AI Basics for Schools MOOC ~ A Brief Summary ~
Publication date: December 6, 2021
The EU Code Week AI Basics for Schools massive open online course (MOOC) was developed with the aim to provide pre-primary, primary and secondary teachers with an opportunity to gain a basic understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potentials and challenges in the classroom. The course ran for 4,5 weeks, from 8 March – 7 April 2021, on the EUN online platform.
The MOOC was organized in three modules with an estimated workload of 15 hours.
In the first module, What is AI?, the participants were provided with a timeline to explore the development of AI through history to understand why AI has become a major technological revolution of our time. They were introduced to the basic concepts of AI and learned about the subfields of AI, in particular machine learning and deep learning.
Participants discussed how computers process and analysed large amounts of natural language data, how artificial networks perform complex calculations and why computers can perform visual classification tasks better than humans. We concluded that the AI we use today is in fact quite limited and that computers and robots that exceed human intelligence do not exist (yet).
Three types of AI
In the second module, AI in Education (AIEd), the participants explored different examples of effective use of AI tools for teaching and learning and implemented EU Code Week AI Learning Bits in their teaching practice. AI is mainly used in applications and solutions that support learning for individual students. Many students already use language translators, language learning apps, math helpers, text to speech generators or automatic subtitling in their everyday schoolwork. AI has already shown great potential for supporting students with special needs in being responsive to students’ abilities.
There are many examples of promising uses that foreshadow how AI might transform education: AI could accelerate personalized learning, provide students with continuous assessment and feedback and apply learning analytics to differentiate the learning process so that it is adapted to individual student needs in real time. AI could help reduce the amount of time teachers spend on administrative work and repetitive tasks, free up their time and allow them to dedicate more time to supporting their students.
In the third module, AI Benefits and Challenges, the participants examined ethical issues behind artificial intelligence and discussed potential and sometimes irreparable harm that may be caused by poor design, improper intentional or unintentional use and negative consequences of AI systems. AI has raised a number of ethical concerns including algorithmic bias, discrimination, fairness, transparency, accountability, privacy and surveillance. The participants were provided with teaching materials and resources about these issues.
Despite the challenges, the potentials of AI used for the societal benefit are immense. AI technologies are already deployed in different fields from fighting fake news to medical diagnostics to detect illnesses and tailor patient treatment.
The societal benefits of AI
During the MOOC, two live sessions were organized and livestreamed on Facebook. The first live event Live practice with AI tools in the classroom was a practical hands-on session with guest speakers Georgia Lascaris from Greece and Adil Tugyan from Turkey. The experts introduced tools such as Autodraw and Poem Portraits to more than 350 viewers who followed the live event on Facebook and actively participated in the activities. In the second Live event with AI experts, the guest speakers Prof. Teemu Roos from Finland and Marco Neves from Portugal talked about the ethics of AI and shared their expertise and ideas on how to use AI responsibly and safely in education.
The AI Basics for Schools MOOC was organised around the principle of peer learning, meaning that the participants learned from each other’s experiences and engaged in discussions with other participants. The participants were encouraged to take part in crowdsourcing to help build a collection of AI tools and technologies for different subjects as well as AI lesson plans that can immediately be used in the classroom.
2955 educators from 73 countries registered to take part in the MOOC. Out of 1517 participants who started following at least one course module, 64% successfully completed the MOOC with a 52% engagement rate. In order to obtain the course certificate and the course badge, the participants had to develop and submit an AI Learning Activity and review three activities of other participants. 99% of post-survey respondents rated the overall value of the course as “Good” or “Very good”.
Even though the course is now finished and it is no longer moderated, you can still sign up for it here: AI Basics for School. You can listen to our guest speakers, explore the materials and resources and implement interesting activities in your classroom.