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AI algorithms: How well do they know you? Lesson plan

How does artificial intelligence influence what we see online? This lesson was created by Common Sense Education.

AI algorithms: How well do they know you? Lesson plan

20 minutes
In a world filled with more content than we could ever possibly consume, recommendation algorithms have long been a necessary part of the internet. This type of AI helps determine what we see (and don't see) online. But while that can be helpful, these algorithms can have unintended consequences, like creating filter bubbles, perpetuating bias, and undermining our creativity, choices, and opportunities. Use this lesson to help your students think critically about how AI is shaping their experiences online in both helpful and harmful ways.


  • Learn what recommendation algorithms are.
  • Understand how recommendation algorithms are trained and make decisions.
  • Reflect on how algorithmic content can shape our online experiences and what we value.


  • artificial intelligence (AI) – a computer program or app that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence
  • recommendation algorithm – a type of artificial intelligence that decides what content to show or curate for someone

What you'll need

Step by step

  1. Ask: What usually happens after you finish watching a video on YouTube? Or right when you open TikTok? How are these apps so good at feeding you what you want to see? (Slide 4)
  2. Say: Social media platforms (including YouTube) use recommendation algorithms, which are a type of artificial intelligence (AI), to curate content for us (Slide 5).
Define artificial intelligence and recommendation algorithm (Slides 6–7).
  1. Say: We're going to watch a video that explains how recommendation algorithms work, and how they can influence what we think and do (Slide 8).
  2. Show the "Is the Internet Expanding or Narrowing Our Minds?" video (Slide 9) and have students complete the Recommendation Algorithms handout.
Refer to the Teacher Version of the handout to guide the discussion. You can also refer to Slides 10–15.
  1. Ask: Let's reflect on the tips from the video, and your own experiences online. How can you make social media algorithms "work" better for you? (Slide 16)
Have students pair-share. Then invite students to share out.
  1. Say: Recommendation algorithms are a type of AI that filters the content and media we consume. This gives them the power to shape our opinions, and even the people we connect with. That's why it's important to think critically about what you're seeing (and what you're not) when you go online (Slide 17).

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