Deep Fakes and Education

By Lesley Wilton

February 15, 2024

Deep Fakes and Education

This week, my news feeds were full of promising and concerning news about AI-generated representations. Ryan Grenoble reported in the Huffington Post about a scam that cost an unprepared multinational company millions when an employee was fooled into believing they were in a video call with the company’s executives. I was reminded of a social media (“X”) discussion I had some time ago with Mark Warschauer, a Professor of Education and Informatics at the University of California. Some five years ago I developed and have been teaching about AI in Education at the University of Toronto’s faculty of education, the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE). I have made many connections with my colleagues in Canada and around the world who are also interested in AI Literacy and AI Ethics in the education field. Last year, I was intrigued by Mark’s post about a student’s assignment submission which included a fake but believable video of Mark saying the student deserved an A+. Although it was a deepfake, the Professor recognized the creativity in this AI-generated representation. Many of us who are in the education field are intrigued by student creativity when using AI because we are looking to foster AI literacy skills in our students.

In Tseng and Warschauer’s (May 9, 2023) article, AI-writing tools in education: if you can’t beat them, join them, they propose a five-part pedagogical framework to support second language learners in the context of this rapidly expanding generative-AI world. Their AI Literacy proposal of teaching students to understand, access, prompt, corroborate and incorporate is intended to help learners effectively partner with AI. This, in my view, is the AI Literacy that educators must develop themselves (through institutional support), and then foster in their students at all levels—no easy task, though, especially for those without a technical background. The authors appeal to educators and students to consider the ethical implications of incorporating AI-generated content into their work. This aligns with the academic importance of understanding plagiarism. The issue is that there is no consensus among educators, institutions, regulators and others, on how to view generative-AI and plagiarism. To that end, many of us, have been addressing the issue of Digital Literacy for decades (Warschauer, 1999; Wilton, 2020; Wilton, Ip, Sharma & Fan, 2022). It is time to acknowledge that we live in a digital world and we all need support to know what that means.

In the context of the ongoing news of DeepFakes in our communities and everyday lives, and for those of us who are educators, we need to continue to consider expanding considerations of Digital Literacy to include AI Literacy. This is an urgent imperative. We have our work cut out for us.