AI for the Workforce of Tomorrow: Attending to Ethics and Collaboration in Learning Artificial Intelligence for High School Aged Youth
As AI becomes increasingly integral to a broad range of industries, it is critical that the field develops equitable and justice-oriented instructional models that can support youth to integrate technical knowledge about AI with ethical principles for AI development and deployment. This project will design and study an online course for high school aged youth that is a collaborative learning experience for building workforce skills. The project will strengthen and broaden youth capacity for, and disposition toward, artificial intelligence (AI) domains and careers. Learning activities will provide youth with opportunities to develop AI systems grounded in real-world contexts that are relevant to this age group including college applications, health care, and social media, enabling them to draw on their own personal and cultural knowledge. Through its implementation, the project will address three important national needs: (1) increasing and expanding AI workforce capacity; (2) attending to the social and ethical concerns associated with AI; and (3) broadening participation in AI understanding to bring a greater diversity of lived experiences to the AI workforce and greater STEM field. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers.
Using surveys, observations, and interviews within a design-based research approach, the researchers will address the following research questions: (1) How can instruction be designed to integrate AI technical knowledge with AI ethics principles in an online learning experience that also encourages and supports positive social interaction and collaboration among participants? How do specific design features and pedagogical strategies contribute to a coherent approach? (2) To what extent, for whom, and under what conditions does this AI instructional model support: (a) AI technical learning; (b) capacity to integrate ethics in AI development; and (c) dispositional changes (sense of belonging in AI; value assigned to STEM ethics integration)? (3) What infrastructure is necessary to support this work beyond the life of the grant; and how can this program be institutionalized? This project will advance knowledge toward building a more inclusive approach to integrating ethical principles within technical training. This will increase the likelihood that the future workforce will be attentive to ethical concerns and better reflect the views and backgrounds of the populations that the technology is supposed to serve. Through the intentional design for productive online collaboration, the project will contribute to improved learning outcomes in online spaces. Project deliverables include an online course with educator supports and custom-designed digital tools, empirical findings and presentations for research and practitioner communities, and design principles for online, collaborative, sociotechnical learning environments. The AI course will be offered to six cohorts of 20 students each. Participants will be recruited from high schools in the western United States that receive Title I funding. The resulting course resource will be designed for sustainable implementation and positioned for implementation at scale across similar institutions nationally.