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6 Resources for teaching about Artificial Intelligence

The interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown so much in the past few months, with news alerts and updates about how Artificial Intelligence is being used in almost every area of life. Last year, Information Week published a "10 Prime Industries for AI Applications" and it was interesting to read how much AI is already being used in the world. There are applications for AI in business, education, the legal field, healthcare, manufacturing, military, politics, science; and the use of AI continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

Where do we see it

Approximately 77% of people are using AI every day while only 33% of consumers think that they are. Think about some of your daily activities when it comes to communication, transportation, or shopping, for a few examples. In these cases, AI is working and you may not realize how many times each day we interact with AI.

For example, spam filters in your email, ride services like Uber or Lyft, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter that make suggestions for people or chats to follow, and online shopping made easier with recommended items for you based on prior purchases. Perhaps you rely on virtual assistants or smart speakers to catch up on the latest news, ask a question, or to set personal reminders.

Each of these examples functions using Artificial Intelligence and all are good ways to get a conversation started with students about AI use in everyday life and to progress to having conversations about privacy and ethics later on.

Read more: Exploring the most popular smart speakers for the classroom

What does this mean for educators and students?

With such an increase in the use of AI and machine learning in the world, gone are the days where we might have thought that we just need to worry about the specific content we teach. We have a responsibility to bring in as many different learning opportunities that not only challenge our students but challenge ourselves professionally as well.

Read more: Learning and growing as educators

The benefit of AI is that it takes massive amounts of data, processes and sorts it, and then can locate vital information to help humans in many different areas of life. As educators, having access to something that helps us to sort through large amounts of student data in a short period of time -- thus freeing up time for us to interact with students one-on-one -- is a huge benefit. Using AI to have instant access to resources that offer more personalized learning for students provided in real-time is where I think the benefits of AI truly lie.

Read more: Is Artificial Intelligence the best sidekick for teachers?

As educators, we can help our students to build upon the basic skills and knowledge and then pursue their own curiosity to take it to the next level of exploration. Some of our students will be the ones developing Artificial Intelligence, writing lines of code, or working in the development of different tools.

Last year, VentureBeat referred to a shortage in people with the much needed AI tech skills. More than 1600 people were also surveyed and 74% believed that machine learning and artificial intelligence are game-changers, but that there are not enough people available with the skills needed.

To help with this shortage, we need to take the opportunity to engage our students in different learning activities to learn more about AI. We can move them from consumers to creators.

6 Resources for teaching about Artificial Intelligence

Concepts like artificial intelligence or machine learning can bring with them hesitation and uncertainty. Some people may feel overwhelmed because of the perceived complexity of how these technologies work and their potential or perceived impact on life now and in the future.

Read more: Will AI replace teachers?

However, even though AI and how it functions is quite complex, we do not need to understand every single aspect of it. We need to understand it at a level that is explainable. Meaning, what we need is to have a solid understanding of what AI is, how it is used in everyday life, how it works, and the potential for the future when it comes to learning and work.

Here are six avenues to explore:

  1. AI Experiments. These provide time for students to explore the experiments to come to their own understanding of what makes it “artificial intelligence.” Two fun activities to start with are Google Quick Draw and Semantris. Another interesting one to explore is the AI+ Writing.
  2. AI4K12. This resource offers a space for educators to learn more about the work being done in writing curriculum for K-12, as currently there is not a national curriculum available. Explore the “5 Big Ideas” that students should understand related to AI.
  3. AI4ALL. This one offers free resources for students to learn about AI and even take part in a “build your AI for good” project. Through AI4ALL Open Learning, students can learn about AI for social good and explore AI in areas such as art, environment, and medicine.
  4. Avatars: Students can create their own talking avatars to explain something they have learned or even create a lesson to share with peers or younger students. Some tools for creating avatars that are easy to use are: Voki, Tellagami, and My talking avatar.
  5. Crash Course Artificial Intelligence. This is a fun video series that introduces students and educators to Artificial Intelligence and also offers additional more advanced videos. Learn about the basics, neural networks, algorithms, and more.
  6. Teachable Machine. Create your own machine learning models by training a computer to recognize different gestures, poses, images, or sounds.

All in all

As educators, we must help our students to develop the skills that they will need to be successful in the future, especially when it comes to these emerging technologies. By understanding how Artificial Intelligence is being used in our daily lives and then providing some opportunities for students to explore one of these resources, we can build our knowledge together. There are many resources out there to try, we simply need to start with one and let students take the lead and teach us as well.

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