Teaching AI to All Students

Key Points

  • Students need to explore AI and develop their own understanding of what it is and how it works. 

  • We also need to encourage students to become creators and brainstorm ideas for how AI can benefit society.


In the past two years, the amount of artificial intelligence being used in our everyday lives has increased significantly. As a result, there is a greater demand for people who have the skills to work in this field, and it will continue to lead to the creation of many more jobs according to the Jobs of Tomorrow report. Areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud computing, and cybersecurity are some of those mentioned in the report as likely to see an increase in demand for skilled workers which means that we need to do more to prepare our students for these careers and others that will evolve over time.

There are big trends for this year about how AI will impact the world of work and the skills needed. It has been predicted that artificial intelligence will automate the production of 30% of all the content available on the ​Internet this year. With the creation of smart machines and new technologies and automation, humans will be replaced with machines, which means that students need to be able to develop skills that enable them to be flexible enough to adapt as these technologies and workplace needs change over time. According to Mark Cuban, “AI will dominate the workplace and to be successful, people are going to have to understand it.” In 2019 he launched a foundation that provides AI bootcamps for free to students to learn about AI. More recently, he has been working with the Penn State Readiness Institute with the Executive Director, Dr. Justin Aglio to provide more opportunities for high school students.

AI in the world

Students are learning about AI in amazing and innovative ways. Students in Winston-Salem had an experience with AI by working with the first AI Woman of color named C.L.Ai.R.A (acronym for Create Labs Artificial Intelligence Rendered Assistant). The purpose of C.L.Ai.R.A, which has been called “most powerful AI out there” is to “help communities with their needs while representing people of color.” C.L.Ai.R.A is being developed for use in the metaverse.

Chatbots are being created and provided to middle and high school students to help with the mental health crisis. As students increasingly experienced mental health challenges such as depression during Covid, there was a heightened awareness of the need for more services for students as well as adults. Alison Darcy, a psychologist and founder of Woebot Health created a chatbot to help make mental healthcare services more accessible via an app and chatbot in 2017. A high school student used the app for a week and felt positive effects from the experience.

Although there are many benefits offered by this technology, it is still important to consider the potential negative impacts or concerns as a result.  Natural language processing (NLP) is being used to work with people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The research being done indicated that “language analysis could help aid the provision of care for those with the condition.” However, there is a continued reminder to focus on the ethics behind the use of these technologies and also the importance of privacy.  

In education, AI is making it possible to provide more personalized learning experiences for students. By automating tasks that take teachers more time, AI facilitates these tasks so that time can be spent with students providing one-to-one feedback. Digital tools with AI integrations like Quizizz for example create a personalized learning path in response to each student’s responses and based on their needs, these benefit student learning. There are many platforms that have AI which helps to automate tasks, and provide adaptive learning and more personalized experiences for students. Students would also have access to intelligent tutoring systems through AI.

Some examples include Knewton for higher education, Nuance’s Dragon Speech recognition promotes accessibility for students because it can transcribe up to 160 words per minute and has voice commands for navigating documents with a 99% accuracy rate. Knowji is an audio-visual vocabulary app for language learners which uses algorithms to track learner progress and can anticipate when a learner is going to forget a word and can provide repetition.

Students need to explore AI and develop their own understanding of what it is and how it works.

Rachelle Dené Poth

Can we all teach about AI?

While we all have our areas of certification or specific grade levels that we teach, artificial intelligence is something that should and can be taught at all levels, regardless of a teacher’s experience in this field. We don’t have to be the expert. It’s important that we learn from our students and give them a chance to become the creators and thrive in a way that meets their specific interests and needs which leads to more authentic and meaningful learning. There are many resources available that make it easier for any educator regardless of experience or familiarity with artificial intelligence. We can provide learning activities for students, even on a short-term basis, without worrying about having specific equipment or spending a lot of money on different programs.

While it can feel uncomfortable to not necessarily know the answer to a question that students may have, especially in an area that can be quite complex like AI, we simply need to know enough to get our students started. Bringing AI into our classrooms and getting the conversation started is the most important step. From there, we have a lot of options to explore.

I have been teaching about AI in my eighth grade STEAM Emerging Technology course for the past five years. When I started, I did not know that much about AI at all. However, because I first wrote a blog about AI for Getting Smart, and dove into some research, it piqued my interest so much that I wanted to continue to learn more. Also by enrolling in the ISTE AI course provided in partnership with General Motors, I was able to build my knowledge and skillset and provide more for my students the following school year. Just having some guidance and hands-on materials helps to give us a push to take some risks and bring new learning experiences to our students and ourselves.

With so much out there to explore, it’s great to do this in partnership with our students. To get started, there are some organizations that provide everything that an educator would need to begin teaching about AI in the classroom. With topics ranging from the basics about what AI is and how it works, to definitions and examples of AI, to more complex areas like creating AI or designing a chatbot, for example.

Getting started

The first step should be in helping students to define and understand what artificial intelligence is. By reviewing the resources available through AI4ALL or AI4K12, educators can find a wealth of information. There are videos from Crash Course AI that can be shown and discussed, which is a great way to get students thinking about AI. Or we can simply start with a question to ask students how they would define AI or what they think of when they hear “AI”? We can also exchange ideas about where we see AI being used in everyday life and where is AI making an impact and how. Beyond covering the basics, it is important to also open the conversation to any concerns that may exist around AI whether related to bias and ethics or safety.

Six Resources to Explore

AIClub offers a variety of courses for students as well as a lot of free resources for educators to choose from to get started. There are also PD sessions for teachers to sign up to learn more.

AI4K12 is a great resource to spark curiosity for learning about AI and has resources and is developing guidelines for AI curriculum for use in grades K through 12.

DayofAI org launched the first-ever Day of AI on May 13th. It was a day for classrooms around the world to participate in learning about AI through a variety of resources provided for teachers from MIT. Teachers can receive lesson plans and videos for all grade levels.

Google AI Experiments Google offers a lot of wonderful experiments based on AI and machine learning that students can interact with. Students also can create their own experiments and submit them to Google for possible inclusion on the site.  

Human vs AI Test A fun activity to try with students that have you decide whether art, music, writing or photos were created by a human or AI.

Wombo Dream With this site, you can create art that is generated through artificial intelligence by choosing a prompt and art style, and a work of art is created which can also be purchased. With Wombo AI, an AI-powered Lip Sync, you take a selfie, it scans your face and merges your face with that of the singer. Even if students are wearing a mask, it still layers your face onto the singer with facial expressions and movements.

There are also virtual summer camps available for students that vary depending on length and cost of the program. Code Connects has summer camps available on topics like Emerging Tech and AI and Big Data. AICamp has a three-week summer camp available for students ages 13-18 which is focused on AI and a one-week camp on data science. AIClub also offers summer camps for students in grades 4 through 12.

Preparing means starting today

Students need to explore AI and develop their own understanding of what it is and how it works. We also need to encourage students to become creators and brainstorm ideas for how AI can benefit society. Students as young as pre-K can begin learning about AI through the resources listed above. Giving students access to hands-on learning activities or engaging in conversations about AI and then coming up with their own ideas will have many benefits. We need to give students the chance to try something, fail at it, adapt, and then set new goals.

Rachelle Dené Poth

Rachelle Dené Poth is a Spanish and STEAM: Emerging Technology teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, and the author of seven books, her most recent Things I Wish [...] Knew includes stories from 50 educators. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator. Follow Rachelle's blog at www.Rdene915.com.

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1 Comment

Veena Reddy

Yes, students need to be given access to various kinds of tools & resources related to AI. By making them understand the benefits that come with it and how much it can make their life easier and more insightful I'm sure everyone will look forward to it.

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