ISTE 2018 emphasizes AI in classrooms

A new initiative aims to connect underrepresented students with AI, STEM career opportunities

“ISTE sees AI as a critical component of the STEM curriculum, and in this work with GM, our aim is to shift students from consumers of AI technologies to creators of AI technologies that address real problems,” ISTE CEO Richard Culatta said in a release about the partnership. “The professional learning and student opportunities we are creating through this partnership with GM are incredible.”

Many of today’s students will hold jobs that don’t yet exist today, and to prepare them for that workplace, teachers must be prepared to transfer essential skills and knowledge.

“Think about AI not from the point of view of how it will replace teachers–it needs to be for students,” said Dr. Joseph South, ISTE’s chief learning officer. “How do we help students understand and program AI? In order to do that, you have to prepare teachers, too.”

The initiative has already met a number of milestones, and highlights include:

  • Educators from Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois and Michigan participated in a new 10-week online course that focused on how the technology can facilitate learning and solve problems in schools and communities.
  • Educators from schools in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin introduced AI chatbots to students. Students were then challenged to program an AI chatbot solution for a classroom or schoolwide need.
  • Development of an online course, Artificial Intelligence Explorations and Their Practical Use in Schools, focused on AI for learning, project-based computer science learning and next generation skills. In the upcoming school year, this course will be offered to over 600 teachers, technology coordinators and instructional coaches.
  • Development of an AI and STEM Career Exploration Network of higher education and industry partners to provide participating educators with exposure to AI and machine learning research and development; computer science and engineering career awareness explorations; hands-on workshops and mentorship; and networking with experts who share insights and industry knowledge.

“What are we doing to prepare students–the future of the workforce? What are we doing to prepare teachers to help students? These concepts are great in research labs, but no one was making a concerted effort to bring them into the classrooms for PBL,” Baloch said. “This partnership with ISTE gave us the opportunity to bring deep learning to the classroom.”

Laura Ascione

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