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Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

I recently embarked upon the task of developing a unit plan for teaching digital citizenship in the age of AI.

Let me start by saying that teaching digital citizenship is no easy feat. We all know that wrangling a bunch of tech-savvy youngsters can sometimes feel like herding cats on roller skates. But in this new age of artificial intelligence, it seems more critical than ever to ensure our students know how to responsibility use these tools.

So, picture this: a classroom buzzing with excitement as we dive headfirst into a unit plan that tackles the three keys to the digital world—bias, privacy, and misinformation. We kick off with a lesson on AI chatbot bias. Now, I must confess, I was a little skeptical at first. I mean, can AI really be biased? Turns out, not only can it be biased, it is often displaying bias. My students were as shocked as I was when they discovered the biases lurking behind those seemingly innocent chatbots and image tools. Together, we unraveled the complexities and implications of biased AI, including gender bias, racial and cultural bias, and biased stereotypes, and let me tell you, minds were blown! See below the image generated for the prompt: "people at work."

At first it might not seem like anything is a miss, but then we began to ask questions like, "what type of work is being represented? "What type of work isn't?" "Who is being represented here?" and "who isn't" The AI biases started to become clear.

Next up, we dove into the treacherous waters of privacy threats. We brainstormed like there was no tomorrow, unleashing our inner conspiracy theorists and imagining all the privacy risks lurking in the shadows. The energy in the room was contagious as students were given a AI privacy scenario regarding the use of facial recognition software in law enforcement and debated the legal and ethical aspects of privacy. I couldn't help but smile as I watched them passionately defend their stances, some of them even channeling their inner lawyers. These future privacy advocates are ready to take on the world.

But the adventure didn't end there. We embarked on a quest to combat misinformation. Armed with fact-checking swords and critical thinking shields, my students battled the deceptive forces of AI generated fake news. We engaged in interactive activities that put their research skills to the test, separating fact from fiction with a fearless determination. And oh boy, did they rise to the challenge! Witnessing their growth as responsible truth-seekers was a sight to behold.

Now, here comes the fun part. The pièce de résistance. The icing on the digital citizenship cake. The project-based assessments! We unleashed the creative beasts within our students and gave them the freedom to choose their medium. Blogs, podcasts, videos, models, and even creative writing—these kids left no stone unturned in showcasing their understanding of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen in the age of AI.

Throughout this wild ride, I couldn't help but reflect on the importance of our role as educators. We are not just teachers; we are guides, mentors, and, dare I say, digital superheroes ourselves. In a world where technology is evolving faster than I could have ever imagined, we have the power to shape the digital citizens of tomorrow. We equip them with the knowledge, skills, and ethical compass to navigate the ever-changing digital landscape.

I invite you to join me on this exhilarating journey of teaching digital citizenship in the age of AI. Unleash your inner superhero and empower your students to become the digital change-makers of tomorrow. Embrace the chaos, celebrate the "aha" moments, and remember to laugh along the way. Together, we can shape a future of responsible digital citizenship.

Individual lessons as well as the entire unit bundle are available (discounted) on my website or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Unit Plan Overview:

Part 1: Bias

Lesson 1: Introduction to AI Chatbot Bias

Lesson 2: Data Analysis Activities

Part 2: Privacy

Lesson 1: Privacy Threats Brainstorming

Lesson 2: Legal and Ethical Debate

Lesson 3: Privacy Best Practices Poster

Part 3: Misinformation

Lesson 1: Interactive Fact-Checking Activity

Lesson 2: Misinformation Simulation

Lesson 3: Ethical Design Guidelines


Formative Assessment: Throughout the unit, assess student progress and understanding with formative assessments such as gamified quizzes, group discussions, and reflection activities. These assessments provide valuable feedback to guide instruction and reinforce learning.

Summative Assessment: Culminate the unit with a comprehensive summative assessment that showcases students' understanding and critical thinking skills. Students can choose from a range of project-based options, including creating blog series, producing podcasts, designing models, crafting creative writing pieces, and more. These assessments allow students to apply their knowledge and demonstrate their digital citizenship skills.

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