As these teachers have come to understand, you don't have to be technically minded to introduce your students to the important concepts behind artificial intelligence. When computer science teacher Sharon Harrison wanted to introduce her eighth graders to the basic idea of artificial intelligence, she had them try out an online chatbot called Akinator, which asks the user questions to determine what historic or fictional character he or she is thinking of. In some instances, the students marveled at how quickly the program could figure out the answer. "Sometimes it would guess in three or four guesses, and we'd say, 'How on earth was it able to do that?'" From there, the discussion in this elective class at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools examined how responses to the chatbot could be sabotaged -- by responding to the questions incorrectly, and thereby "damage the integrity of the program."
One of my professional goals this year was to learn more about artificial intelligence (AI). Over the course of the past year, there have been a lot of stories coming out about how schools are adding the concept of artificial intelligence into their curriculum or trying to weave it into different courses offered. The purpose is to help students better understand its capabilities and how it might impact the future of learning and the future of work. When I did some research earlier this year, I was amazed at some of the different uses of artificial intelligence that we interact with each day, and may not realize. A quick Google search of the term "artificial intelligence" turns up 518 million results in .17
When the Montour School District launched America's first Artificial Intelligence Middle School program in the fall of 2018, many questions arose. How? (Just to name a few). But, as a student-centered and future-focused district, the thought process was not if we should teach AI, but what if we don't teach AI? Also, why isn't everyone teaching AI? Through a series of courses developed and implemented by Montour team members and partners, the AI program officially launched in October 2018. To date, hundreds of class have already been taught to students in areas of AI Ethics, AI Autonomous Robotics, AI Computer Science, and AI Music. The goal for the program is to make an all-inclusive AI program for all middle school students that is relevant and meaningful in a world where children live and prepare them for a future where they will thrive.
Teachers spend about 20% to 40% of their time--or about 13 hours a week--on activities that could be automated using technology, according to a new report on artificial intelligence by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Preparation time has the biggest potential for automation, making teachers more effective and efficient in lesson planning. For instance, adaptive math software lets teachers more quickly and accurately assess student performance, place learners in groups and provide the next assignments. Collaboration platforms, meanwhile, allow teachers to share relevant materials. "Technology has the least potential to save teacher time in areas where teachers are directly engaging with students: direct instruction and engagement, coaching and advisement, and behavioral-, social-, and emotional-skill development," the report found.
You are likely familiar with how quickly AI will soon begin to shape our classrooms. This has been the guiding idea behind a new initiative in my district that we are very excited to announce. Beginning in the fall of 2018, Montour School District will offer a new program in artificial intelligence (AI), providing students with a myriad of opportunities to explore and experience AI, using it to cultivate, nurture, and enhance initiatives aimed at increasing the public good. The new program, Montour AI, will be housed at David E. Williams Middle School. Just as AI hinges on the data collected, Montour AI's success will hinge on a collection of shared stakeholders including higher education scholars, community leaders, business executives, parents, and students.