Should Human Doctors be Replaced by Automated Ones?

Ages: 13-15
Suggested length: 2-3 class periods (45-55 minutes each) 
Device accessibility: 1 device per 1-2 students

Lesson Information

At a glance

In this lesson, students will be split into groups and asked to complete a partly developed Kialo discussion on the question, “should human doctors be replaced by automated ones?” The discussion explores how the increasing use of AI affects the efficiency, cost and quality of healthcare. 

Each group will be given a clone of a partially developed Kialo discussion: either a “pro-automation” discussion or an “anti-automation” discussion. Students will spend one class period conducting research and a second class period developing their discussion clone so that it represents both sides of the question.

Student groups will be assessed on the quality of the claims they add to their debates.

Learning objective(s)

In this lesson, students will:

  • Practice research skills across different fields, inquiring both into medical practices and norms as well as the use and future of AI.
  • Formulate arguments for or against the use of AI in medical contexts using reasons and evidence.

Prior knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of how doctors diagnose their patients. First, they inquire about symptoms and then use their medical knowledge to analyze the data and give a diagnosis. They then recommend treatment accordingly.

Teacher preparation

  • Make enough clones of the “pro-automation” and “anti-automation” discussions for every group (only 1 clone of either discussion per group).
    • We recommend about 4-6 students per group.
    • In the provided Kialo discussion, there is a default discussion task for students to add 3 claims. You can alter discussion task settings in your own clone and then use it as a template for any subsequent clones you wish to make.
      • You can also edit the student instructions to reflect any changes.
  • When inviting students to their clones of the discussion, give them Writer permissions.

Provided materials

Lesson Plan

Suggested length: 2 class periods (45-55 minutes each)

Lesson components:
– Opener (8-20 minutes)
– Activity
– Part A: Exploring the Kialo discussion (focus of 1 class period)
– Part B: Developing the Kialo discussion (focus of 1 class period)
– Optional closer (5-10 minutes)

Student groups will be assessed on their contributions to the Kialo discussion. (see suggested rubric in provided materials)

– Make sure that each student group has their own clone of the discussion to develop.

Opener (8-20 minutes)

  1. Pose the following question to the whole class: “Would you prefer your medical treatment to be in the hands of a human doctor or an automated one?” Conduct a brief discussion of students’ answers.
  2. Tell students that, according to the International Federation of Robotics, the medical robots market is expected to be $12.6 billion globally by 2023. Split students into pairs and ask them to discuss why medical robots might be gaining such acceptance.

Optional extension (12 min.): Activate students’ knowledge by showing the TEDed video “Will AI mean we no longer need doctors?”.

  1. Inform students that they will be put in groups and assigned a partly developed Kialo discussion: either a “pro-automation” or an “anti-automation” discussion. Explain that students will develop their assigned discussion to represent both sides of the question.


Part A: Exploring Kialo Discussions (1 class period)

  1. Split the class into groups of 4-6 and assign each group either a “pro-automation” or an “anti-automation” discussion. If possible, there should be an equal number of “pro” and “anti” groups.
  2. Go over Part A of student instructions and direct student groups to explore their assigned discussion.

Part B: Developing Kialo Discussion (1 class period)

  1. Go over Part B of student instructions.
  2. Direct student groups to begin developing their assigned discussion clones. Give students approximately 25 minutes to add 3 new claims each or about 15 per group.

Tip: You can keep track of how many claims each student has added by pressing the    button in the top-left of the discussion and looking at the “Tasks” tab.

Optional differentiation: You can require students to not only link sources in their claims, but to provide properly formatted academic citations in the Quote/Note box.

  1. Reconvene the whole class and go through each group’s new discussion. 

Tip: New claims added by students will have a blue dot on their top-right corner. This can make it easier to identify students’ contributions.

Optional closer (5-10 minutes) 

  1. Show students the fully developed Kialo discussion.
  2. Compare the full Kialo discussion with the arguments made by students. Were there any claims that all groups on one side missed? Were any claims especially persuasive for the students? Conduct a class discussion around these questions.

Related Kialo Discussion

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