Brophy seeks to embrace possibilities, challenges with AI technology

What does it mean to live and go to school in a world where a computer can easily write and produce art for us? Generative AI technology rushed into the world in late 2022 and allows users to create unique content with the push of a button.

The Jesuit model of education is one that has always pushed its students to the frontiers—both the literal frontiers of society and also the frontiers of learning and knowledge. In this tradition, Brophy views technology not as an evil to be avoided or a distraction to be controlled but as an evolving method of communication, a mechanism for acquiring knowledge, and a powerful instrument to enhance creativity, collaboration, and innovation. 

AI technology has potential to be both instrumental to progress and disruptive to education, future careers, and other business and intellectual endeavors. In full awareness of that, rather than avoid or block AI, we plan to incorporate it into learning and classroom conversations, explore the new possibilities it creates, and examine the ethics, inequities, and risks of computer-generated content.

Generative AI technology offers potential and pitfalls

What is generative AI technology? ChatGPT launched in November 2022 and has been the most widely used of these new tools. We entered the prompt “Describe generative technology” into ChatGPT and asked for a four- to five-sentence summary. We received this response within seconds:

“Generative AI technology is a type of artificial intelligence that uses machine learning algorithms to analyze patterns and structures in large datasets of existing content, and then use that knowledge to generate new and original content. This technology has the potential to transform a wide range of industries by enabling the rapid creation of high-quality content that is similar in style and structure to human-generated content. It can be used to create realistic images and videos, generate natural-sounding speech and text, and even compose music. However, it also raises important ethical and social questions about the role of AI in society, and the potential impact of AI-generated content on human creativity, culture, and employment. As the technology continues to evolve, it will be important to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of using generative AI.”

Even this quick demonstration reveals that, like most technology, AI clearly has both amazing potential and pitfalls. AI can be used for ideation, research, writing, editing, and problem solving. It can also just as easily be used for disinformation and plagiarism. This dichotomy is something we are used to on campus and we will continue to operate within this tension. 

Academic integrity is vital; students should only use AI with teacher permission

While AI technology will surely mean changes for schools across the globe, Brophy’s existing academic ethics policy is a good point of departure for how students should look at using these new tools for their work. 
The handbook states in part: 
“When a teacher gives a student an assignment — homework, essay, project, lab, etc. — or when a quiz or exam is given, that teacher is building the framework for the student’s learning. When the student returns the assignment or takes the quiz or exam, his name at the top of the assignment indicates that he has followed the teacher’s directions and has not taken credit for any work that is not his own.” 
If students complete an assignment in a way that is not consistent with a teacher’s instructions and include work that is not their own, they are violating our academic ethics policy. The use of AI in classes will vary, but regardless of the course, students should not use AI to generate any content without explicit permission from their teachers. Students are encouraged to ask their teachers for clarity about when to appropriately use AI as part of any assignments or assessments.

School priorities with a quickly evolving technology

At Brophy, we will…
  1. Consult about AI policies, practices, possibilities, and concerns with a wide range of stakeholders including faculty, students, parents, educational experts, and industry leaders.
  2. Review and revise our academic integrity policies relating to AI technology as needed to provide clear expectations for students, teachers and families.
  3. Explore innovative applications for generative AI in the classroom and provide professional development for faculty for writing and assessment practices.
  4. Continue to advocate for transparent, ethical, and equitable technology usage.
  5. Inform students and parents about major developments in AI and their impact on academic endeavors.

Our classrooms are adapting and will continue to evolve

There is important work to be done when it comes to AI in schools, but the technology is here now and in our students’ hands. We know most, if not all, students have heard about these tools and many have already used them. Therefore, in the short term as we navigate AI, encourage effective classroom uses and simultaneously promote a culture of academic integrity, students can expect more in-class writing assignments, a continued requirement to use plagiarism detection services such as Turnitin, and writing done within tools such as Respondus LockDown Browser. Multiple services are launching AI detection tools, which we are currently investigating. 

Brophy administrators and faculty will continue to explore this topic and seek input on what this means for our campus from a wide range of stakeholders including students, parents, educational leaders, and technology experts. We will craft guidelines and practices that align with our Jesuit ideals and existing academic integrity policies in order to embrace the powerful potential of generative AI. We will also aim to help students avoid the moral hazards these tools create and value the human component of any content they consume. 

In the long term, reasonable measures to promote academic integrity are only part of the solution. We will provide professional development for faculty to reimagine how we teach writing and content creation across the curriculum, especially in a world where computers can now create so much for us.

Looking toward the future, we know we must continue to evolve our pedagogy, including the intent of student projects, and how we can emphasize critical thinking and authentic demonstrations of understanding. Generative AI will undoubtedly make some tasks more efficient, which will open new doors and create more time and energy for students to reinvest into their work. As platforms and practices rapidly evolve, we must clearly articulate expectations for the use of this technology in all of our school assignments, and in a bigger sense, the post-academia world students will soon enter. As with all of our campus technology, we have a responsibility to teach students how to effectively and ethically use these tools to seek the greater glory of God.