Getting Students Ready For An AI World Through College, Career, and Life Readiness

March 18, 2024

In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

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In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

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In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

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In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.

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In just the past several years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from being a plot line in science fiction novels and movies to being a tool available for everyday use in business, entertainment, and academic interactions. Chatbots like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Microsoft’s Copilot are now commonplace in a variety of spheres. Phone apps and websites for grocery delivery sites, graphic design platforms, and customer service exchanges now include embedded AI options to generate shopping lists, wordsmith slogans, or help set up an Amazon return. 

And both the integration of AI into our lives and AI capabilities are rapidly maturing by the day. Early responses questioning whether we should allow AI in our lives have quickly pivoted to how AI can and will be used going forward. The reality is that our current students will graduate high school and college into a world where AI is a normal part of doing business, scheduling meetings, collaborating with others, efficiently generating ideas, and so much more. A common phrase summarizing this future is “AI will not replace you in your job, but a person fluent in using AI will.”

With this backdrop, understanding and using AI is quickly becoming a differentiator in many fields and professions. Because of this, it is critical that college, career, and life (CCLR) programs embrace this future and include preparation and training for students on effectively and appropriately using AI tools and resources. And like all newly introduced transformative technologies, AI will change the way communications occur, knowledge is pursued, and jobs are performed. 

AI Skills Students Need to Develop to Be College, Career, and Life Ready

There are different types of AI that are being integrated into society. For students, focusing on generative AI–the ability of a processing machine to generate content and converse in human languages–is the most appropriate for CCLR readiness. Here are some key concepts students need to develop, skills they need to learn, and questions they need to consider as AI is embedded into their learning: 

  1. How to ask a good question or query, and then follow-up: Anyone who has used a Chatbot for even amusement purposes can attest to the fact that the response generated is only as good as the initial question or query input to the system. Students need to learn and practice how to ask a question, called a prompt in AI parlance, that will result in a higher-quality answer and how to follow up for additional refinement. Learning to be specific about both the information being sought, as well as the format one is seeking and the audience for the messaging, is crucial to getting the most out of a Chatbot. Providing clarifications, corrections, and emphasis to the AI in response to the original AI output from the user’s prompt is what makes AI conversational by design. Students should be able to engage with the system to craft the content and format they desire through a back-and-forth with the system. Doing this well is both informed by logic and creativity, and these skills are best learned through experience. 
  1. Brainstorming to solve problems or generate ideas: It can be useful to consider an available generative AI to be like a thought partner who is very knowledgeable about some things–but not all things. Students can engage in activities that are typical of small group discussions with an AI, or a small group can add the AI as another team member. This is particularly useful for students who have a hard time coming up with an initial idea or perspective and are better at responding than at initiating. A prompt in the form of the question or project confronting the student will result in a response of suggestions. This can lead to accelerated iterations of ideas, mitigate procrastination, and provide a thought collaborator in working through a problem.
  1. Fact-checking AI: It is critical to understand the limitations of AI in addition to recognizing the strengths. Chatbots are not all-knowing; they are only as good as the information they have access to and the model processing the query. The AI systems and platforms that are publicly available are not the most comprehensive nor do they draw from the strongest computing power. With this in mind, it is essential to verify and check any fact-based information given as part of a response. Students need to learn to always question this information and must practice ways to verify it with reputable and reliable sources. A good AI will provide sources, often in the form of footnotes, indicating the sources drawn on to produce the response. Students should verify that the citations are appropriate, authoritative, and trustworthy sources. Being able to conduct that kind of fact-checking is an important skill in all areas of life, and cultivating these skills is now becoming necessary for every school’s CCLR program.
  1. Understanding when not to use AI: As with any tool, AI is not an appropriate tool for all situations; and it should be utilized in different ways in different fields. Students should be expected to undertake some work without AI assistance, some work with the requirement of AI utilization, and then be asked to reflect on the benefits, frustrations, and experience of using AI. When used well, AI can dramatically increase efficiency; when used poorly, it takes too much time to produce a mediocre product of much effort. Developing proficiency in utilizing AI will require students to understand when it is appropriate to deploy, how to formulate a good prompt, and to recognize a well-crafted finished product. These are skills already used in written expression, debate, and other forms of communication. Finally, CCLR now requires that students learn how to learn new technologies as they emerge. 
  1. Thinking about important ethical considerations and implications: As citizens in a democratic republic, and as human beings seeking fulfillment, how technologies are used, regulated, and further developed are matters of important public policy and personal choice. Deciding on the degree of empowerment of autonomous AIs for driving, surgery, personal care, economic planning, and other domains will require students to understand the basics of the technology and have a cultural context in which to consider these questions. Advances in biotechnology lead to the introduction of bioethics in research science and legal arguments. Similarly, the introduction of AI in all its forms is raising ethical questions which need to be debated in an informed and considerate manner. As students familiarize themselves with the technologies, it is vital that they also approach them questioning the broader ethical considerations of further integrating them into everyday life. 

From College, Career, And Life Readiness to District Policy: Getting Beyond the Firewalls

Today, nearly every individual needs to know how to use the internet for both professional purposes and everyday life tasks. This will soon be the case with AI, as well. A huge component to appropriately prepare students for an AI world starts with districts and schools shifting from questioning if they should allow AI to when and how

Currently, most district firewalls block generative AI sites from district networks, for fear that students will use them to cheat or plagiarize. Districts can and should begin developing policies, protocols, and best practices for allowing and teaching AI use. Though this is a difficult task given the rapidly evolving nature of what is available and possible, administrators, educators, and policymakers must approach this with urgency before students get left behind.