Academic Integrity and Generative AI: Best Practices

Image generated using DALL-E (Open AI, 2023) from the prompt, intersection of artificial intelligence and education.

Over the past year, there has been remarkable progress, resilience, and adaptability around the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and education. AI is a broad term that encompasses generative AI (GenAI) and Large Language Models (LLM) like ChatGPT. The Oxford English Dictionary simply defines AI as “the capacity of computers or other machines to exhibit or simulate intelligent behaviour.” The growth of AI emphasizes the need for digital literacy as AI becomes an integral part of education. Preparing for AI in education involves expanding the scope of digital literacy. This demands specific skills from students and educators alike. Digital literacy can be defined as a person’s ability to use digital tools ethically and effectively in various contexts. It involves accessing, interpreting, and evaluating information, as well as creating new knowledge and communicating with others (Digital Learning Advisory Committee, 2021). AI literacy focuses on the level of understanding and knowledge about AI among individuals. In contrast, AI readiness is about an organization’s overall capacity and preparedness to implement and manage AI technologies (Luckin et al., 2022).

Building upon this understanding of digital literacy and AI readiness, VIU has enhanced its capabilities in these areas. The Office of the President at VIU, in collaboration with faculty members, the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, and the General Counsel and University Secretary, focused on reviewing the use of GenAI tools in learning and teaching at VIU. This comprehensive review led to the development of best practices, which are summarized in VIU’s newly released position statement on Academic Integrity and Generative Artificial Intelligence

VIU’s statement acknowledges the potential that GenAI tools have when used appropriately. They can assist in adapting learning designs in various ways, supporting critical thinking, collaboration, reflection, creativity, and critical assessment of GenAI-generated content. BCcampus also highlights how GenAI can support planning learning activities and developing resources, including:

  • Creating question sets, case studies, and other teaching materials.
  • Writing descriptions for pictures to assist visually impaired individuals.
  • Producing drawings, lifelike images, and educational videos.
  • Writing scripts for videos and podcasts.
  • Summarizing large sections of text.
  • Converting written text into audio, often for accessibility.
  • Translating text into different languages.

VIU’s statement on GenAI enables faculty to build AI literacy skills, contextualize GenAI within learning outcomes, and leverage AI to enhance student learning. Faculty retain the discretion to decide how and to what extent they integrate technology into their teaching. Though AI tools can be extremely valuable, they come with ethical concerns and risks.

Ethical Concerns and Potential Risks

There is no straightforward answer about how to make good decisions about procuring and using AI. A major issue is the lack of transparency. GenAI is being added to different software, so one may not even realize they are using it. Also, the training data and programming logic are not public, and even developers may not fully understand their tools’ workings or biases in the outputs. These biases arise from unclear construction and training data. Additionally, GenAI can produce inaccurate or fabricated responses (termed hallucinations). Intellectual property (IP) and copyright are complex areas, involving the content used for training AI, the generated content, and AI-generated summaries of copyrighted content. Many AI tools train on copyrighted works without explicit permission, leading to legal disputes about AI creating unauthorized derivatives. In the U.S., AI-generated content is not considered human-made and isn’t copyrightable, while Canada’s stance is still forming but is likely to align with the U.S. due to shared agreements. Using AI to summarize copyrighted work generally isn’t seen as a copyright violation. Lastly, the environmental sustainability of generative AI is questionable due to its significant electricity consumption (BCcampus).

Supporting Students to Choose Wisely

Faculty can support students by emphasizing the ethical use of GenAI at every opportunity. The decision tree below serves as a tool for ethical consideration, highlighting the need to avoid using AI in subjects beyond one’s expertise, to take responsibility for AI-generated content, and to thoroughly review outputs for accuracy, appropriateness, and absence of bias.

Is it safe to use ChatGPT (decision tree description)?

  1. Does it matter if the output is true?
    1. No. It is safe to use ChatGPT.
    2. Yes. Continue to the next question.
  2. Do you have the expertise to verify that the output is accurate?
    1. No. It is unsafe to use ChatGPT.
    2. Yes. Continue to the next question.
  3. Are you willing to take full responsibility for missed inaccuracies?
    1. No. It is unsafe to use ChatGPT.
    2. Yes. It’s possible to use ChatGPT, but be sure to verify each output word and sentence for accuracy and common sense.

Is it safe to use ChatGPT?

(BCcampus, 2021)

Best Practices for Faculty

VIU’s statement on Academic Integrity and AI offers a list of best practices. Below are a few highlights, along with linked resources, to assist faculty in implementing the recommendations.

Educate students on Academic Integrity

Educate students on academic integrity, specifically on Policy 96.01. Consider orientation sessions, class discussions, and the broader support available through support services like the VIU’s Writing Centre. For example lesson plans refer to Academic Integrity Lessons: Practical Ideas for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.

Clarify Expectations

It is crucial to be clear and specific with students about whether using digital tools is acceptable while still accomplishing the established learning goals. For an example of how you might clarify what digital tools are permitted or not permitted in your classroom, see What Does AI Mean in Your Classroom.

Make Digital Literacy Outcomes Explicit

Consider where GenAI might support learning and where is distracts from it. Consider how you can incorporate digital literacy skills into the learning outcomes for the course to deliberately address these skills in the context of your content. You might begin by drawing from B.C.’s Post-Secondary Digital Literacy Framework. Also see Learning Outcomes and Generative AI and Assessment.

Guide Students on Privacy and Data Security

Educate students on the privacy and data security implications of using GenAI tools so that they can use them safely. More information on privacy is available through the Privacy Office, and data security is available through Secure I.T.

Please note that students cannot be required to register for tools that fall outside the VIU’s software suite. When presenting students with a third-party tool (including GenAI tools), instructors must disclose what the tool is, why it is being used, what data will be collected through its use, how this data will be utilized, and how students can opt out of data collection. Equivalent alternative assignments must be provided for students who choose to opt out of using third-party tools. If students cannot opt out of using the tool without penalty (e.g., if the activity is graded, or if no alternative is available), then a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is required.

Want to Learn More?

Check out these Additional Resources

Academic Integrity and Generative Artificial Intelligence: Context, Considerations, Emerging Best Practices. Statement on Generative Artificial Intelligence from The Office of the President at VIU.

10-minute chats on Generative AI. This is a series of short video conversations with guests with different kinds of expertise in generative AI and education.

Academic Integrity Lessons: Practical Ideas for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. This is an open educational resource published by the University of Calgary that offers lesson plans related to academic integrity.

Promoting Academic Integrity in the Classroom. This concise guide provides strategies to prevent misconduct from the student’s perspective.


BCcampus OER Production Team. 2021. Getting started: OER Publishing at bccampus . BCcampus.

Digital Learning Strategy. 2021. B.C.’s Post-Secondary Digital Learning Strategy. Digital Learning Strategy – Province of British Columbia (

Luckin, R., Cukurova, M., Kent, C., & du Boulay, B. (2022). Empowering educators to be AI-ready. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 3, 100076.