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JCPS is 'proceeding with caution' when it comes to AI in the classroom

Kentucky's largest school district says though teachers will be able to use AI software on school devices, students will not be allowed to.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the first day of school looms closer and closer, Jefferson County Public School officials say their policy on Chat GPT and other forms of AI in the classroom is defined. Specifically, defined by the terms of service for those programs.

Kermit Belcher is the Chief Information officer for JCPS and says those terms say that anyone under the age of 13 is not permitted to use the programs, and anyone between 13 and 18 needs a parent’s permission.

That’s how JCPS says they will proceed.

“We’ve been proceeding with caution,” Belcher said.

He says that the district is walking a fine line with AI; trying to balance allowing students to learn about it and teachers to use it, without letting it affect classwork and homework.

“With anything technology, you can’t completely block that. I mean we can on our network, we can on our devices, but honestly students have the internet at their fingertips, a lot of them do, with a cellphone,” Belcher said. “So we have to understand, students are going to have access to that.”

So how is the district going to address that issue?

Belcher says that over the last year, district officials have developed what they call a ‘Digital Citizenship’ program that they are working into their "Backpack of Success Skills." That program will teach students about digital literacy, understanding social media, and the proper way to use technology.

“If you have a strong instructional plan or a business, it can be an accelerator. But if you don’t it can be a distraction,” Belcher said.

“We have to look at authentic learning assignments. I mean what are you going to do in the real world, are you going to be able to use this in a job, how would you use it, and so how can we teach students to use that properly in the classroom,” he continued.

Belcher said that the district will allow teachers to access Chat GPT and AI on their networks and devices, but they will not allow students to have that access.

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