Middle and high school teachers looking to expand their computer science (CS) offerings should also consider teaching about theemerging technologiesimpacting multiple industries to create awareness for learners about lucrative career opportunities involvingartificial intelligence (AI) skills.AIrefers to systems or machines that, like humans, use intelligence to perform tasks and, through repetition, can improve themselves based on collected data.
The World Economic Forumlists AI and machine-learning specialists second on the list of jobs with increasing demand.
AI jobs are plenty, but there are not enough qualified applicants to fill them.
AI professionals can typically earn well over six figures.
AI jobs and careers are flexible and can include full-time or part-time consultants, researchers, and entrepreneurs.
If teaching about AI and how it impacts other fields feels like a big undertaking, no worries! Even those licensed to teach CS (like me) must expand their skill sets regularly.
Like the higher-order thinking skill sets you already teach in your classes, CS skills are earned with time, practice, and repetition. The only requirement is to make up our minds to begin by implementing a mix of research and hands-on experiences that introduce kids to howAI worksin other related technologies, such asmachine learning (ML), gaming and electronic sports (esports), andblockchain technology.
For example, teachers may useesportsas an engagement vehicle to teach students howAI impacts gaming. Esports is a form of competitive video gaming with a vast ecosystem, including game publishers, streaming platforms, products, leagues, and competitive events.
In addition to helping them understand AI through adaptive-gaming experiences, exposure to learning through esports may inspire students to pursue opportunities inhigher educationand expand their knowledge base to monetize their passion. My son became so skilled at gaming that he eventually became a Twitch affiliate—which became his first job and allowed him to earn income from his room while still in high school.
Think of how many students could be set on a path to employable skills and passion-aligned learning if they were jump-started at school.
Here’s how we can expand our teaching about AI-related content.
Explore AI and How it Works
AI personalizes recommendations to online users based on their previous searches, purchases, or other behavior patterns. To improve kids’ understanding of how AI is used to solve problems across various fields, teachers can have kids complete an activity onInnovations in AI Research—created by Code.org. Topics may include computer vision–based assistive technology, health care, the environment, robots, art, and employment.
Introduction to AI Labprovides five hands-on activities for learners to explore using the lab to train machine-learning models to recognize shapes and recommend different food items to a restaurant. Here arefive more AI activitiesyou can incorporate into AI learning, designed by Create and Learn, an organization providing K–12 CS online courses.
Additionally, esports isan excellent way for students to learn about how AI-powered coaching appscan assist gamers by suggesting better strategies to players for improving their skills. Gaming skills can be utilized for employment, preparing for competitive events, sponsorship deals, and going to college now that esports is officially a sanctioned high school and collegiate sport.
Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI that enables computers to learn without humans programming them. It leverages AI power inside apps like language translators, social media algorithms, and streaming services to suggest shows you may like. ML also can improve our lives in different ways—such as predicting andrecommending the best routes to Uber driversand helpinghealthcare and life science organizationsuse their health data more effectively.
To help kids get comfortable learning about the various types of ML and then create their own ML app, here are three powerful, adaptable lessons by Code.org:
Blockchain is being touted in some spaces as thefuture of the internet(Web3) and can be paired with AI to store and distribute AI models to improve data security and reliable audit trails. Blockchain is a new and emerging technology withgrowing demand for software engineerswho know how to leverage the power of blockchain to validate and record digital transactions through the exchange of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.Digital currenciesserve as a medium of exchange.
Since blockchain is new, consensus on how to teach it is still developing.AACSB International, a global association connecting schools with businesses to develop skilled leaders, recommends teaching learners how blockchain works and when and when not to apply it. They recommend having kids explore the guiding question, “Do we even need blockchain technology in this context?” during case studies and projects.
For teachers new at trying their hand at AI-related content, I recommend front-loading the major concepts outlined in this article and trying out the linked lessons yourself before doing so with students. That will help you determine and anticipate where they may get stuck during classwork.
Special acknowledgment to some of the organizations and educators who work hard to bring important CS and edtech skills to schools everywhere: Code.org, theCSTA, Brian Aspinall, Yaritza Villalba, Michelle Moore, Regina Schaffer, Tara Linney, Victoria Thompson, Shaina Glass, Coach Victor Hicks, Leon Tynes, Jaime Donally, The Tech Rabbi Michael Cohen, Rachelle Dené Poth, Melody McAllister, Sumreen Asim, David Lockett, Stacey Roshan, Dr. Sarah Thomas, and countless others.
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