Teachers are starting to apply a critical lens to technologies like ChatGPT, which Will talked about. Emily Donahoe, a writing instructor and instructional developer at the University of Mississippi, explains that ChatGPT helps teachers avoid focusing too much on the end result. Getting a class to engage with AI and think critically about what it generates can make the lesson feel more human, “rather than asking students to write and act like robots,” she says.
And because the AI model is trained on North American data and reflects North American bias, teachers are finding it’s a great way to start conversations about bias.
David Smith, a professor of bioscience education at Sheffield Hallam University in England, allows his undergraduate students to use ChatGPT during their writing assignments, but he also grades the essays himself. “It’s important to know the words you use in a question and understand the results that come back,” he says. “We have to teach them how to do it.”
One of the biggest flaws of AI language models is that they make things up and confidently present falsehoods as fact. This accuracy makes them unsuited for extremely important tasks such as scientific research and healthcare. But Helen Crompton, an associate professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, finds the AI model “illusion” to be a valuable teaching tool.
“It’s great that it’s not perfect,” Crompton said. It’s an opportunity to have a productive conversation about misinformation and bias.
Examples like these give me hope that education systems and policy makers will understand how important it is to teach critical thinking skills around AI to the next generation.
For adults, one promising AI literacy initiative is an online course called Elements of AI developed by startup MinnaLearn and the University of Helsinki. It was launched in 2018 and is now available in 28 languages. Elements teaches what AI is and more importantly what it can and cannot do. I’ve tried it myself, and it’s a great resource.
My biggest concern is being able to speed up the adults fast enough. Without AI literacy among the internet-surfing adult population, more and more people will fall prey to unrealistic expectations and expectations. Meanwhile, AI chatbots can be weaponized as powerful phishing, fraud and disinformation tools.