Read AIEDU’s Public Comment to the Ohio Department of Education

Last month, The AIEDU was invited to sit on an advisory group that is working on the state of Ohio’s strategy to revise its Computer Science Learning Standards. As part of that workstream, we submitted a public comment articulating our view about why it’s so important to include fundamental AI literacy as part of these revised standards. That full comment, along with the signatories from our network, is below.

+++

The AI Education Project (AIEDU) believes that learning basic information about artificial intelligence (AI) should be a fundamental part of every student’s education, and that there is a clear pathway to scaling curriculum through some revisions to Ohio’s learning standards, in particular computer science.

For the purposes of this document, we define artificial intelligence as computer systems that perform tasks or make decisions that usually require human intelligence, and AI literacy as the knowledge and skills that a person needs to understand, use, and critically evaluate artificial intelligence. A person who is AI literate can effectively engage with AI tools even without understanding the technical details of how they are built.

The ‘why’ behind AI literacy is clear: economists and technologists say that as many as half of all jobs are at risk of being impacted by AI and automation in the next decade. This means upcoming opportunities and career pathways will be very different from those to which our education system is currently oriented. How can we possibly expect students to be inspired and capable to pursue resilient, high-potential, and technology-enabled career pathways if they lack important information about what the future will look like?

This question reveals the imperative of equipping every student in Ohio with AI literacy. Any future where students have equitable opportunities to succeed is a future where students have equitable access to learning about all of the ways ‘the new electricity’ will impact their lives and work.

Ohio has the opportunity to pioneer a solution to this challenge by updating Ohio’s Computer Science Learning Standards to include foundational AI literacy. We need a new category: “Artificial Intelligence,” which could include technical learning standards envisioned by the AI4K12 team, non-technical standards focused on career exploration (how will AI alter the jobs landscape and future of work?), and standards focused on the ways that AI will impact students personally (thereby addressing digital citizenship, online safety, and social-emotional learning).

Amidst a global shortage of technology talent, AI literacy can provide technology curricula even for those schools and districts with limited access to CS educators. By way of example, AIEDU’s 20-hour curriculum has been facilitated by Art Teachers, English Teachers, and History Teachers, in addition to STEM and CTE instructors. Given the fact that AI literacy does not require technical prerequisites, it can be easily integrated into core classes (including those above) with minimal teacher training. The growth of AIEDU following our launch speaks for itself, developing from a 300-student pilot in Akron to reach over 30,000 students across nine states.

The quest to bring AI education and 21st century career exploration to non-STEM classes is critical to inspiring historically underrepresented students to pursue technology-enabled careers. This is in large part because access to Computer Science education is strongly correlated to a school’s socioeconomic and racial demographics. According to Code.org’s 2020 State of Computer Science report, only 42% of high schools offer CS courses, and Black students in Ohio are 1.5 times less likely than their white and Asian peers to attend a school that offers AP CS, and 2 times less likely to take an AP CS exam when they attend a school that offers it.

These numbers belie the Herculean efforts that have been underway for decades to make CS more accessible. This is in large part because it is hard to source and keep CS teachers, presenting budgetary and personnel challenges that low-income schools are structurally disadvantaged in addressing. It can take months of in-depth training for teachers to become comfortable enough to be able to facilitate a CS course, and this naturally makes CS training hard to provide to teachers who are already stretched beyond their means.

While centralized, virtual curricula is no substitute for well-supported and fully trained CS faculty, foundational AI education can take place in schools that don’t yet have the means to provide CS classes, and those whose CS classes do not yet have AI in the curriculum. We can use this to bridge the gap and ensure that all students in Ohio have the opportunity to be exposed to careers of the future. Furthermore, AI literacy education can inspire students who don’t traditionally pursue CS, because AI has use cases across the Arts and Humanities in addition to the Sciences; AI also has potential social impacts that may energize future social scientists. AI education thus can serve as a bridge to help prepare diverse students for the future and encourage them to seek out CS opportunities as they become available.

In closing, we would point to recent polling released in October 2021 which shows that there is broad, bipartisan, pan-generational support for investing in AI education. The survey, for which Morning Consult interviewed 2,200 adults between October 2 and 5, 2021, found that 74 percent of adults support investment in AI education. This strong support persists across every age group, political party, and income level — from Democrats to Republicans; GenZers to Baby Boomers; low-income to the wealthy.

SIGNATORIES

Note: All of the below signatories are signing onto this comment in their personal capacities, and do not represent their respective organizations.

Alex Kotran

Co-Founder & CEO, The AI Education Project

Ehrik Aldana

Co-Founder & COO, The AI Education Project

Ora D. Tanner

Co-Founder, The AI Education Project

Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Cambiar Education

Marcus Brauchli

Co-Founder of North Base Media

Advisor, The AI Education Project

Julia Brickell

Lecturer on Law & Technology, Columbia University

Board Secretary, The AI Education Project

Michael Kanaan

Author of “T-Minus AI”

Dr. Nathan W. Fisk

Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Education

Florida Cyber Community & Outreach Director

University of South Florida

Dr. Karina Alexanyan

CEO/Founder Humanication.io

Advisor, AIEDU

Eric Redmond

Sr Director, Tech Innovation Office, Nike

Author, “Deep Tech”

Joan Wade

Executive Director,

The Association of Educational Service Agencies

Austin Carson

Founder and President

Seed AI

Sandro Olivieri

Co-Founder and CEO

Project FoundED

Devaki Raj

Co-Founder and CEO

CrowdAI

Jafer Ahmad

Head of Government Affairs

CrowdAI

Bry Breckenridge

Head of Impact

Snyk

Amy Mandrier

Co-Founder

Project FoundED

Armen Meyer

Head of Public Policy

Lending Club

--

--

--

The AI Education Project makes AI literacy accessible by providing engaging online curriculum that addresses the general knowledge and skills needed to be informed citizens and workers. We use Medium to share updates and write about relevant content.

Recommended from Medium

Create and Sell Online Coaching Courses from ViDU LMS Software

so you want to science

+Student +Academic @Success **Center https://tinyurl.com/ybxye7l2

Classroom Management

KSBL SiMERGE 2019

Artificial Intelligence in Education

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alex Kotran

Alex Kotran

Co-Founder of The AI Education Project

More from Medium

Dangers and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence

Breaking gender bias for a more diverse and equitable Datasphere

Overview of Consumer Engineering at Ethos

Can open science communities fill the gaps in research and innovation in Africa?