AI In The Classroom: New Australian Curriculum Resource To Teach Kids AI Basics

AI In The Classroom: New Australian Curriculum Resource To Teach Kids AI Basics

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (the ACARA) has issued a resource on AI for teaching kids about the benefits and the risks of the hot tech topic, with assistance offered for teaching lessons about generative AI, large language models, and chatbots in education.

In a blog post, ACARA said learning about AI by applying the Australian Curriculum to real-world contexts “increases students’ awareness and provides opportunities to realise its potential and limitations.”

“The three dimensions (learning areas, general capabilities, and cross-curriculum priorities) provide the essential learning necessary to understand what AI is, how it works and how it can be used responsibly.”

According to ACARA, AI can be taught and learned about in a variety of ways. In technology-adjacent curriculums, for example, the overarching elements of AI are taught, relating to data, computational thinking, and systems thinking. In Maths, AI can be taught through algebra, measurement, space, statistics and probability.

“The learning areas of mathematics, technologies and the subject digital technologies; the general capabilities of digital literacy, ethical understanding, critical and creative thinking, and numeracy; together with the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability to support students’ responsible use and application of AI,” ACARA added.

So, that’s all well and good. There’s no class propping up anywhere called ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Instead, AI is being encouraged into the curriculum through ethical considerations via practical means. As noted by The Australian, there are even considerations in place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and respecting their cultures and art to mitigate the risk of offensive content.

But how is this best communicated to teachers? Well, that’s where ACARA’s new resource, the AI ‘Curriculum Connection’, comes into play – and it’s already started to help teachers in the classroom, per The West Australian.

“As a mathematics teacher, I look for real-world applications and the Curriculum Connections Mapping documents made it easy for me to connect the Mathematics Curriculum to the mathematics that underpins AI technologies.” Western Australian teacher Donna Buckley said. She was also the recipient of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools and helped guide the resource’s development.

ACARA’s Acting CEO Stephen Gniel said AI technologies have the “potential” to improve teaching and learning opportunities for students and provide enormous benefits for education.

“But we also need to educate children in how to stay safe as they use these technologies.

“That’s why ACARA has taken a leading role on this issue by developing a new resource to help our teachers equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to understand the challenges, opportunities and risks of AI. It provides an opportunity for young Australians to learn what AI is, how it works and how to use it responsibly and ethically.”

And some of the ways in which kids will be taught AI are kind of cute. In Years 1 and 2, for example, the resource says that movement of robots, automated systems and autonomous vehicles could be a good place to start as they become more spatially aware.

Honestly, this seems like a really good idea. The implications of AI are, frankly, scary, and kids should be taught from a young age about the risks that are arising even now from the technology. Hopefully, our education system can catch up quickly before too many people are caught off guard by forms of misinformation and disinformation, from things like AI-generated videos and images.

Image: iStock

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