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Check-In and Overview

Suggested time: 20 min

Facilitator tip: If you’re meeting online, you may want to offer participants time before the session to check in about technical difficulties. Many virtual facilitators like to join their meetings 10 minutes early to allow participants time to troubleshoot or ask questions before the learning circle begins.

Facilitator tip: To maintain a collaborative environment, ask participants to volunteer and take turns introducing themselves and reading sections of this course out loud to each other.

Welcome to the learning circle! (10 minutes)

A learning circle is a facilitated study group for people who want to meet regularly and learn about a topic with others. Learning circles have a facilitator whose job is to keep the meetings appropriate, on task, and supportive of individual learners’ participation and goals. There are no teachers or students in a learning circle—instead, everyone works through the material together as peers. Even if you’re brand new to this topic, sharing your opinions and personal experiences with the group will make it a much richer learning experience for everyone.

Learning circle overview

This learning circle is focused on the basics of artificial intelligence (AI) and on how it impacts everyday life. It is designed to run for 5 weeks, meeting once a week for 90 minutes.

During those 5 weeks, we will cover:

  • How to recognize AI
  • How AI systems use data to learn and make decisions
  • The key ethical issues embedded in AI
  • How to engage with AI use and oversight

Each module contains a short instructional video, discussions about subject matter, short interactive activities, and a comic book with supplementary reading. You won’t need to come prepared with extra materials or to have any specific knowledge of programming, math, or AI to complete the activities.

Group expectations

To create a supportive and effective space for everyone, it’s recommended that the group agrees on a set of norms for their meetings. It is the facilitator’s role to uphold these expectations and remind participants when they are not upheld. Here are some suggestions (adapted from Our Data Bodies’ Digital Defense Playbook) that work well for most learning circles:

  • Respect the speaker: When a person is sharing, allow them to share their complete thoughts without interruption. Listen actively and push past distractions from digital devices and your environment when possible.
  • Speak from “I” and eye: Share from your own experience and perspective. Don’t assume the experiences of others and avoid making comments or generalizations about entire communities. Keep your shares focused on what you see, what you notice, and what you feel.
  • Lean into discomfort: Some topics may be uncomfortable to talk about because of personal experiences or oppressions felt in your everyday life. The emotions and feelings that may arise are normal and can help enhance authentic learning together if shared. Participants are asked to lean into their own discomfort and honor the space for others to do the same.
  • Step up, step back: A learning circle is most effective when all voices can be heard. If you find yourself speaking often, step back and create space for others to share their ideas. If you’re someone who prefers to listen, push yourself to speak out and share at least once per meeting.
  • Keep it confidential: What happens in the learning circle stays in the learning circle. Respect the privacy of your fellow participants and don’t share others’ stories without consent.

Group discussion (10 minutes)

  • What expectations or norms would you add to this list? Take away?
  • Go through each expectation and discuss how that action or reaction could look in practice. How would you want to address any conflicts that arise?

Facilitator tip: Ask all participants to agree to expectations by collectively raising their hand on video, typing a message in the chat, or writing their name in a shared agenda.

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