The newest generation of children is growing up with Artificial Intelligence. It is safe to say that, by the time they reach kindergarten, they’ll likely have been chatting to Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant for years.
As we steer ourselves towards a technology-first world where AI will become more and more ubiquitous in our daily lives, the AI4K12 Initiative poses very valid questions and propositions about including AI in K-12 curriculums.
The AI4K12 Initiative in Brief
Taking inspiration from the CSTA standards of computing education, the AI4K12 board seeks to develop national guidelines for teaching Artificial Intelligence at the K-12 level in the US. They do this recognising the increasingly prominent role that AI is playing in society, from self-driven cars to smart assistants.
The guidelines outline what children must know about AI and what they must be able to do after a certain age. The initiative hopes to round up AI resources for K-12 teachers to familiarise themselves. It also seeks to foster a community for resource developers to have steady support.
The initiative focuses on 5 “Big Ideas”– perception, representation and reasoning, learning, natural interaction and societal impact. Each of these has AI-focused learning goals under them, These will serve as markers of progress and indicators of learning levels for specific age groups.
Why AI in School Curricula Is Critical for The Future
Older generations might be watching the growth of AI from the sidelines, or indeed spurring them on. But newer generations will grow up alongside AI, much like 90s children grew up with phones and 80s kids with computers. Naturally, then, it doesn’t make sense for educational systems to carry on with outdated syllabi. Curricula around the world need an immediate refresh.
There is a growing market for AI-literate workers. This will grow to cover several industries outside of machine learning and artificial intelligence. AI will disrupt the job industry and cause losses in some areas. That said, it will also create new futuristic jobs that future generations must be equipped to handle.
Teaching AI from a very young age allows younger generations to understand their surroundings and think creatively. They can then make use of the technology they have at hand to drive societal impact. In just a few short years, AI will cease to be novel and become a distinct, irreplaceable part of children’s lives.
For all children, basic knowledge and understanding of the technology that will underpin much of their world are critical to their survival and success.
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