By Cynthia Breazeal, Safinah Ali, and Nisha Devasia, Personal Robots group
In light of recent events surrounding COVID-19, K-12 learning looks very different than it did a month ago. We understand that turning living rooms into classrooms can be overwhelming for parents and educators.
With this in mind, a team led by Media Lab professor Cynthia Breazeal has launched aieducation.mit.edu to share a variety of online resources that K-12 students can use to learn about artificial intelligence, with a focus on how to design and use it responsibly. These resources are intended to help meet the educational needs of millions of children, parents, and educators worldwide who are interested in using this time to learn about a new topic that is innovative and impactful.
The website, aieducation.mit.edu, is a collaboration between the Media Lab, the Schwarzman College of Computing, and Open Learning, and serves as a hub to highlight diverse work by faculty, staff, and students across the MIT community at the intersection of AI, learning, and education. It is a reflection of MIT’s research and outreach efforts to innovate learning and education in the era of AI. One important theme is promoting AI literacy for K-12 school children through playful, project-based learning activities organized into units for a range of AI topics.
Under Research Projects, you will find a wide range of activities, tools and programs. If your kids love robots, you might want to check out our education research projects where elementary, middle, and high schoolers get to create and program their own robots with AI-powered smarts! Maybe your children love to read—in that case, they might appreciate this interactive story about algorithmic bias. Or perhaps they enjoy playing with animated characters, like this adorable alien, to learn about conversational AI. Or they might be a budding artist, in which case, check out these creative activities where children can use artificial intelligence algorithms to create artwork. They can learn how to build and train their robots or even make them draw. And so much more! Check out the projects in the Learning Units section for those that have been successfully piloted with students and/or teachers.
The activities are designed in the constructionist tradition, where learning occurs through making and sharing computational projects that incorporate elements of AI. Children are also encouraged to practice computational action, which entails designing projects to help others and their community. By doing so, we aim to encourage children’s creativity, critical thinking, and empathy as they reflect on the ethics and societal impact of their designs. Supporting materials are also provided for use in classrooms, after school programs, or even at home; they are a combination of plugged and unplugged activities to support those with different levels of access to technology. The website also includes a variety of external resources and outreach programs compiled by us and our collaborators. Many of our outreach collaborators share our commitment to fostering inclusivity, diversity, and access.
As computers continue to automate more and more routine tasks, inequity of education remains a significant barrier to future opportunities, where success depends increasingly on intellect, creativity, social skills, and having specific skills and knowledge. This accelerating change raises the critical question of how to best prepare students, from children to lifelong learners, to succeed and flourish in the era of AI.
This website will be a center for the latest research and most up-to-date activities, tools, interactives, learning units, and more! We understand that now, more than ever, the democratization of online learning, as well as the availability of a wide range of learning resources, is crucial to the success of students all around the world.
For any questions, comments, or feedback, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear what you have to say!
In the meantime, get started with some fun AI learning activities and resources on the website at aieducation.mit.edu—and have fun!