NewTechKids ended up making some important last-minute changes to our digital literacy programs for primary school students at Wereldwijs Primary School in Amsterdam Southeast. Why? The explosion of generative AI.
In their article “Teaching Digital Literacy is a 21st Century Imperative & This is Why”, Miah Daughtery and Laura B. Hansen write “In classrooms, digital literacy enables students to access information in new ways and then communicate what has been learned with others, giving students a more prominent voice in the world around them. First, though, students need to be taught how to use the various technologies to benefit fully from available digital tools.”
Around the time of planning our digital literacy curriculum, we began hearing buzz around AI art generators and AI chatbot tools like ChatGPT and this only grew as we began teaching. Then came a lot of blowback from educators who are opposed to allowing kids to use AI tools in school.
In the end, we decided to teach our students about these tools, including ethical considerations, ownership and rights, the danger of bias, how they work, how to use them correctly and how to attribute sources properly. These tools are not going away anytime soon. In fact, they will only grow in popularity and spread to all domains. Students who do not know about them and how they work will have a distinct disadvantage in terms of digital knowledge and skills.
We taught several classes on AI and gave our students the choice of whether or not to use AI tools to develop their capstone presentation.
After we finished the last lesson in the program, we asked students what topics have stuck out for them. We were so happy when the majority of them said that it was the AI lessons and the ethical considerations that they remembered the most.