💻 The Critical Need for AI Literacy
Explore nationwide initiatives to drive AI literacy in classrooms and communities
Today, we live in an age of rapid technological advancement where we are constantly surrounded by AI systems, from the recommendation algorithms underlying our social media feeds to the virtual assistants on our phones. However, few students truly understand how these systems work or are aware of important considerations surrounding them like potential biases and privacy implications. Integrating AI literacy into the educational curriculum can empower students with knowledge critical to navigating our AI-driven world as informed citizens. At which level of education should AI literacy be incorporated into the curriculum?
Here is an overview of today’s newsletter:
Press Release of the latest AI Literacy Act in Washington
Resources to help promote AI literacy within the classroom
Student perspective on interdisciplinary collaboration through AI
Global push for AI in Education within the UK and US
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🚀 Practical AI Usage and Policies
From local classrooms to the federal stage, AI literacy has become imperative, as substantive nationwide efforts have been underway to promote understanding of AI across education levels.
Recently in Washington, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-Ind..) introduced the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Literacy Act on December 15th. This bipartisan bill would “codify AI literacy as a key component of digital literacy and create opportunities to incorporate AI literacy into existing programs. Bruce Andrews, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Intel Corporation, states, “The Artificial Intelligence Literacy Act of 2023 is an important step in expanding access to basic AI readiness for people from all backgrounds. This bill will help equip individuals with the skills, trust, and understanding of responsible usage to harness AI for good.”
As stated in the press release, below is what the AI Literacy Act would entail:
Amend the Digital Equity Act and codify AI literacy as a component of digital literacy.
Define AI literacy as the skills associated with the ability to comprehend the basic principles, concepts, and applications of artificial intelligence, as well as the implications, limitations, and ethical considerations associated with artificial intelligence.
Highlight the importance of AI literacy for national competitiveness, workforce preparedness, and the well-being and digital safety of Americans.
Ensure the eligibility of efforts to increase AI literacy in public elementary and secondary schools, in community colleges, in institutions of higher education, and by community institutions like nonprofits and libraries through the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.
For more details, check out the press release here.
AI literacy encompasses different skill sets depending on context. Dr. Kara Kennedy has developed an AI Literacy Framework that builds on UNESCO's Digital Literacy Global Framework by mapping relevant AI skills into its different literacy categories. The framework provides a useful model for understanding the multifaceted nature of AI literacy across contexts such as communication, collaboration, content creation, and more. By aligning AI skills to broader digital literacy concepts, Dr. Kennedy offers an approach that can help educate various audiences on the intersections between AI and human capacities needed to effectively participate in an increasingly technology-mediated world.
When it comes to AI literacy in the classroom, here are some helpful resources to get started:
Explaining the workings of LLMs (Large Language Models) can be intricate, but The Guardian offers an interactive resource that simplifies the functioning of LLMs like ChatGPT through a visual approach. This resource is invaluable for teaching the fundamentals of LLMs or for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the algorithm: How AI chatbots like ChatGPT or Bard work – visual explainer
For a more in-depth exploration of the mathematical aspects behind LLMs, Tim Lee and Sean Trott from Understanding AI provide a comprehensive dive into how these models operate: Large language models, explained with a minimum of math and jargon
MIT Sloan offers a resource hub of AI basics, teaching tools, and other resources for insights on AI in education: Generative AI for Teaching & Learning Resource Hub
Additionally, Code.org offers a vast library of video tutorials for educators and engaging activities for students to integrate these tools into the classroom: Code.org's AI 101
The AI Pedagogy Project, developed by Harvard's meta(LAB), offers a collection of assignments designed by educators to encourage student interaction with AI tools such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Midjourney. This platform not only provides assignments but also fosters a collaborative environment for educators to share their own assignments: AI Pedagogy Project
📣 Student Voices and Use Cases
This week, we had a chance to speak with Sophia Timm, a recent graduate from Lake Forest College with a BA in Neuroscience and BA in Philosophy. She will be an incoming Physician Assistant student at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. In the following, we present select highlights from these conversations, which have been slightly edited for enhanced clarity and precision:
Q: In what ways have your teachers integrated AI tools into the classroom, and could you offer a specific example of how you interacted with these tools?
In my senior-level neuroscience class, our professor was interested in having us learn how to use various AI tools throughout the course. I ended up using tools like Bing AI and ChatGPT for brainstorming. I would tell it, “These are the ideas I have, please help me consider how this could be more solidified.” In terms of research gathering, I’ve used it quite a bit to gather initial research sources, particularly with Bing and Claude. For instance, say I’m researching a specific neurological disorder. I would prompt, “I’m looking for papers on this disorder between the years of 2018 to 2023 research papers. Please help me find research papers within these specific parameters.” I would then use Google Scholar to check that the sources are correct and that I didn’t pull any incorrect citations. This was a super quick way for me to filter through thousands of papers on a specific topic. I also used AI tools to create powerpoint presentations. It’s really good at transforming information from a pdf into a powerpoint format. I think it takes alot less time than if you do it manually. As a whole, these AI tools served as an assistant in my classes, in information gathering, brainstorming, and in revising final projects to catch grammar or spelling errors.
Q: What does AI literacy mean to you and what steps would you propose to enhance it among students and educators?
To me, AI literacy entails competency and an informed ability of using AI – being able to employ it in whatever it is that you are doing, but also knowing exactly what it can do and what it can’t do. I think alot of people today have misconceptions about AI’s capabilities or may be scared by the idea of it. I personally think that it can be a helpful tool, as long as you know how to use it and what you can do with it. Perhaps a way we could improve AI literacy would be to integrate it more in classroom settings. Teachers will need to be AI literate to show students what they can do with it, but I think what will actually end up happening is that students will end up being the driving force behind AI literacy because we are very receptive to it in a way that some educators are not. If students become more literate, I think we are in a really cool position where we can enable our other classmates and professors on how to use it and share how we are using it.
Q: How can AI be used to foster collaboration and peer-to-peer learning among students?
Different disciplines are using AI in a variety of ways, and I think that this could foster collaboration as people across these disciplines share various ways they are using it and the tools they interact with. We can consider having seminars on campuses where students share their different approaches and use cases.
AI also helps to make information quite accessible. On ChatGPT, you could say, “Please explain this concept as if I were a fifth grader”, or with some other metaphor. This can make that difficult concept from a different discipline accessible and comprehensive, allowing for collaboration across disciplines. It effectively bridges any misunderstandings we have when we are trying to brainstorm with others by being able to understand concepts beyond our area of expertise more easily.
Q: In your opinion, what are the most exciting possibilities for AI in transforming the future of education?
I think that integration of AI in educational curriculum really optimizes our ability to do smaller tasks. This is really exciting because it enables us as students to spend more time on other things that we struggle with. What’s probably most exciting for me though is the chance for everyone to have an equitable education using AI tools like Khanmigo. A tool like Khanmigo is really expanding access to tutoring and instantaneous feedback or help for students. I think that this comes with the caveat that you have to know how to use it as a tutor rather than outputting a direct answer.
📝 Latest Research in AI + Education
The research paper "Teaching CS50 with AI: Leveraging Generative Artificial Intelligence in Computer Science Education" discusses the integration of AI-based tools into Harvard University's introductory computer science course, CS50. The initiative, implemented in the summer and fall of 2023, aimed to create a 1:1 teacher-to-student ratio by providing students with AI-assisted tools designed to guide them toward solutions. These tools were initially tested with 70 summer students and then extended to thousands of online students and several hundred on-campus students. The paper describes the use of AI to enhance learning experiences, specifically in explaining code, improving code style, and responding to curricular and administrative queries. It also addresses the challenges of academic dishonesty associated with AI tools and the strategies adopted to promote meaningful learning while maintaining academic integrity. The implementation involved a unified web application, CS50.ai, powered by GPT-4, which provided structured, accurate, and context-aware responses to student queries. Student feedback highlighted the tools' effectiveness in offering personalized assistance and enhancing the learning process. However, issues like occasional inaccuracies and the AI's overconfidence were noted. The paper concludes that the integration of AI in education, with appropriate safeguards, can significantly improve personalized teaching assistance and free up human educators for more complex tasks, potentially revolutionizing education.
Liu, R., Zenke, C., Liu, C., Holmes, A., Thornton, P., & Malan, D. J. (2024). Teaching CS50 with AI: Leveraging Generative Artificial Intelligence in Computer Science Education. In Proceedings of the 55th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education V. 1 (SIGCSE 2024), March 20–23, 2024, Portland, OR, USA (pp. 7). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3626252.3630938
UK Department of Education
The UK Department for Education's first Call for Evidence on Artificial Intelligence in Education, based on over 500 responses, highlights a growing embrace of AI in the education sector by professionals, technologists, and experts. The findings reveal widespread recognition of AI's benefits, with current applications including streamlining administrative tasks, creating tailored resources, and offering personalized support for students with special educational needs and disabilities. Additional opportunities noted are the enhancement of interactive lessons and support for learners with English as an additional language. Participants in this initiative range from educators at various levels to research bodies like The Alan Turing Institute and Jisc. The report will guide future AI policy in education, with the government already investing in AI-driven educational tools and hosting collaborative events like hackathons to explore AI's potential.
The government's investment in technology infrastructure and a focus on AI safety, regulation, and workforce skill development further underscore its commitment to leveraging AI in education. This is part of a broader effort, including trying out AI for civil service support and planning to publish hackathon results, to explore safe and effective AI integration in the education sector.
Department for Education; The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP. (2023). New research paves way for Artificial Intelligence in education. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-research-paves-way-for-artificial-intelligence-in-education
📰 In the News
The White House
The Biden-Harris Administration hosted an event on December 5, focusing on inclusive AI education in computer science, attended by teachers, advocates, officials, and education leaders. The event emphasized the need for inclusive teaching in AI and computer science.
Co-hosted by the National Economic Council and U.S. National Science Foundation, with participation from various government offices, the event highlighted the importance of AI and computer science education in preparing America's future workforce.
Panel discussions featured teachers, educators, and researchers sharing experiences and efforts to make AI education inclusive. Topics included foundational computer science education, connecting AI to social issues, and expanding opportunities for more students.
Several organizations, including NSF, CSTA, and major tech companies, announced commitments to support AI education. Initiatives ranged from developing new K-12 AI curricula to incorporating AI into AP computer science courses, and expanding cybersecurity education platforms in rural schools.
The New York Times
Students at River Dell High School in New Jersey are advocating for a more nuanced approach to AI education, moving beyond the extremes of AI as either a technological marvel or a doomsday threat. They seek AI discussions and learning experiences that are more grounded in current realities rather than science fiction.
The initiative was led by the school's Human Rights Club, which conducted a survey revealing that while only a small number of students used AI for plagiarism, most students were interested in AI and desired clear guidelines and education on using AI tools effectively and ethically.
The students discovered positive applications of AI, such as predicting rogue waves or protein folds, and expressed concern that their education was being limited to AI's potential for cheating. They also believe that schools should educate students about the potential harms of AI, including perpetuating biases.
The school principal, Brian Pepe, is supportive of this initiative and has proposed the idea of an "AI Lab" during lunch periods for students and teachers to experiment with AI tools. The school is considering incorporating AI into its curriculum, reflecting a growing interest in AI education in schools nationwide.
“Chatgpt.” ChatGPT, OpenAI (GPT-4), openai.com/chatgpt. Accessed 21 Dec. 2023.
And that’s a wrap for this week’s newsletter! Based on the results from our previous newsletter poll, there was an even spread of educators in terms of their frequency in allowing students to use Generative AI tools during assessments.
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