Empowering youth to create learning materials using AI tools

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Participants of the hackathon during one of the activities in a session on inlusion Participants of the hackathon during one of the activities in a session on inlusion. Copyright: Qüid Lab

Artificial intelligence is often seen as a tool for the future, but at a hackathon in Cali, Colombia this past April, 30 youth from different parts of the country proved that the future is already here.

The emergence of AI has been a hot topic for some time, with many discussions focused on its impact on the workforce and its potential to disrupt various industries. The hackathon, however, posed the question: how can AI empower the next generation of learners to create educational content to address climate change?

The hackathon brought together a diverse group of young people aged 15 to 25 from across Colombia to work in eight teams, each tasked with developing original educational content on climate change using AI tools such as Dalle, Stable Diffusion, Lexica, Bing creator and ChatGPT. It also brought together 15 foundations, private sector companies, and NGOs to discuss the formation of an education innovation ecosystem. The hackathon highlighted four important lessons for using AI to empower students to create their own educational content:

1. Include youth in discussions that affect young people

One of the main takeaways from the event was the importance of including youth in discussions about innovations that impact youth. The presence of the young participants changed the tenor and tone of the conversations, ensuring that the decisions made kept youth at the center of the discussion.

2. Inclusive design

Beginning the design process with considerations of how technology can be utilized for all will lead to initiatives that are more equitable and adaptable to specific contexts, and thereby sustainable at scale. Fundación Saldarriaga Concha, one of the members of the innovation ecosystem and an organization that focuses on disabilities and inclusion, brought youth with both physical and learning disabilities to the hackathon and led a session focused on the universal design of learning materials. In the exercise, youth considered how to design for those with disabilities, highlighting the importance of inclusion from the beginning of the content creation process. This focus on inclusion was critical in building understanding and empathy, as well as ensuring that the content created was inclusive by design.

Participants of the hackathon during one of the activities in a session on inlusion.
Participants of the hackathon during one of the activities in a session on inlusion. Copyright: Qüid Lab

3. Democratize educational content and empower students with AI

The hackathon showcased the incredible potential to use AI to democratize the creation of educational content and empower students to create their own learning materials on climate change. Climate change education is critical for the next generation to not just learn about the challenge, but also to also take action and make a positive impact on their communities and the planet. Participating students were provided with access to AI applications and trained in how to use the tools, including prompts, ethics, and refinement of images. Students enhanced their own drawings and generated new images purely through unique prompts, demonstrating the potential of AI to transform the way educational content is created and shared.

A group of students participating in a hackathon organized in Cali, Colombia.
A group of students participating in a hackathon organized in Cali, Colombia. Copyright: Qüid Lab.

4. Address biases in AI

The hackathon also delved into the challenges related to the use of this technology in education, such as the bias in the algorithms used in AI systems, which can perpetuate existing inequalities and reinforce discriminatory practices. Despite these risks, the participants discussed how the integration of AI into education has the potential to transform the way we approach teaching and learning. As AI continues to evolve and become more accessible, educators have an opportunity to harness its power to create more personalized and engaging learning experiences for students.

Some questions that educators need to consider include:

  • How do I ensure my students are critical thinkers? While AI tools like ChatGPT sound smart, it often provides inaccurate facts. Each query needs some level of prior knowledge and fact checking.
  • How do I ensure students writing reflects their own thinking? Because writing is so integral to good thinking, AI presents the risk that students who copy generated text as a substitute for writing will diminish their thinking skills.
  • How do I support students to ask the right questions? Asking the right questions and “prompt engineering” is emerging as an important skill to generate the best information from AI through more accurate and detailed questions you feed the engine.
  • How do I augment human engagement in my classroom? Social interaction through individual and group discussion will be essential to assess student knowledge and ensure development of socio-emotional skills.

By embracing the possibilities of AI while remaining vigilant to its challenges, educators can unlock the full potential of this technology to empower the next generation of learners.


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