Workshop Sparks State Initiatives in AI Education

Byron SpiceMonday, February 8, 2021

The AI4K12 Initiative's two-day virtual conference has helped spark new K-12 artificial intelligence efforts in several states.

A two-day virtual workshop organized by the AI4K12 Initiative involving education leaders from across the country has helped spark new K-12 artificial intelligence efforts in several states, said David Touretzky, research professor in computer science.

AI4K12 is developing national guidelines for teaching AI in elementary and secondary schools as a joint project of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), with funding from the National Science Foundation. Touretzky leads the initiative along with Christina Gardner-McCune of the University of Florida and Deborah Seehorn of the CSTA.

"Since 2017 there has been a worldwide realization that we should be teaching children about artificial intelligence," Touretzky said. "We need to prepare our youth for the huge societal changes coming from technologies such as intelligent assistants and self-driving cars. At the same time, we should be encouraging students to pursue careers in these areas to help meet national workforce needs. China, the UK and the EU are already implementing AI education plans."

Several states are already updating their computing education standards to include AI, creating new AI courses and providing opportunities for teachers to become AI-fluent, he noted. The Jan. 28-29 workshop prompted several states to start working on their AI education plans or strengthen their K-12 AI leadership team, he added.

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