By: Roozbeh Aliabadi
Today as many as 3 billion people are living under COVID-19 lockdown. Many students in the US and elsewhere suddenly found their classrooms and after school programs off-limits. This is an unusual, unprecedented, and unsettling set of circumstances that we are dealing with. At ReadyAI normal routines have been put aside and many of our regular activities are no longer possible.
In the past four weeks we have also been adjusting and providing free virtual classes for students and teachers and parents around the world.
Resources for AI Distance Learning
Free Virtual Classes
My colleague, Yang Cheng has been leading our free virtual classes initiative. This is what we have done but more important this is what we have learned in the past two weeks.
AI & Me (Five Big Ideas)
- Students shared what their definition of AI is and examples of AI in their lives. Some gave very good definitions
- We Talked about AI helping the fight against Covid-19 (Societal impact)
- Students shared ideas on how AI can help from various angles including robot hospital assistants and warehouse workers, and machine learning algorithms predicting the next pandemic
- Students learned about supervised learning and classification
- Trained their own machine learning model
Don’t shy away from talking about Covid-19
- Sense of “normalcy” comes from acknowledging that it is hard and unusual for you too
- Spread optimism by discussing ways AI can help
- Relate to students by sharing your stay-at-home experience (Yang’s puzzle example which she also related to machine learning)
Hard to get visual/audio feedback from students
- Large classroom means only text feedback from students (chat in Zoom)
- Makes teaching AI harder since it is already an unfamiliar subject and now we don’t have feedback on if students are following or not / Can compensate for this by taking pauses and checking in
- School teachers can do more check-ins and one-on-ones
Virtual teaching actively involves parents
- They are in touch with what students are learning so interested parents can have discussions with kids
- Allows us to develop a direct line with parents; more communication with them
During my weekly trip to the grocery store I noticed two kids on their tablets standing outside a nearby Starbucks. After I was done with my shopping I noticed them still standing there. I thought they were waiting for their parents to be picked up but they were actually doing their homework, using the free Starbucks Wi-Fi. Kiara and Elijah told me that they don’t have Internet at home so they come and stand by the Starbucks to be able to do their homework.
Children are relatively safe from COVID-19 itself, but not from the economic fallout. When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, I attended a public school. Public schools are one of the great equalizing forces in our lives, but the shift to online learning means existing inequalities matter more. Millions of children lack reliable Internet access.
The newly launched AI Education project at MIT is fascinating, timely and more relevant than ever. Its mission: “democratizing AI to enable transformative opportunities for a diverse and inclusive citizenry to participate in, benefit from, and shape our future with artificial intelligence.” We all need to be part of it.
Today as I looked at my computer screen and google analytics I saw thousands of children from 149 countries have been learning about artificial intelligence with ReadyAI. I am extremely happy to see children learning. But I can’t stop thinking about Kiara and Elijah.
I have not noticed Kiara and Elijah before because I have been looking at the world with my phone and computer screen and not with my eyes anymore.
Credit: Google News