Can machines see or hear? How does ChatGPT work? Does a robot know what is right or wrong? These are just a sample of all the issues raised by the project AI Classroom: Introducing Artificial Intelligence in Primary Education at the University of Alicante (UA). This project, financed by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), dependent on the Ministry of Science and Innovation, makes available to students and teachers in the third cycle of Primary Education (between 10 and 12 years old) teaching materials for training in aspects related to AI such as its technical foundationsits impact on today’s society, as well as its ethical and moral implications.
«These types of technologies are increasingly present in our lives, for example, through virtual assistants in the home like Alexa or tools like ChatGPT, and It is foreseeable that in the near future the expansion of AI will imply a drastic transformation in many of the jobs that we now know especially affecting today’s boys and girls,” explains the professor of the Department of Computer Languages and Systems of the UA and promoter of the Aula IA project, David Tomás.
What is the objective of this project to introduce artificial intelligence in classrooms?
With this approach of AI to primary classrooms, the aim is to promote scientific-technological literacy among schoolchildren and teachers, promoting the interest of students from an early age in studies in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through the direct application of AI tools to activities in their closest environment. «We search in this way promote the incorporation of students both into higher cycles of formal training and into their future professional lifehighlighting the social and economic usefulness of science and technology,” highlights David Tomás.
Within the framework of this project, a set of teaching materials on different aspects of AI that are available online for free access and use through the website www.aulaia.es. “Right now a good part of the content is already available, which will continue to be updated over the coming months given that these technologies evolve very quickly,” explains the person responsible for the project.
These materials include a set of activities and a series of introductory videos on AI that describe both its technical aspects and its economic and social implications. “Although the target audience for these activities and videos are third-cycle primary school students and teachers, their contents are suitable for the general public,” adds David Tomás.
Throughout the execution of the Aula IA project, more than 400 schoolchildren and 50 teachers from a dozen centers in Alicante, Elche, Ibi and Villena have participated in practical and training sessions. «The result of these sessions has been very positive on the part of the little ones and their teachers and they have served to adjust the materials that can now be consulted on the project website. Our goal now is to be able to continue with the sessions and training, expand content and bring AI closer to the entire population in a positive way,” says the UA professor.
AI Classroom: Introducing Artificial Intelligence in Primary Education, developed at the University Institute of Computer Research and led by David Tomás, has the participation of a wide list of professors from the University of Alicante such as Cristina Cachero, from the Department of Languages and Systems Computer scientists, Francisco Pujol, from the Department of Information Technology and Computing, and María Dolores de Juan, from the Marketing Department, as well as María del Pilar Barra, professor from the Department of Tourism at the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, and the primary school teachers María Inmaculada Caruana, from the CEIP Bec de l’Àguila (San Vicente del Raspeig), and José María Cuesta, from the CEIP Mediterráneo (Alicante).