Foundational Skills and Lifelong Learning are Key in a World of AI

By: Matt Rhoads with GPT4

How can we prepare our students for a future where artificial intelligence (AI) will play a vital role in solving problems and completing tasks? How can build the skills necessary to easily pivot in an ever-changing world? How can we ensure that they have the foundational skills of reading, writing, and editing that will enable them to communicate effectively, critically evaluate information, and collaborate with others as well as AI? These are some of the questions that educators need to consider as they design and implement learning experiences for their students in the 21st century.

Foundational skills are the critical building blocks of learning. The foundational skills we are referring to are basic literacy, numeracy, and transferable skills that are essential for students to access and engage with more complex and diverse content and contexts. According to the World Bank, foundational learning is “the foundations of a child’s education” and “the building block in the process of acquiring knowledge and experiences by progressing through various stages of the education system”. Without strong foundational skills, students will struggle to achieve higher-order cognitive skills such as analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information, which is more important than ever before in a world where AI will be integrated into every piece of technology someone uses.

However, foundational skills are not only important for academic success. They are also crucial for lifelong learning and adaptability in a rapidly changing world. As AI becomes more prevalent and powerful in various domains and sectors, it will create new opportunities and challenges for workers and citizens. AI can augment human capabilities, automate tasks, generate insights, and provide solutions. Yet, without the ability continuously learn and learn specific specialties at a given time, will put them at a disadvantage.

As a result, students need to be lifelong learners so they use AI effectively and efficiently as a tool for learning and problem-solving as the world changes around them. They need to understand the strengths and limitations of AI, the data and algorithms that drive it, and the implications and consequences of its use. They need to be able to ask relevant questions, define clear goals, provide feedback, interpret results, and make informed decisions. They need to be able to collaborate with others across disciplines, cultures, and perspectives. And they need to be able to communicate their ideas, arguments, and solutions clearly and persuasively.

To do all these things well, students need strong foundational skills in reading, writing, and editing. Reading is not only about decoding words on a page or screen. It is also about comprehending complex texts from various sources and genres, identifying main ideas and supporting details, making connections and inferences, evaluating evidence and arguments, and applying knowledge to new situations. Writing is not only about producing sentences and paragraphs. It is also about organizing thoughts and information logically, expressing ideas creatively and coherently, using appropriate language and tone for different audiences and purposes, revising and editing for clarity and accuracy, and citing sources properly. Editing is not only about correcting grammar and spelling errors. It is also about improving style and structure, enhancing coherence and cohesion, eliminating redundancy and ambiguity, ensuring consistency and precision, and adhering to conventions and standards.

These foundational skills are not static or isolated. They are dynamic and interrelated. They can be developed and improved through practice and feedback. They can be applied across disciplines and domains. They can be leveraged to enhance learning outcomes with AI. And they can be transferred to new contexts and challenges in the future.

As educators, we have a responsibility to foster these foundational skills in our students throughout their educational careers. We need to provide them with rich and varied learning experiences that challenge them to read widely and deeply, write creatively and critically, and edit carefully and collaboratively. We need to support them with effective instruction and assessment that align with their needs and goals. We need to model and encourage a curiosity for learning as it will be more critical than ever now and in the future. And we need to empower them with the confidence and competence to use AI as a partner and a resource for lifelong learning and problem-solving.

By doing so, we can help our students become generalists who can learn how to use AI to be specialists in solving a wide variety of tasks. We can help them prepare for a future where AI will be an integral part of their work and life. We can help them fulfill their potential and contribute positively to their community and world.

Questions to Think About

  • What are some examples of how you use AI in your teaching or learning?
  • How do you assess your students’ foundational skills of reading, writing, and editing?
  • What are some strategies or resources that you use or recommend to develop or improve these skills?
  • What are some ethical, social, or economic issues or dilemmas that you or your students have encountered or anticipate encountering when using AI?
  • How will you focus on lifelong learning in your teaching?

Note: Over the last couple of weeks, I wanted to write a blog with the assistance of GPT4. For transparency purposes, I utilized the following prompt (see below) and then further edited and enhanced the blog to meet what I felt would be a solid final product:

You are an education expert writing a blog. You will be drafting the rough draft of this blog. Be sure to start off with an engaging question and hook. End the blog with several discussion questions for the audience to ponder. This blog is on the importance of the foundational skills of reading, writing, and editing writing when working with artificial intelligence. The main theme is that without having foundational knowledge about a concept, how can you direct AI to help you solve a problem and complete a task. As educators, we need to focus on important foundational skills throughout a student’s educational career so they can be generalists, but learn how to use AI to be specialists in solving a wide variety of tasks. This will be key as the nature of work will quickly change and workers will have to learn quickly with AI to meet the needs of the community and world. Overall, educators need to focus on foundational skills and teach students how to be lifelong learners so they can use AI effectively and efficiently in our ever-changing world.

Overall, let me know your thoughts after reading it!

Published by Matthew Rhoads, Ed.D.

Innovator, EdTech Trainer and Leader, University Lecturer & Teacher Candidate Supervisor, Consultant, Author, and Podcaster

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