Published: Oct. 5, 2022

The Learning Futures workshops aim  to engage a diverse group of high school-aged youth to deliberate the role of AI in supporting classroom collaboration. These workshops provide an opportunity for youth to express and explore their hopes and concerns surrounding the use of AI in the classroom. The goal is to better understand youths’ dreams for the best-case scenario use of AI in classroom settings by challenging the students to expand their imaginations about the possible ways AI could support their learning. The facilitators also focus on the youths’ concerns around having an AI Partner in their classroom and ask them to think about what they wouldn’t want the Partner to be able to do. After a successful workshop in 2021, the second Learning Futures workshop took place in late Spring of 2022 and our team is using the information learned about the dreams and concerns of youth to inform the larger Institute on the role of our AI Partner in the classroom.

The second workshop was held in-person at UC Berkley and participants were fifteen high school students, all of color and all from the East Bay of California. Half were repeat participants and the other half were new, allowing our team to build on existing relationships with the students as well as develop new ones. The three day workshop focused on engaging the students to identify what expansive forms of collaboration they experience every day, to build out speculative ideal collaborative spaces, to imagine the role of AI within those collaborative spaces, and to determine what message they would want to give to their school leadership about how they would want AI to be used in their classrooms. 

Our team found that when considering how to bridge the speculative ideal collaborative spaces with classrooms, youth initially resisted bridging the gap: “The purpose of school is work and content learning, while the purpose of our imagined space was dreaming” felt the students. content learning, while the purpose of our imagined space was dreaming” felt the students. One of the activities had students visit a student cooperative house on campus where students were introduced to the concept of “Community Agreements” - agreements collectively and interactively constructed by the residents. Workshop facilitators then encouraged the youth to re-consider the goals of schools itself. The participants argued for practices and tools that supported them in their dreams for collaboration and their needs within existing school spaces, shifting the discourse from “disciplining” youth to thinking about accountability to mutually agreed upon norms. Much like cooperative community agreements, norms being supported by the AI Partner should be customized to the needs of the students and teachers involved in the collaboration. These norms (and the data necessary to make it possible) should be continually negotiated and contested.

When thinking expansively about their hopes and dreams, youth dreamed of being taken seriously when it came to institutional change they believed in.  This is important for iSAT to take into consideration. How should future AI-based projects (both within iSAT and outside of it) take on this critical dream?