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Prepare Students for a World with ChatGPT: Evolving the 21st Century Skills

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

As we move deeper into the 21st century, the 4Cs (creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration) have become increasingly essential for success in the modern workforce. However, with the continuous development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology such as ChatGPT, it has become clear that these skills must evolve to prepare students for a future that involves working with AI systems. While AI can provide a wealth of information and assist with various tasks, it is not yet a substitute for human skills and knowledge. To ensure that students are prepared for the opportunities and challenges that come with AI, what changes are necessary for the 4Cs and what additional skills must students develop?

Evolving the 4Cs with ChatGPT

1. Critical thinking

While AI can process vast amounts of information quickly, it may not be able to analyze it in the same way that humans can. It is essential for educators to teach students how to ask thoughtful questions, identify biases, and analyze information in a way that AI cannot. For instance, students can be given a project where they must analyze a complex problem such as climate change. They can use ChatGPT to gather data and insights, but they must apply critical thinking to evaluate the data and draw conclusions based on the evidence. This way, students can develop the ability to analyze complex information and make informed decisions.

2. Creativity

In a world where AI can generate ideas and suggestions, students must learn to develop these AI-generated ideas into creative and innovative solutions. This involves challenging students to take an AI-generated idea and develop it further, making it unique and personalized to their own circumstances. For example, students could be challenged to come up with solutions to their own problems, such as finding ways to exercise more regularly. While ChatGPT could provide ideas such as setting achievable goals or finding an enjoyable exercise, students must be able to take these ideas and develop them in a way that is feasible and effective for their own situation. This requires students to sharpen their creativity and come up with new, innovative approaches to problem-solving that go beyond what AI can offer.

3. Communication

In addition to effective communication with humans, students must learn how to communicate with ChatGPT in a way that maximizes its potential. This includes asking ChatGPT the right questions to get the most helpful responses, providing context and feedback to help ChatGPT improve, and evaluating the quality and accuracy of the information provided. For practice, students can be given exercises that involve interacting with ChatGPT to develop their communication skills, such as asking it to summarize complex concepts, explain difficult topics, or provide feedback on their writing.

These skills will not only help students become more effective communicators with AI systems but also with other humans in their personal and professional lives.

4. Collaboration

While ChatGPT can provide information and assistance, it may not be able to promote collaboration and teamwork in the same way that humans can. However, with the increasing use of online collaboration tools and communication platforms, students must learn how to work with ChatGPT as a member of their team. For example, they can use ChatGPT as an “assistant” to help them research and develop their ideas, and then collaborate with their peers to refine and implement their plans. Working with ChatGPT and each other, students can to enhance their collaboration and achieve their goals.

Other core skills for the world with ChatGPT?

5. Emotional Intelligence

This is an essential skill that goes beyond just managing one's own emotions. Students must also learn how to empathize and understand the emotional states of others, including AI systems like ChatGPT. Since AI lacks emotions, students can be taught how to build healthy and meaningful relationships with AI, such as by acknowledging its limitations and appreciating the unique ways in which it can contribute to their learning and work. By fostering emotional intelligence, students can develop a more respectful approach to working with AI.

6. Adaptability

With the rapid pace of AI technology evolution, students will need to learn how to stay up to date with new developments and be adaptable in their approach to learning and problem-solving. Educators can help students develop a growth mindset, emphasizing adaptability, flexibility, and continuous learning. To do this, students can be given projects where they must use emerging technologies like ChatGPT to solve complex problems. With a growth mindset and the ability to learn and apply new technology effectively, students can become more adaptable and prepared for the changing demands of the modern workforce.

7. Digital Literacy

With the increasing prevalence of AI in various industries, it has become essential for students to learn how to interact with and use technology effectively. This includes knowing how to use various AI tools and software and how to integrate them into their work. Students should be given hands-on projects where they can apply AI tools to generate data or solve problems. For instance, students can be assigned a project where they must use ChatGPT to generate possible solutions. They can also be taught how to critically evaluate the quality of the AI-generated results and interpret them in their own context. Equipped with digital literacy, students can use AI tools effectively and efficiently.

8. Ethics and Responsibility

As AI technology becomes more advanced and influential in society, it is critical that students understand the ethical and social implications of working with AI. Educators can teach students about responsible AI use, including topics like privacy, security, and fairness, as well as potential biases in the data that ChatGPT may use to generate responses. For instance, students can be given ethical issues related to AI and asked to debate their solutions, taking into consideration the potential impact on individuals and society as a whole. This ethical awareness and responsibility can help students ensure that they use ChatGPT and other AI tools in a responsible and respectful manner.

As AI technology continues to advance and become more integrated into our lives, it is crucial for students to develop a range of skills that prepare them for working alongside AI systems like ChatGPT. While the 4Cs will remain essential skills for success, they must also evolve to incorporate new ways of thinking and interacting with AI. Additionally, students must develop other necessary skills such as adaptability, emotional intelligence, digital literacy, and a sense of ethics and responsibility to ensure they can work effectively with AI while still maintaining their humanity.

As the famous computer scientist Alan Kay once said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Preparing students to work alongside AI, we are helping to invent a future in which these systems can be used to their full potential to benefit society.

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