Empowering learners for the age of artificial intelligence

Last updated: 12-12-2020

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Empowering learners for the age of artificial intelligence

Research shows that even undergraduate students lack these basic skills. Some are not accurate at judging the reliability of information sources or managing the quantity of material available. This is a particularly critical skill in the time of AI where fake news is so easy to produce and spread.

Some do not have the skills to collaborate or work in teams, especially not through digital technologies. How can we then expect them to work with different types of AI? We can empower people by helping them to pick up the skills to learn independently. They should gradually start developing these skills from the early days of school with a special focus on learners aged between 12 and 15 years. Few of us can remember specific lessons received in school about how to study effectively. The reason is that most of us haven’t been taught. Students are often expected to figure out how to learn on their own. Even giving a brief lesson about effective learning techniques can significantly increase their use. Even better, we should intentionally design the curriculum that directly promotes the use of good learning techniques.

Central to this learning are digital technologies. Technology should be incorporated into teaching and learning activities. Even today we are thinking with technology in our workplaces and classrooms should reflect this. Students should be taught how to define keywords to search information on the internet.They should be aware two different people using the same keyword search on Google or other search engines will not get the same information. This is because search engines aim to find results similar to other information we have previously used. They should also be able to appraise the quality of information sources – this can be challenging as AI can blur the line between facts and falsehood, but it can also be used to recognise the difference. AI can even be used to accelerate the spread of information including mis- and dis-information. In this sense, AI is both a problem and a solution. In both cases, an informed and empoweredstudent can effectively navigate the situation.

Additionally, our classrooms should incorporate an array of AI applications in different forms. Students should experience how AI recognises human speech (as with Amazon or Siri) and the possible limitations. Learners should also engage with AI for facial recognition, learn what it can be used for and how, and assess potential threats to privacy. These are basic literacies for interacting with AI.

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