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How will K-12 schools use generative AI in the classroom? NAU institute offers guidance

The Arizona Institute for Education and the Economy is  offering guidance for the use of generative AI in K-12 schools. It’s not a mandate from state officials, but information about how AI works and how it could be used in the classroom.

LeeAnn Lindsey is the institute's director of EdTech and Innovation.

"This didn't come down as an executive order," she said. "We're not the Arizona Department of Education. We really took this project as we want to provide support for school and district leaders, not a directive."

The institute is a new addition to Northern Arizona University, which aims to cultivate policies and solutions that improve K–12 outcomes and ensure long-term statewide economic prosperity.

Lindsey said in February, seven states had released guidance on AI, but Arizona had no plans to do so. So she and her team got to work creating their own.

“I recruited some of the best leaders in the state to help me," she said. "So I had a core team of six people from districts in Phoenix, districts in rural areas and we came together. We looked at the other state guidance documents. We surveyed educators across Arizona to try and find out what they wanted in a guidance document.”

It's a living document that will evolve as technology does.

 “The purpose is to help school leaders make decisions about how they use AI both in and out of the classroom," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said many educators want to push past the idea of students using AI to cheat and figure out how it can be used for teaching and learning in the classroom. That's why the document is split into sections like Understanding GenAI, School and Administrative Use, Powerful Teaching and Learning, Responsible and Ethical Implementation, and Implementation Recommendations.

"We know AI is going to be a game changer for education and we wanted to help AZ educators and school leaders see a common vision for the possibilities ahead," Lindsey said.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.