8 tips for introducing AI education to the classroom

The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our daily lives is expanding rapidly, and educating students on AI literacy has never been more important.

Educators play a pivotal role in equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to confidently navigate our increasingly tech-driven workforce, as well as empowering students to think critically about the importance and impact of responsible and inclusive AI design.

Here are eight tips for introducing AI education to the classroom so that you can help inspire and excite our future generations of creators and innovators.

1. Introduce AI at an early age

On the surface, AI might seem too complex for young minds. However, just as we learn the foundations of mathematics and science early in our school career, introducing basic AI concepts at a young age allows students to recognise and understand their relationship with AI in their daily lives. It also provides the building blocks for important STEM skills like pattern recognition and problem-solving. Even in small doses, early exposure to AI concepts will lay the groundwork for a lifelong understanding of AI principles.

2. Start with the basics

Regardless of how engaged and efficient students seem to be with using technology, it is essential to start with the basics. Start by explaining what AI is, in the simplest terms, and the core concepts of AI. 

For example, our learning materials for Years 5 and 6 students focus on teaching students:

  • A basic understanding of what artificial intelligence is
  • How machines can gain intelligence
  • What a dataset and an algorithm are
  • How to train a machine to identify images
  • How machines can be biased and discuss what can be done about that.
 

Building a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts of AI ensures that students will be able to better grasp advanced AI concepts as they progress in their education.

3. Use relatable real-life examples

Bring pen-and-paper concepts to life by providing tangible examples of how students can and do interact with AI in their daily lives.

Think: voice-activated smart assistants like Siri or Alexa, recommendation algorithms on streaming platforms, navigation tools like Google Maps, and of course, social media apps.

Discussing these examples helps students make connections between theoretical concepts and the things they see and use in the real world each day, and will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the importance and power of AI.

4. Include fun hands-on activities

Not only are hands-on activities a powerful tool for enhancing learning experiences but allowing students to design, build, test and engage with AI technology will provide valuable opportunities to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Image: Our Quick Draw activity was a huge success at our 2023 Day of AI.

5. Teach students about the ethical implications of AI

Students must be educated and empowered to think critically about the importance and impact of responsible and inclusive AI design.

This could include discussing bias in AI algorithms, concerns about data privacy and the ethical responsibility of AI developers, as well as providing hands-on activities that allow students to think critically about ethical AI use and consider how they would ensure AI is benefiting everyone equally.

Ethical AI use is a staple in our teaching materials for all ages. We also recently created a module for Australia’s Month of AI on AI in Society, aimed at helping students recognise who makes decisions about AI technology in their local communities and empowering them to contribute to the conversation. You can access the free AI in Society module here.

6. Revise regularly to keep your teaching materials up to date

AI technology is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace with no signs of slowing down. To keep up with the dynamic AI landscape, it’s a good idea to review learning materials regularly and incorporate any new advancements and relevant case studies.

7. Promote women in STEM

According to the state of STEM gender equity in 2022, women only make up 36% of enrolments in university STEM courses and just 16% of enrolments in vocational STEM courses. Encouraging female students to pursue STEM careers is imperative if we want to promote an inclusive and diverse digitech workforce.

Promoting women in STEM and their achievements is a proven way to empower female students to explore tech-related fields and build confidence in developing their STEM skills. Consider showcasing the contributions and success stories of women in AI, organising guest lectures, and excursions to tech companies or AI-themed events where women will be speaking or prominently featured.

Image: Stela Solar, Director ​​of the National AI Centre, CSIRO visiting a participating school during the Day of AI 2023.

8. Utilise free resources

There are numerous engaging, high-quality AI education resources available, many of which are free.

Digital Technologies Hub by Education Services Australia offer free lesson ideas that you can incorporate into your teaching plan.

If you are interested in a more structured and comprehensive set of learning materials, the Day of AI is a free, full day of learning that has been developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), i2Learning, CS in Schools and UNSW to introduce students to the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a world that will be powered by AI.

Over 100,000 students in Years 5-10 registered for our 2023 offering, and our 2024 Day of AI is set to be bigger and better than ever before.

Register now for the Day of AI 2024 and bring your students an introduction to AI they’ll never forget.