4 Setting Policy and Communicating Expectations

How can AI tools be effectively and responsibly utilized in education?

This chapter explores:

  • how institutional policies can promote responsible and ethical use of AI tools;
  • how instructional staff can create or co-create course AI policies that enhance learning;
  • how AI usage guidelines can be shared and reinforced along with each assignment;
  • how learning outcomes should be reconsidered now that powerful AI tools are widely available.

Integrating AI in Education

Educators who attempt to ban students from using AI tools in all aspects of their coursework are engaging in a losing battle. Moreover, this approach is a disservice to their students, who will likely be expected to know how to use AI tools responsibly and effectively in their future workplaces. Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton of the University of Calgary supports this viewpoint, stating that AI tools “can be used ethically for teaching, learning and assessment,” and that student use doesn’t necessarily constitute an academic integrity breach.[1]

AI is here to stay and will be integrated into most aspects of education. Accordingly, institutions, departments, and instructors need to set policy and clarify learning outcomes, and provide students with clear expectations on AI use for every assignment.

Setting Institutional Policy

An October 2023 report from the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association recommends that institutional policies should be developed that promote the “effective, creative, equitable, and responsible use/nonuse” of AI tools and promote staff learning and experimentation around AI tools.[2] See the table below for a selection of AI policy/guideline highlights from Canadian polytechnics. Clicking any link in the table will download a PDF copy of the institution’s policy statement.

Institution Key Policy Details
  • Allows the use of AI tools for creating first drafts of course schedules, lesson plans, learning outcomes, quiz questions and more.
  • Encourages instructors to engage students in interacting with AI to act as a debate partner, to summarize a lesson, and to generate questions and images.
  • Promotes student learning around prompting and responsible use of AI tools.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Allows instructional staff to permit or ban AI tools in their courses.
  • States that students can’t be required to create an account with an AI tool.
  • Suggests numerous ways to integrate AI into courses to enhance learning.
  • Proposes several ways that educators can encourage students to think critically about AI outputs.
Red River College Polytechnic
  • Recommends open conversations with students about AI tools at the beginning of the course and with each assessment.
  • Suggests defining acceptable and unacceptable use of AI tools within a course or discipline.
Seneca Polytechnic
  • Promotes critical engagement with AI tools.
  • Encourages student learning around the benefits and drawbacks of AI tools, with a focus on the development of human skills.

Educators and students should check with their institutions for emerging policy and guidance on appropriate use of AI tools. For a roundup of AI policies at educational institutions, visit Higher Education Strategy Associates’ Observatory on AI Policies in Canadian Post-Secondary Education.

Engaging Students on the Topic of AI

Discussion around AI tools should begin early in a course, ideally in the first week when introducing the course outline. This raises student awareness that AI tools are a part of the educational landscape, and positions the instructor as one who is aware of AI’s capabilities and is willing to talk about appropriate usage.

Creating a Course AI Policy

Course AI policies set clear expectations about acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI tools. Policies should clearly state how AI tools can be ethically used for coursework as well as procedures for documenting AI use on assignments.  Depending on institutional and departmental protocols, there may be a set policy that instructors need to share with their class, or instructors may be able to set their own or co-create a policy with their students. In any case, instructors must ensure that their course’s AI policy aligns with their institution’s policy on AI use, and are also responsible for following institutional policies regarding consistency across different sections of a course and courses within a program.

Several RRC Polytech instructors have reported success in engaging classes in establishing a course AI policy. Two RRC Polytech communication instructors conducted activities in which the classes were divided into groups and asked to draft lists of acceptable and unacceptable uses for AI tools on upcoming assignments. Subsequently, each group shared their lists, and the class collaboratively developed an AI policy for their course. In some cases students set stricter policies than the instructor would have chosen.[3] Indeed, many students want to engage with AI tools but don’t want to miss out on developing critical thinking and other key skills.[4]

Both instructors found that co-creating an AI policy led to an increase in dialogue around AI tools throughout the course and a decrease in AI-based plagiarism compared to the previous term.[5] Research shows that engaging students in collaborative decision making around expectations leads to better uptake of a class policy, a more positive classroom culture, and increased engagement.[6]

See the following text box for an example of a collaboratively drafted AI policy.


Generative AI and COMM-1173

In our Week 2 class meeting on Sept. 8, we worked together to create a policy for use of  Generative AI tools like ChatGPT in this course. This policy applies to our section of COMM-1173 only. For other courses, ask your instructor before using AI tools. Students in other sections of COMM-1173 should ask their instructor before using AI tools as part of their course work.

Acceptable uses of AI Tools

  • To use it as a tutor/find out more about a topic after completing your course readings.
  • In research, to generate a list of resources to explore.
  • To generate a list of possible topics for a project.
  • To generate an image for a presentation.
  • To look for errors in your work (it is never okay for an AI tool to rewrite your work for submission; instead, ask it to generate a list of suggestions for improvement).

If you’d like to use AI tools to help you in a way that isn’t listed here, please contact me.

Unacceptable Uses of AI Tools

  • Writing content for your assignment (an essay, paragraph, sentence), or content for you to adapt to put in your assignment.
  • Citing the AI tool as a source in a research project.
  • Paraphrasing research materials for your assignment.
  • Generating ideas for a reflection assignment.
  • Rewriting, revising, or reorganizing your work.

Other Considerations

  • if you use a generative AI tool to help you with an assignment in any way, you must include a note at the bottom of your document that explains how you used the AI tool. Failing to note the ways that you used AI in your assignment could be considered an Academic Integrity breach.
  • here’s an example of how you can note your AI usage: I used ChatGPT to generate a list of twelve possible topics. I adapted one of these topics for my paper. When I finished writing, I asked ChatGPT to review my work and make suggestions about grammar, punctuation, and organization. It made twenty-four suggestions. I implemented some of these suggestions.
  • if you use AI tools to help you with an assignment, save copies of your interactions with the AI tool. ChatGPT will do this automatically as long as you leave the Chat History & Training setting on.
  • make sure that you understand the limitations/weaknesses of any AI tool that you use. This article summarizes the major limitations of ChatGPT.

Setting Clear Expectations on Assignments

Students need to be presented with clear expectations about how AI tools can be used on each assignment. For courses with an established AI policy, students could be asked to revisit the policy once a new assignment is presented, and report back about how AI tools can and can’t be used. Another approach is to include a ‘stoplight header’ on each assignment that indicates how AI tools can be used, with red representing no AI usage on this assignment, green indicating that AI tools are allowed, and yellow meaning to ask the instructor before using AI tools.[7] It’s also possible that an assignment could have red, yellow, and green guidelines for particular tasks within the same assignment.


Image with the heading The Importance of Clarity in AI Usage: Guidelines for Classroom Activities. Below the heading is an image of a police officer wearing a hi-vis vest labelled 'traffic', holding both her hands up with palms facing out, indicating Stop. There is a red stoplight, and the text beside it reads: Option #1, collaboration with AI software (eg: ChatGPT) is not permitted on this activity. Below that, there is a yellow traffic light, and the text reads Option #2: Students are required to obtain permission from me before collaborating with peers or AI chatbots (like ChatGPT) on this activity. Below that is a green traffic light, and the text reads Option #3, Students are encouraged to use AI software (eg: ChatGPT) for their work on this activity but must first see me so we can discuss how they plan to use these tools and how they will indicate their use in their work.
A stoplight header for indicating allowed AI usage, from The Importance of Clarity in AI Usage Guidelines for Classroom Activities by Sam Mormando, licensed CC-BY-SA. Click the image to link to the article.

Many course and institutional policies around student use of AI tools require students to disclose the role that AI tools played in creating an assignment. This might involve a simple declaration in the assignment or footnotes that explains how AI was used. Theresa Senft of Macquarie University has required students to submit full documentation of AI usage on assignments, including the prompts used, information gained, and explanations of how that information was used. This task was designed to highlight the importance of documentation in AI usage, considering the numerous examples of AI-generated hallucinations and errors resulting in employment termination.[8] This type of exercise has several other benefits—it gives students an opportunity for feedback on their prompting and AI literacy, promotes critical thinking about how AI outputs are adapted and used, and models responsible use of AI tools.

The image below shows the beginning of Theresa Senft’s AI tools documentation template. Click the image to view the full template.


Screenshot of a Google Doc with the heading AI TOOLS DOCUMENTATION TEMPLATE. The text below the heading reads MMCC8046 AY 2023 Students who use AI tools to prepare their assessment must SUBMIT THIS TEMPLATE (To learn how to use this template, please see page 2 of this document. Questions? Terri.senft@mq.edu.au). Below that, there is a table with the headings Student name, Student email address, Today's date. Below that, another table with the headings Session, Date time tool link, First prompt, follow up prompt (s), most useful info from tool, how I used info from tool in assessment, notes or questions for Terri. Two more rows of the chart are visible, where students can enter information for session 1 and session 2.
Part of Theresa Senft’s AI Tools Documentation Template.

Clarifying Learning Outcomes

The rapid rise of powerful AI tools has reminded instructors of the need to critically consider how assignments connect to learning outcomes and real-world tasks. It also serves as a reminder to engage in dialogue with students about the learning outcomes for each assignment, why they are important, and how they will prepare students for the workplace. This can be useful alongside each new module or theme and as each assignment is introduced. Carly Schnitzler of Johns Hopkins University suggests exploring the importance of course learning outcomes while crafting a course AI policy, with a provocative discussion question like “What’s the point of being in a writing class, if language models can generate passable text and score well on exams?”[9]

With the power of today’s AI tools, learning outcomes may need to be adjusted to ensure that they reflect skills that students will need in the workforce and that AI tools are not able to reasonably demonstrate. Oregon State University suggests an updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which focuses on “distinctive human skills” that go beyond the capabilities of AI tools.[10]

The following image shows Oregon State University’s suggestions for updating Bloom’s Taxonomy. Click the image for more information, or download a PDF copy of Bloom’s Taxonomy Revisited.


An image titled Bloom's Taxonomy Revisited. Below the heading the text reads: Use this table as a reference for evaluating and making changes to aligned course activities and assessments (or, where possible, learning outcomes) that account for generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool capabilities and distinctive human skills. All course activities and assessments will benefit from review given the capabilities of AI tools; those at the remember and Analyze levels may be more likely to need amendment. To the right there is a revised Bloom's Taxonomy chart with the six levels listed in the first column: Create, evaluate, analyze, apply, understand, remember. The headings a the top are Recommendation, AI Capabilities, Distinctive Human Skills. The first row below the header is labeled 'Create.' It reads: recommendation: review. AI Capabilities: Suggest a range of alternatives, enumerate potential drawbacks and advantages, describe successful real-world cases. Distinctive Human Skills: Formulate original solutions incorporating human judgement, collaborate spontaneously. The next row is 'Evaluate'. It reads: recommendation: Review. AI capabilities: Identify pros and cons of various courses of action, develop rubrics. Distinctive Human Skills: Engage in metacognitive reflection, holistically appraise ethical consequences of alternative courses of action. The next row is 'Analyze'. It reads: recommendation: Amend. AI capabilities: Compare and contrast data, infer trends and themes, compute, predict. Distinctive Human Skills: Critically think and reason within the cognitive and affective domains, interpret and relate to authentic problems, decisions, & choices. The next row is 'Apply'. It reads: recommendation: Review. AI capabilities: Make use of a process, model, or method to illustrate how to solve a quantitative inquiry. Distinctive Human Skills: Operate, implement, conduct, execute, experiment, and test in the real world; apply creativity and imagination to idea & solution development. The next row is 'Understand'. It reads: recommendation: Review. AI capabilities: Describe a concept in different words, recognize a related example, translate. Distinctive Human Skills: Contextualize answers within emotional, moral, or ethical considerations. The final row is 'Remember'. It reads: recommendation: Amend. AI capabilities: Recall factual information, list possible answers, define a term, construct a basic chronolgy. Distinctive Human Skills: Recall information in situations where technology is not readily accessible.
Bloom’s Taxonomy Revisited from Oregon State University, licensed CC-BY 4.0.

Key Takeaways

  • Institutional and course AI policies should be created, which encourage responsible and ethical use of AI tools.
  • Co-creating an AI policy with students can lead to greater understanding and uptake of the policy.
  • Students need clear guidelines on each assignment about how AI tools can and can’t be used.
  • Learning outcomes need to be revised to focus on distinctive human skills.
  • Educators need to clarify the importance of course learning outcomes, especially when it seems like an AI tool can complete the task reasonably well.


  • Investigate your institution’s policy on AI use in teaching and learning.
  • Reflect on what a fair and reasonable AI use policy would look like in your courses. Would you engage students in co-creating a policy, and if so, how?
  • Draft a plan for communicating AI policies in your next courses, at the beginning of your next course and as each assignment is presented.
  • Consider whether any of your courses’ learning outcomes need to be updated. How could you update them to focus on distinctive human skills?


  1. Sarah Elaine Eaton and Lorelei Anselmo, "Teaching and Learning with Artificial Intelligence Apps," University of Calgary, last modified January 12, 2023, https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/sites/default/files/teams/1/Resources/AI/Teaching-With-AI-Apps.pdf.
  2. George Veletsianos, "Generative Artificial Intelligence in Canadian Post-Secondary Education: AI Policies, Possibilities, Realities, and Futures," Canadian Digital Learning Research Association, accessed January 30, 2024, https://www.d2l.com/resources/assets/cdlra-2023-ai-report/.
  3. Anonymous focus group participants, November 2023.
  4. Olina Banerji, "How Schools Are Coaching—or Coaxing—Teachers to Use ChatGPT," EdSurge, last modified August 3, 2023, https://www.edsurge.com/news/2023-08-03-how-schools-are-coaching-or-coaxing-teachers-to-use-chatgpt.
  5. Anonymous focus group participants, November 2023; Anonymous RRC Polytech instructor, February 2024.
  6. Hope Wilder, "Collaborative Classroom Management," Edutopia, last modified January 19, 2022, https://www.edutopia.org/article/collaborative-classroom-management/.
  7. Samuel Mormando, "The Importance of Clarity in AI Usage Guidelines for Classroom Activities," Medium, last modified September 7, 2023, https://medium.com/@SamMormando/the-importance-of-clarity-in-ai-usage-guidelines-for-classroom-activities-d24009b52d22.
  8. Theresa Senft, "AI Tools Documentation," Exploring AI Pedagogy—A Community Collection of Teaching Reflections, last modified November 14, 2023, https://exploringaipedagogy.hcommons.org/2023/11/14/developing-ai-standards-of-conduct-as-a-class/.
  9. Carly Schnitzler, "Developing AI Standards of Conduct as a Class," Exploring AI Pedagogy—A Community Collection of Teaching Reflections, last modified November 14, 2023, https://exploringaipedagogy.hcommons.org/2023/11/14/developing-ai-standards-of-conduct-as-a-class/.
  10. Oregon State University, "Artificial Intelligence Tools," Online | Ecampus, accessed February 2, 2024, https://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/faculty/artificial-intelligence-tools/meaningful-learning/.


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Generative Artificial Intelligence: Practical Uses in Education Copyright © 2024 by Troy Heaps is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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