Exploring the Impact of Chatbot Hype on Teens’ Push for A.I. Literacy

Last year, teenagers were puzzled over A.I. chatbots. Teachers urged students not to cheat using bots like ChatGPT. Meanwhile, tech moguls saw A.I. as a force for change or as a threat to humanity. As a result, school districts banned the bots without a balanced approach to A.I. learning.

Some teenagers, like Isabella Iturrate, wanted schools to provide realistic A.I. learning experiences. While schools start to consider A.I. education, tech giants are pushing schools to teach A.I. job skills while nonprofit groups want students to scrutinize new tech. Public schools rarely let students alter curriculums. The student A.I. education campaign at River Dell High in Oradell, N.J., is different.

The school’s Human Rights Club initiated an A.I. chatbot survey last spring. More than half of the school’s 1,000 students completed the anonymous questionnaire. Surprisingly, only 18 reported using ChatGPT for cheating. Yet, the majority said teachers only discussed the negative aspects of A.I. chatbots. These students also wanted their school to provide clear guidelines on using A.I. tech and teach them how to use chatbots for academic purposes.

The survey leaders also believe schools should instruct students about A.I.-related biases and harms. The club leaders presented the survey results to teachers, showing interest in broadening A.I. learning opportunities.

River Dell High’s principal, Brian Pepe, supports the students’ findings. He anticipates adding A.I. courses to the curriculum and is open to creating an informal “A.I. Lab” for experimentation with A.I. tools. Ultimately, students like Naomi Roth feel that kids should be allowed to critique, assess, and use A.I. without being caught in a game of weighing the positives and negatives.

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