ChatGPT & Generative AI

Guiding Students to Develop AI Literacy

Teachers can use these resources to model responsible AI use and show students how to experiment responsibly with the technology.

May 13, 2024
Moor Studio / iStock

Educators must stay informed, current, and ahead of the game (if possible) when it comes to emerging technologies. This means fostering the development of AI literacy skills. Being AI literate means more than knowing the basics about the technology or understanding relevant terms such as machine learning and algorithms. Literacy involves knowing the uses of AI in the world and being aware of the ethical considerations involved with its use. AI literacy should focus on developing skills to critically evaluate information and content generated by AI as well as to identify misinformation. Teachers should also know how to use AI in safe, ethical, and responsible ways and model this use for students.

Getting Started Teaching AI Literacy Skills

Introducing AI concepts at an earlier age gives students the opportunity to build their knowledge and skills over time—with younger students, starting with the basics of AI, such as focusing on where we see it in daily life. Begin with key definitions, and find resources that have been vetted and are safe for student and educator use. Several organizations provide a wealth of resources for educators that include ready-to-run lessons.

Modeling AI use in the classroom: As we teach students about AI, we can engage them in activities where they evaluate images, text, or videos to decide whether they are AI-generated or real. I have used game-based learning tools, such as Quizizz AI, to quickly create a quiz to check students’ understanding of the concepts covered or Eduaide.Ai, to make a gamified activity or lesson related to AI literacy.

Student-directed exploration: Beyond some initial tools that offer options for assessing students and that help with personalized learning, it is important to make time for conversations and create opportunities for students to explore different types of AI. Whether engaging with chatbots, testing some forms of generative AI, or using other AI-powered tools, we want to help students develop their skills and be better informed in the increasingly digital and AI-powered world.

We have used a variety of resources from organizations such as MIT AI Literacy Units for K–12. Their RAISE (Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education) initiative provides resources for all grade levels that are specific to developing AI literacy skills.

All of these options provide a variety of AI-related learning experiences and resources for students. As they begin to use various tools or perhaps build their own chatbot, they will continue to build their AI literacy skills. These opportunities further enhance their understanding of how AI works, the importance of safeguarding personal information, and how to evaluate information that they receive.

Teaching about AI: Often as a start, I will show a video to spark conversation with students to provide an initial overview of what AI is and ask for their thoughts. One of the most frequent video series we use is the Crash Course AI, which provides clear and engaging videos covering the key components of AI so that students understand all of the components of AI. For younger learners, I recommend the video series “What is AI: Artificial Intelligence Facts for Kids.” The videos are great starting points for learning about AI and sparking curiosity in students.

Nearpod also provides lessons on key terms related to AI, such as algorithms and machine learning, as well as lessons that consider bias. Within these interactive Nearpod lessons, educators can add in questions focused on checking student understanding of AI literacy.

Using SchoolAI gives students the opportunity to interact with a chatbot, speak with a famous historical figure, or interact with “Sidekick,” which is an AI assistant. Whether educators select from the Spaces available or create their own chatbot specific to their students, it helps students build their content knowledge and also think about how they are interacting with AI, which helps with AI literacy.

These online resources can help educators provide robust learning experiences for students, from basic knowledge of AI to understanding AI’s design principles to recognizing AI’s potential impact on society. Beyond the tools available, educators can design activities that engage students in discussions or debates, requiring them to apply the knowledge gained and also consider different perspectives.

Example activities could involve students engaging in debates on AI ethics, creating an AI-powered product and being able to explain its purpose, participating in simulations using AI tools to solve real-world problems, or developing basic AI models to grasp the technology’s potential and limitations. Student-driven experiences like these prepare students academically but also ethically, enabling them to navigate the AI-driven future responsibly.

AI literacy is critical because it empowers students with the knowledge and skills to navigate the growing AI landscape, which will better prepare them for future careers, many of which will require AI technologies.

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