AI proving to be both ‘a problem and opportunity’ for schools across Puget Sound region

SEATTLE — Using chatbots to cheat and tapping artificial intelligence to learn — this is the first full school year where students will have those options.

AI has grown fast, and schools, teachers, and the state are scrambling to deal with it.

Technically, you have to be 18 or older to sign up for Chat GPT, but say if you’re a student at Issaquah High School, are 18, or you can figure out your way around it, in the time it takes you to come from the parking lot, to walk through the doors and to your locker, is more than enough time to sign up for the app that can practically answer any question.

“Our students are digital natives, they jump on to new tech faster than we do,” said Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Services at Issaquah High School, Richard Mellish.

It’s a hot topic for this school year, using AI in schools, and not using it to cheat.

For Issaquah schools, there are measures for those concerns.

“We have a policy for technology,” said Mellish.

Mellish says using AI is covered by students’ responsible use agreement. It gives guides to academic standards and now has specifics on potential chatbot cheating, including following teachers’ rules.

“Preserve their academic integrity by always citing their use, never passing off products that come from a chatbot as their own product,” said Mellish.

“It’s both a problem and an opportunity,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org.

The Seattle-based organization helps teach computer science in schools.

Partovi says surveys show 50% of teens admitted they’ll use AI for homework.

“School is going to need to evolve. Instead of trying to get you to not use AI for doing your homework, to teach you how to use AI to do your homework,” said Partovi.

Code.org recommends teacher training and has videos for them on AI basics. Partovi also has some bold advice for students.

“Even if your school is banning it, learn how AI works and learn how to use it, but not just to do your homework for you, but to get started on doing your work,” said Partovi.

Washington school districts may have different AI policies, but similar goals.

“That the use of chatbots enhances learning and enhances a student’s voice, and it doesn’t supplant the learning or supplant the student’s voice,” said Mellish.