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Guidelines for Working with Generative AI in your Classes

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TLC Blogs
By Heather Fitzgerald

Posted on October 30, 2023 | Updated October 31, 2023, 9:43am

Emily Carr University of Art and Design, like post-secondary institutions everywhere, has been wrestling with the arrival of Generative AI (GenAI) technologies on our campus. In an art, media and design context, conversations about the potential uses and misuses of these technologies must necessarily consider a wide spectrum of creative applications, not simply writing.

These conversations are at an early stage at ECU, and this document reflects that. We will update these guidelines as our understanding and these technologies evolve.

During this period of transition, we can help students navigate and understand these new technologies through clear communication and an openness to learning. The following guidelines recommend approaches to encouraging dialogue and ethical practice in relation to Generative AI.

Talk openly about Generative AI in your classes

Students, like instructors, are at different points of learning about GenAI. Conversations about these technologies and their potential uses and misuses can help students critically consider how, whether or why such technologies might benefit their learning or practice.

  • Share your own process of learning about these technologies as a way to model critical inquiry and research.
  • Openly discuss how these technologies may change your approach to teaching or creative practice.
  • Discuss how these technologies have impacted or may impact your discipline.
  • Listen to students who use these technologies to improve accessibility and reduce barriers to learning and consider how you can adjust your practices to accommodate them.

Encourage students to consider or explore the ethical implications of GenAI

  • Point to the biases built into and potentially amplified by these technologies, including gender and race among others, and consider how these technologies could be used for propaganda and disinformation.
  • Encourage conversations about the serious ethical questions arising from the development of these technologies, including questions of unethical data collection, copyright infringement, implications for human labour, and environmental impacts.
  • Explore the idea of collaboration with and through these technologies and consider what this might mean for our understanding of “original work”.

Help students understand the limits and limitations of these platforms:

  • Explain why GenAI technologies are not a comprehensive research tool or a substitute for library research because they were trained on a limited dataset and can’t access information behind paywalls.
  • Teach students to analyze the creative work produced using GenAI, looking for hidden biases or misinformation.
  • Encourage students to review and question the facts and sources cited by GenAI technologies like ChatGPT, as misinterpretations and errors are common.

Make expectations clear in course outlines and assignments

  • Include information in your course outline about whether, how or when GenAI technologies can be used in your class and explain your rationale.
  • Include information in each assignment description about whether, how or when GenAI technologies can be used, and explain why you have made that choice.
  • Remind students about the limits of GenAI use for each assignment or activity both verbally and in writing (on Moodle or in written assignment descriptions).
  • Provide information for students about why they can or cannot use GenAI for any particular task, drawing their attention to the learning outcomes for the assignment.

Sample course outline statements:

Communicate how and when students should document their use of GenAI

  • Bring up ECU’s Academic Integrity policy and remind students that certain uses of Generative AI technologies may constitute academic misconduct.
  • Specify whether and how students need to “cite” collaborations or uses of Generative AI applications in academic writing. You can find examples of citing some AI technologies here:
  • Consider requiring a process or reflection statement for any assignment where students (may have) used GenAI technologies: ask them to explain where in their process they used them, what they learned from using them, and what they would do differently next time.
  • Encourage students to turn in their “collaborations” with Generative AI as part of any assignment and explain how this helps you assess their work.

Help students protect their privacy when using GenAI

Generative AI technologies, like many third party applications, often store user data outside Canada, which is a violation of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Students cannot be required to use applications that violate their rights under FIPPA.

  • Follow the guidelines for using third party applications from the TLC and the Privacy Office.
  • Provide alternate ways for students to use these technologies without surrendering their personal information, such as by creating a shared account for the whole class.
  • Prepare flexibility in assignments for students who are unable to use Generative AI technologies (not all GenAI technologies are available in all countries).
  • Remind students never to share their own or anyone else’s creative or academic work with GenAI technologies unless they know how that work will be stored or used.