“AI education can promote critical thinking and spur emotional intelligence as students explore AI applications and analyze societal implications and ethics in AI, even for students who never write a single line of code.”
The AI for Schools project, initiated by CONFIRM PhD student Qatada Damra under the supervision of Prof. Gavin Walker, works directly with secondary school teachers in both Jordan and Ireland to co-create low-code/no-code AI focused resources for use in the classroom. Qatada describes the project below.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an increasingly important part of our daily lives and is expected to play a significant role in the future of the workforce in Ireland. As a result, it is crucial that the next generation be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges in this field. The AI for Schools initiative is a project aimed at training teachers to teach AI, in order to promote the sharing of information with students, and to foster the development of greater trust between researchers and the wider community. Through this project, we are developing a flexible AI curriculum that is tailored to the specific needs of young learners while also providing them with an enjoyable learning experience. By empowering educators to integrate AI concepts into their classrooms, and by fostering a greater understanding of the subject among their students, we hope to bridge the gap between the traditional school curriculum and the latest trends in AI and prepare students for the digital transformation revolution.”
The project combines the technical and scientific expertise from industry and the research community with the educational expertise of teachers to develop these resources which can then be used in any secondary school classroom.
Originally conceived in 2019, the project is funded through the CONFIRM Education & Public Engagement (EPE) programme, aligning with two of its pillars of activity; Education & Careers, and Capacity Building.
- To design a flexible AI curriculum that is tailored to the specific needs of young learners and test it in a classroom environment in collaboration with teachers.
- To train schoolteachers to deliver the curriculum.
- To evaluate the learning experience of students and use the results to develop a plan for scaling up the programme.
- To deliver the course using a code-free approach to focus on transferable skills and competencies and maximize the time and attention of the students.
- To introduce students to the online community of AI developers and provide guidance and encouragement for them to effectively engage and learn about AI.
- To bridge the gap between the traditional school curriculum and the latest trends in AI, in order to prepare students for the digital transformation revolution.
- To enhance student understanding of the interdisciplinary connections between AI, science, and business applications, thereby making them more literate in the technology.
- To empower educators to integrate AI concepts into their teaching thereby fostering a greater understanding of the subject among their students.
Achievements to Date
Overall, the AI for Schools initiative has been successful in its efforts to bridge the gap between research and wider society and to promote a greater understanding of AI among students and teachers. The project has achieved its initial objectives, had a positive impact, and provided valuable lessons and insights for future work.
- Review and revision of the drafted project booklet based on evaluation data from the initial round of delivery to students.
- Development of 2 additional modules on “AI in Smart Manufacturing” and “AI in Education”, with the purchase of 4 3D printers and filament for use in the schools.
- Another round of teacher training is planned for early 2023, in response to interest in the programme from other schools.