Original article was published by ReadyAI.org on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Education 4.0: Providing AI Education for All
— Roozbeh Aliabadi
Today, we are falling short of providing AI education for all, which requires us to rethink the schools’ concept. Just look for the origin of schools. It is mainly defined by “studying” subjects and being separate from the everyday reality of personal life and work life. I believe this is the wrong way for AI education at the K-12 level.
At ReadyAI, we believe it may not be as challenging to reform AI learning education systems. We have the initial building blocks to create a more equal and personalized education. (AI+Me Online Course, 5 Big Ideas in AI Picture Books)
Since our early days at ReadyAI in 2017, we understood the science behind how young students learn in classrooms, which strongly resonates with playful experiences throughout childhood. These active experiences lead to a greater understanding of AI knowledge, concepts, and applications, the ability to practice a broad set of skills focused on the whole learner, and, most importantly, to learn throughout life with a high engagement and motivation level.
I believe we are on the verge of a revolution in how play can develop both knowledge and skills across the school, home, and communities.
So let’s reassess the most basic questions:
Do we need to use children’s “time spent in school’ as an indicator of learning AI concepts and applications?
Given today’s challenges with COVID-19 and the uncertain landscape of K12 education shortly, children need a separate exposure to quality learning experiences. What matters is active engagement in meaningful projects and activists and not a full day with 50 min lectures inside a virtual classroom. Learning happens across different settings, when young learners are allowed to try out and reflect on different ways, including a blend of independent home-school projects and in-school guidance and group work.
Should we come up with alternatives to standardized testing?
The answer is an unequivocal YES. The current testing learning results are focused only on a very narrow set of subjects, which may not even significantly impact how children learn and remember. Today many universities have deviated from standardized testing, and there is evidence that more integrated and project-based forms of assessment have more significant learning gains. Take a look at a group of elementary students using AI as a baking companion.
Should parents have a more integrated role in children’s learning?
Undoubtedly, yes. Parents are the first teachers of this AI native generation but what we have learned is that they are equally critical to the school years and adolescence. However, being engaged in home-schooling often requires a period with intensive support, and we should incentivize companies and workplaces to provide flexibility for parents to follow and nurture children’s interest and learning.
What is the role of teachers inside and outside the classroom?
Working with a teacher from every continent and over 90 countries, I believe that teachers are critical. Still, the essential element of both in-class and remote learning is based on teacher balancing the facilitation across traditional instructions, guided education, and support of open-ended projects, and making sure that children are actively involved and engaged in meaningful activities connecting with peers. However, let’s not forget that we do not have equal access to the most basic technologies. We need to ensure that every student and every family has connections to networks and technologies across schools, homes, and communities. Teachers are provided with the knowledge and confidence to try new blended learning strategies.
Can communities and the outdoor spaces be more than just for fun and recreation?
There is no doubt that communities have some of the essential qualities and expertise, and the development of AI skills is nurtured through community organizations and outdoor spaces. We should equip our communities with spaces that promote the full breadth of creative activities, sports, and hobbies as places where children and students can always go for physical training, motivation, and supervision. I believe schools could also learn from being more open and flexible learning centers with access to quality materials and care.
I joined the workforce two decades ago and am looking at how many workplaces have to change dove the past two decades, and in the past few months alone, many employees are no longer required to be physically present all the time in the office. Instead, performance and outcomes are measured by the creative way to deliver positive results and the ways colleagues are positively engaged and motivated in their everyday work. Similarly, many children will benefit from a more flexible use of time, space outside the formal school.
We do not need to go back to traditional schools to achieve positive outcomes for our young learners and society. Instead, we must use the opportunity to pool our resources and consider blended forms of learning. This includes more flexibility for the home, school, and community to come together and apply new principles of education, which are much better suited for children’s personalized needs and more relevant for society’s health and well-being.