AI literacy might be ChatGPT’s biggest lesson for schools


The teachers Will spoke to had already started applying a critical lens to technologies such as ChatGPT. Emily Donahoe, a writing tutor and educational developer at the University of Mississippi, said she thinks that ChatGPT could help teachers shift awayfin from an excessive focus . Getting a class to engage with AI and think critically about what it generates could make teaching feel more human, she says, “rather than asking students to write and perform like robots.”

And because the AI ​​model has been trained with North American data and reflects North American biases, teachers are finding that it is a great way to start a conversation about bias.

David Smith, a professor of bioscience education at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, allows his undergraduate students to use ChatGPT in their written assignments, but he will assess the prompt as well as—or even rather than—the essay itself. “Knowing the words to use in a prompt and then understanding the output that comes back is important,” he says. “We need to teach how to do that.”

One of the biggest flaws of AI language models is that they make stuff up and confidently present falsehoods as facts. This makes them unsuitable for tasks where accuracy is extremely important, such as scientific research and health care. But Helen Crompton, an associate professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has found the AI’s model’s “hallucinations” a useful teaching tool too.

“The fact that it’s not perfect is great,” Crompton says. It’s an opportunity for productive discussions about misinformation and bias.

These kinds of examples give me hope that education systems and policymakers will realize just how important it is to teach the next generation critical thinking skills around AI.

For adults, one promising AI literacy initiative is a free online course called Elements of AIwhich is developed by startup MinnaLearn and the University of Helsinki. It was launched in 2018 and is now available in 28 languages. Elements of AI teaches people what AI is and, most important, what it can and can’t do. I’ ve tried it myself, and it’s a great resource.

My bigger concern is whether we will be able to get adults up to speed quickly enough. Without AI literacy among the internet-surfing adult population, more and more people are bound to fall prey to unrealistic expectations and hype. Meanwhile, AI chatbots could be weaponized as powerful phishing, scamming, and misinformation tools.


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