Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more prevalent in the world, and it is undeniably changing the landscape of education. Therefore, I’ve been questioning myself on how college education should adapt today to prepare students for this AI future ahead of us.

What can we do today in our classroom to prepare students for a future with cutting-edge technology? What skills are essential to develop to live in a future with AI? What can we do to prepare students to face a future workplace with AI?

In this article, I will provide guidelines to foster the development of human skills within your classrooms, as well as different strategies to adapt your teaching practices to help your students develop the skills they need for future challenges.

What are human skills?

Human skills, also known as soft skills, are communication and interpersonal skills that enable individuals to work effectively with others and navigate their professional and personal lives.

Unlike hard or technical skills, which are specific abilities related to a particular job or task, human skills are more about personal qualities and behaviours that contribute to overall success in various aspects of life. Some common human skills include:

  • communication
  • teamwork
  • problem-solving
  • adaptability
  • time management
  • emotional intelligence
  • conflict resolution
  • critical thinking

Human skills for an AI-powered world

The use of AI in our daily lives will be one of the most significant technological shifts in the years to come. After reading Florence Sedaminou Muratet’s blog post on the latest Open AI innovations, I realized how advancements in AI are coming at a breakneck speed. Therefore, it is our responsibility as teachers to prepare and equip students to face this technology-forward future.

In the future, most jobs will require different skills to deal with AI. However, employers will be seeking people with specific humanskills. These skills are crucial for students to develop in order to succeed in a future workplace where AI is present. They complement the technical expertise of AI, leading to an effective collaboration in which AI and humans work hand in hand to create a well-rounded workforce.

I will discuss 5 interconnected human skills that I have identified as crucial for students to develop:

  • decision-making
  • problem-solving
  • metacognition
  • collaboration
  • communication

It is important to keep in mind that these human skills all rely one way or the other on critical thinking as a foundation. Critical thinking involves analyzing and evaluating data, but it also entails fully understanding a problem from every angle to make an effective decision.

Without critical thinking, a student’s decision-making and problem-solving skills would be lacking. Critical thinking is important for students in today’s world more than ever to be able to deal with the amount of information, decisions, and global problems we are facing.

I created an infographic representing the 5 skills students need for a future with AI

1- Decision-making skills

With AI tools and search engines at their fingertips, students have easy access to information. Using traditional learning strategies, such as asking for details, remembering facts or using multiple-choice questions, becomes irrelevant in today’s context. To make their lessons instructive, teachers have to prepare them for a future based on decision-making and life lessons.

To help your students develop decision-making skills, focus on the “why” and “how,” not on the “what.” For instance, based on the characters’ experience in a story or on the people’s experience in real-life situations, you could ask your students:

  • Why do you think they did that?
  • How did that turn out for them?
  • If you were in their shoes, how would you do that differently?
  • How does this translate to our everyday lives?
  • How could this have informed something that’s going on in the world today?

To reinforce your students’ decision-making skills, you can:

  • encourage small and big group discussions
  • promote active listening (students can get other insights to inform their decisions further)
  • ask students to make connections with their own experiences
  • present simulations (learning through experience by contextualizing the information)

With this shift toward “why”, students will learn important life lessons, advice, and truths they can apply in their own lives when the time comes to make important ethical decisions and take action.

2- Problem-solving skills

Another shift in education caused by the presence of technology is from simply finding solutions to problems to learning how to solve them. To do so, you need to encourage problem-solving skills.

To achieve this goal, focus on offering problem-solving tasks rather than asking students to answer a list of questions. To have your students work methodically through a problem to come to a solution, you can implement these teaching practices:

To help students develop critical thinking, teachers can use any of these approaches to put it into the context of a real-life problem, such as global warming or food waste, and guide them through the process of solving the problem by using these steps:

  1. analyzing the problem
  2. understanding and evaluating the information
  3. analyzing the information effectively
  4. applying that information to a new context
  5. using the information to make effective decisions

To come to a solution to the problem, students will also have to develop their creative thinking skills. Creative thinking uses critical thinking skills as a foundation to produce something new, in order to create solutions that effectively solve problems. The more difficult a problem, the higher the level of creativity required to solve it.

Even though AI is becoming increasingly capable of doing things that humans can do, it is still important that humans know how to make sound decisions and be creative to be able to come up with new ideas and solve problems in innovative ways. Encouraging students to be creative now will help them to thrive in a future with AI.

3- Metacognitive skills

Metacognition goes beyond simply acquiring knowledge; it involves thinking about our own thinking and having the ability to reflect on our learning.

To get students to develop metacognitive skills, encourage them to focus on the process to get to the product more than the product itself. In other words, they should focus on the learning process and not on the grades. Ask them:

  • How did you solve that problem?
  • What were the steps you took to arrive at that conclusion?
  • What part of the process was challenging for you?
  • What strategies did you use to overcome these challenges?
  • If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
  • What did you learn through the process?

One way of doing so is by introducing metacognitive wrappers. These activities usually come in the form of a questionnaire related to a pedagogical task in which the student is encouraged to:

  • question and reflect on their study and work habits before (and during) the task (for example, by questioning the preparation required)
  • analyze the process and results of the task after it has been completed (by using checklists to ensure objectives and requirements are met, identifying problems and establishing strategies, referring to the evaluation grids to make accurate judgments about their own learning, etc.)

By developing metacognitive activities, you prepare your students for an AI future in which it will be up to humans to focus on the process and take action accordingly. Students who possess strong metacognitive skills will be better equipped to approach new challenges, adapt to different learning environments, and face difficulties.

4- Collaboration skills

The benefits of collaborative work in the classroom are numerous. For instance, it can boost motivation for students, and it also helps students gain deep knowledge about themselves (strengths and weaknesses) and how to relate to others.

But let’s not forget that collaboration can also prepare students for their future in a world where humans thrive on the ability to work as a team and build relationships with each other. It is obviously an attribute that employers seek in a candidate.

Collaborative work means that students work together and might depend on each other’s skills to complete a shared task. This can be done through long and short-term projects, such as action-research projects, but also through simple tasks in the classroom by implementing learning stations or using the jigsaw method for example.

No matter what the task is, keep these principles in mind to help students develop collaboration skills:

  • Show them the importance of collaboration by showing them how they can contribute not only to the task but also to the world.
  • Show them that their actions make a difference.
  • Help them develop their social consciousness and problem-solving skills, for example when facing ethical problems.

To activate their metacognitive strategies, have the students reflect on these questions after the collaborative task:

  • How did you contribute to the project?
  • Were there any disagreements? How were they handled?
  • What were your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What could you have done differently to best utilize your strengths?

Furthermore, in a world where collaboration with AI is becoming more common, understanding how to work with AI tools is important. Just as students collaborate with peers, they will also collaborate with AI, learning their specific roles and understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This highlights the importance of collaboration skills in navigating the future where human-AI collaboration will be prevalent.

It is crucial for students to see themselves as part of a system, as agents whose actions have the power to make a difference and influence others. Whether it is about working together or with AI, collaboration is a timeless skill.

5- Communication skills

Thinking critically and coming up with solutions to problems are essential, but students must also be able to communicate the results and persuade others of their effectiveness.

Communication skills involve taking an idea and being able to convey it clearly and concisely to a targeted audience in a given context. To help students develop these skills, provide them with opportunities to speak, write, or showcase their work or progress in the classroom.

To do so, you can introduce these strategies into your teaching practices:

  • give and receive feedback
  • ask open-ended questions
  • develop critical thinking activities
  • teach how to use nonverbal communication effectively
  • encourage them to use different forms of media to communicate
  • encourage active listening
  • teach them skills in collaborative communication, such as negotiating, mediating, and persuading
  • promote oral interaction activities (interviews, simulations, group discussions, etc.)

In an era driven by AI, effective communication becomes even more important as students interact not only with peers but also with AI systems. To get meaningful results from AI, students must learn to prompt it with open-ended questions and adjust their communication based on AI feedback. By mastering these aspects of human-AI interaction, students can effectively collaborate with AI, articulate their goals, and maximize their impact on the world.

Taking action now for a better future

Teachers play a pivotal role in ensuring students hone these soft skills today to prepare them for an AI future and help them thrive in an increasingly AI-driven world. Integrating these insights into teaching practices is key to helping students develop the skills needed for the challenges ahead. How are you implementing these ideas into your practices? Share your experiences and strategies in the comments!


Fourtané, S. (November 2023) How Universities Can Better Prepare Students for a Future wiith AI. Fierce Telecom.

Hamilton, F. (n.d.) How to prepare students for a future with AI. Euro Science.

Miller, M. (November 2023) 6 ways to prepare students for an AI future. Ditch that Textbook.

Peters, S. (September 2023) Tips for Preparing Students for a Future with AI. Government Technology.

Poyh, R. D (April 2023) Artificial Intelligence : Preparing Students for the Future.

Stover, B. (July 2023) 5 AI proof Skills your Students Need for the Future. Theory into Action.

About the author

Véronique Drolet

After teaching English as a second language and English Language Arts at the secondary level for 16 years, Véronique Drolet has recently joined the college network. She is currently an English teacher at Cégep Limoilou. In addition, her strong interest in languages led her to complete a certificate in translation. Passionate about the pedagogical integration of digital technology, she is now part of the Eductive team as a technopedagogic editor.

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