Education, once considered an attainable goal for many, is now a daunting challenge for some. Bridging the sociocultural divide for early school leavers and second-language learners is where literacy programs play a crucial role. Evolving from traditional writing centers to comprehensive academic, information, and digital literacies, institutions now offer a holistic approach to education. Online learning, combined with embedded literacies, has provided opportunities for those who once felt higher education was out of reach. However, as we embrace the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in all aspects of life, the focus on teaching literacies becomes even more critical, particularly for those learners attracted to online education.

Which literacies will remain important in an AI-powered world? Despite AI’s ability to answer questions on learning mechanics, learners must develop awareness of lower-order literacy nuances to fully understand and analyze complex arguments. Proficiency in lower-order literacies through practice will persist as they facilitate the development of higher-order skills like critical thinking, essential for tertiary education. When applied to AI, critical analysis goes beyond prompting the right skills for generating a robust argument. Learners must resist accepting AI answers at face value and critically assess them for truth and ethics to avoid perpetuating biases. Understanding the context of AI-generated responses becomes vital for responsible decision-making, as AI will likely impact user decisions.

The urgency to develop learners’ critical thinking skills extends beyond evaluating AI responses. Stimulating human creativity in conjunction with critical thinking is imperative. We must retain our inherent drive for innovation, envisioning a future beyond AI capabilities. While AI excels at problem-solving using past data, human imagination envisions the unexplored possibilities, including future AI inventions. To ensure AI isn’t the last human innovation, nurturing creativity alongside critical thinking is paramount.

AI’s impact on literacies programs is profound, demanding new frameworks around AI literacies. Si-Cheung, Cheung, and Zhang (2023) propose three dimensions: cognitive (AI concepts), affective (creative output), and sociocultural (AI ethics). These dimensions will likely integrate into diverse degrees, fostering AI literacy as technology becomes more pervasive. In the immediate future, focusing on sociocultural dimensions, particularly in business schools, will raise awareness of AI’s ethical implications.

As AI continues to reshape our world, educators must nurture AI literacy in learners. Emphasizing innovation, creativity, and context analysis alongside critical thinking will prepare students for AI’s impact. By embracing AI literacies, we empower students to be critical users, reducing their reliance on machines and making their educational journey more enriching and exciting in this new age.

Corporate Communications
Oxford College of Business