📘 Lesson Plan | Self-Directed or Distance Learning | Betabox Learning

📘 Lesson Plan | Self-Directed or Distance Learning

This lesson invites students to use their debate and discussion skills to explore the ethics of self-driving car technology.

Objectives

  • Become more informed about the safety concerns regarding self-driving cars to draw conclusions about the risks and benefits of the technology.
  • Learn about the debate surrounding the environmental impacts of self-driving cars.
  • Understand the “Trolley Problem” thought experiment.

Start the lesson by dividing your class into small teams of 3 -5 students, depending on the size of your class. Each student should have paper and pencil to take notes.

Display this TED Ed Talk from Patrick Lin that frames the ethical debates around self-driving car technology.

Here are some sample questions you can ask the class with regard to this presentation.

Q: What was the difference between a reaction and a decision?

A: Reactions are instinctual actions without forethought, while decisions have pre-planned intent. 

Q: Why will self-driving cars be judged as making “decisions” rather than merely “reactions?”

A: Because the cars behavior will likely be pre-programmed by coders. 

Q: Do you think consumers would buy self-driving cars designed to keep bystanders safe, or the driver? Discuss.

Reinforce that these ‘ethics experiments’ may not truly play out with real self-driving cars but the experiments help us to hone our ethical intuitions by presenting edge cases.

Present the Lesson

“Today, we are going to be putting ourselves in the Ethical Driver’s Seat by considering arguments from different perspectives, and discussing those arguments to form our own conclusions. We will do this by listening to three audio clips of real experts in this field from a debate podcast. Ready?”

Clip #1 Discussion: Safety (9 mins)

Play this audio clip for all students to hear. Encourage students to write down the essence of the Yes and No arguments on their papers.

Discussion

Call upon a student to formulate the Yes argument and then another student to condense the No argument. Now, instruct the groups to discuss with each other which argument was stronger. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes. Pause the group discussions, and bring the class back together.

Clip #2 Discussion: Environmental Impact (10 mins)

Play this audio clip for all students to hear. Encourage students to write down the essence of the Yes and No arguments on their papers.

Discussion

Call upon a student to formulate the Yes argument, and then another student to condense the No argument. Now, instruct the groups to discuss with each other which argument was stronger. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes. Pause the group discussions, and bring the class back together.

Clip #3 Discussion: The Trolley Problem (10 mins)

Play this audio clip for all students to hear. Encourage students to write down the essence of the Yes and No arguments on their papers.

Discussion

Call upon a student to formulate the Yes argument, and then another student to condense the No argument. Now, instruct the groups to discuss with each other which argument was stronger. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes. Pause the group discussions, and bring the class back together.

Optional Activity (devices required)

Direct students to the Moral Machine Trolley Problem online simulator game to gain practice with making ethical choices.

Wrap Up

Invite students to analyze their groups ability to generate debate. Have groups give themselves a review of how well they were able to work through disagreements.

Collect the papers that students used to write down the Yes and No stances of these ethical debates.

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