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AI policy could soon be required for Tennessee schools, some already have one

AI policy could soon be required for Tennessee schools, some already have one
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by students all over Tennessee. Lawmakers are trying to set boundaries for how often students use the new technology.

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At their fingertips, students can get any answer to any assignment thanks to artificial intelligence. Administrators at Tennessee Tech University knew this could be a problem a year and a half ago.

“We were really trying to get out in front of the curve on this,” said Dr. Lori Mann Bruce, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

At that point, Dr. Bruce said the university had to set their own policy for when students and staff access AI.

“If we completely shut it down and allow any use of it, they don’t learn how to appropriately use it,” Dr. Bruce added.

The technology is the reason lawmakers are proposing a bill. It requires public universities and school systems to set an AI policy each year for students, staff, and faculty. They must share that policy with lawmakers each year.

“We all know AI is an ever-evolving technology,” said Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), sponsoring HB 1630, to members of the House Government Operations Committee, on Monday.

“We are kind of in the frontier right here,” he added. “We are trying to get a handle on this in our classrooms before it becomes a problem.”

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Dr. Bruce compares the technology to the introduction of the calculator. She said it has proven to help students get a better education at Tennessee Tech. Their policy lets teachers decide if they want to allow AI, restrict it completely, or use it sometimes.

“Most faculty choose the in-between option,” said Dr. Bruce. “The middle option of there will be some assignments in this class that will be no use of AI, and there might be some assignments in this class where you are allowed to use AI as a part of it.”

It’s that choice she hopes other universities will think of should this legislation pass.

“Allow some flexibility there for the university to adopt a policy that works for their enterprise,” said Dr. Bruce.

The bill was passed to the House Calendar and Rules Committee. The Senate will hear the bill in the Education Committee on Wednesday.

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