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AI in the Classroom: Fostering Critical Thinking and Responsible Use

EDUCATIONAI in the Classroom: Fostering Critical Thinking and Responsible Use

With the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence, there are also more issues and doubts arising, such as misinformation on social media, the creation of fake news or data protection. This is especially relevant for young people, who are the most active online. Experts suggest that broad education is needed to make the younger generation aware of the benefits and risks associated with this technology and how artificial intelligence affects our lives and decisions. This is a significant task for teachers and those who work with children and young people. The e-learning course #BurzaMózgów, organized by the Orange Foundation, aims to educate them in the field of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic over the past year, mainly due to ChatGPT – a tool developed by the research laboratory OpenAI, which is hailed as a milestone in the development of this technology. A few months ago, its improved successor, ChatGPT4, appeared, which the majority of previous users unanimously call a revolution equivalent to the invention of the internet or the steam engine.

“ChatGPT can be described as the first superstar in the field of artificial intelligence,”

says Maciej Wojnicki, co-creator of the #BurzaMózgów program at LOFI Robot.

“Before, it was a sealed-off technology; we all heard about it, knew it existed, but if you asked the average person whether they use artificial intelligence on a daily basis, they would probably say no. However, in the past year, practically overnight, a revolution has occurred that allows us to tangibly interact with this technology of the future. Computers suddenly learned how to talk and any person – without technical skills or experience – can start conversing with them like a colleague who can execute commands on their behalf. This colleague also holds a doctorate in every field and can do various things. It’s easy to point out that this tool is still imperfect, often makes mistakes and doesn’t understand everything, but the aspect of understanding human language is a clear breakthrough.”

AI algorithms also have increasingly wider applications in everyday life. Poles are nevertheless aware that this is a technology of the future. According to a survey by NASK (“AI in Society and the Economy. Report from Social Research”), only 4% of Poles have not yet come into contact with the concept of artificial intelligence. On the other hand, more than half believe that AI already influences their daily life in areas such as information gathering, entertainment, education, shopping, or transportation.

“Artificial intelligence is already commonly used today in the service sector, especially on streaming platforms, which – based on our previous preferences – suggest movies or music that are worth listening to. AI is also used in social media where we receive content that we may like, according to our previously declared interests. However, we often don’t realize that artificial intelligence can influence us and our choices,”
says Małgorzata Kowalewska, Program Board Member of the Orange Foundation.

This is particularly significant in the context of young users.

“Students are proficient in digital devices, yet they often don’t understand how the mechanisms of artificial intelligence or the phenomenon itself can influence their decisions and choices, so they need an adult to explain this digital world to them. These adults are teachers who play the role of guides and help young people understand the world around them,”

the expert emphasizes.

“For teachers, chatbots and other AI algorithms are very practical tools that can show students how technology is changing various aspects of our lives. Soon, we won’t need to visit a primary care physician, instead, we will be able to chat with a chatbot, we won’t need legal services, at any moment we will be able to generate documents for ourselves. The way this technology will transform our lives in the future is a huge mystery, but also a fascinating story that can be discussed with students,”

according to Maciej Wojnicki, co-creator of the #BurzaMózgów program.

With the growing popularity of AI algorithms and tools, doubts also arise related to the creation of fake news, the threat of misinformation, copyright infringement or dishonest data acquisition for training language models. Therefore – as experts point out – broad education is needed on this topic to make the younger generation aware of the benefits and risks associated with this technology and to show them what decisions they can make as social media users care about the content they see, or their privacy protection. The online course for teachers #BurzaMózgów, initiated by the Orange Foundation, aims to address this.

#BurzaMózgów is a course for teachers and people working with young people, which explains how artificial intelligence works in a simple and accessible way and explains the phenomena associated with it. It shows AI from a social and ethical side, also teaching a critical approach to this technology. After the course, teachers will be able to help young people understand that, for example, what they see on social media is not accidental, and AI algorithms can affect their mood and decisions.

“#BurzaMózgów is a program that does not require technical skills. It is not a programming course. However, we explain the phenomenon of artificial intelligence from a social and ethical perspective. We have prepared materials that can be successfully used to work with children and young people,”

says Małgorzata Kowalewska.
“#BurzaMózgów aims to familiarize teachers with the topic of artificial intelligence. We are focusing here especially on primary school teachers, but also all other people working with young people aged approximately 10-15 years. We try to approach the topic of artificial intelligence a little differently – we do not focus on technical skills, learning programming sensu stricto and such issues, because they are quickly becoming outdated and are constantly changing dynamically. Therefore, we rather try to talk about this phenomenon in a slightly more general way and explain how this technology affects us and our lives,”

adds Maciej Wojnicki.
“We don’t want to focus on the tools, but on how our world might change through this technology, how it might evolve, how it affects us, whether it is dangerous and harmful, or on the contrary, possibly brings us great benefits. We want to show what threats and possibilities access to these modern, futuristic technological tools creates for us.”

The sign-up for the second edition of #BurzaMózgów course will continue until February 16. The course is free of charge and has a flexible and accessible formula – topics are explained in simple language in short films, grouped into 12 thematic blocks. It takes place online, which allows for the completion of the next steps at a convenient time and place.

“When creating #BurzaMózgów, we tried to prepare a very pragmatic and accessible tool for teachers to somehow bring this story about artificial intelligence to schools,”

says a LOFI Robot expert.
“The course consists of a number of online materials that can be shown directly to students in class, and practical exercises that can be realized with them, as well as a series of webinars during the school year, enabling teachers to gradually get into the subject matter and learn where and how they can use this artificial intelligence in school.”

To participate in #BurzaMózgów, you don’t need technological skills. The course can be completed by teachers of all subjects, primary schools, especially grades 4-8, and those who incorporate discussions about online safety and digital hygiene into their lessons with young people. Those who complete the training cycle will receive a certificate from the Non-Public Teachers’ Training Center Zyta Czechowska

Alongside registrations for the project, an educational campaign by the Orange Foundation and LOFI Robot called “It is not a coincedence that…” has also been launched, which draws attention to how artificial intelligence is present in many aspects of everyday life. By showing specific examples of its application, the campaign encourages expanding knowledge and thinking about our relationship with technologies.

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