.
    • Feedback from teachers, students, parents, and staff is welcome and can be submitted to the Technology Department for consideration during the review process.
    • Updates to the policy will be communicated via district email and/or the user’s preferred contact method.
  9. Acknowledgement
    • All users of district technology resources are required to acknowledge they have read, understood, and agree to abide by this addendum and the broader Acceptable Use Policy.

More District AI Resources

Need a starting point for impact assessments and vendor vetting? Want to give yourself a leg up on generative AI readiness? Check out these templates and best practices from EdTech Evolved:

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