Why Computer Science Classes Should Double Down on AI and Data Science

If you don’t know, artificial intelligence And data science may seem like a particularly nerdy subset of computer science’s already pocket-protector field.

But anyone who’s serious about expanding computer science education—a list that includes Fortune 500 company CEOs and policy makers on both sides of the aisle– The emphasis should be carefully on AI, in which machines are trained to perform tasks similar to what human brains can do, and data science, in which students learn to record, store, and analyze data Huh.

This means ensuring that children have access to well-designed resources to learn the subjects they teach, promoting professional development for those who teach them, providing career counselors with jobs in those areas. Providing information on how to help students advance, and more.

It is at the center of the list of mandatory recommendations. by CSforALL, an education advocacy group presented last month at the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education.

Leigh Ann DeLyser, co-founder and executive director of CSforALL, spoke with Education Week about some big picture ideas for bringing more attention to AI and data science within computer science education. Here are some important excerpts from that conversation.

Teaching computer science—including AI and data science—could help the next generation tackle big social problems.

These are the tools that will give students the best chance to meet challenges in areas such as health care and climate change.

“Our world is complex and messy and full of big problems,” Delisser said. AI and data science are fast-growing fields when it comes to employment, but “they’re also the fastest-growing tools that businesses, nonprofits, and governments are using every single day. No matter what.” What do you do in life, if you want to tackle the big problems facing us in the world, you need to understand these things and how they can be used, even if you are not the programmer who is writing the code. who lets them go.”

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Students from all different backgrounds must obtain a grounding in computer science.

It is particularly important to increase socio-economic, racial and gender diversity in the region.

“Research shows that teams with different backgrounds are better problem solvers because they think about problems in different ways,” Deliser said. “When everyone comes in with the same point of view, you miss out on some ideas or big challenges along the way. … We [want to] Provide equal access, no matter what the zip code [students] They grow up in those high-paying careers and opportunities later in life. ,

There are already good models of how to teach AI and data-science.

DeLyser said that if you know where to look, it’s possible that school districts are already using it well. “Often, we frame [computer science access] As a story of loss. Nothing is happening in education, or education is failing.”

But it is not so, she said. For example, the larger Gwinnett County school district outside Atlanta is getting ready to open a high school that will focus on artificial intelligence. And in Bentonville, Ark., where Walmart is headquartered, local high school students who intern with the company get to see first-hand how the retail giant uses AI to configure store layouts, turning a profit. towards maximization.

It is never too early to start teaching artificial intelligence.

Believe it or not, young children like kindergarten or preschool can be familiar with the basics of AI, Delisser said.

“AI is pattern recognition. Pattern recognition is one of the most important prerequisite skills for the development of algebra and math for children in kindergarten and even preschool. ‘It’s a circle, it’s a square,'” Delisser Said. Teaching AI “they have to learn that they are doing just one step ahead of pattern recognition. It’s like, well, ‘I’m going to teach you, you’re going to teach a friend. Now I am going to teach computer.’ It’s not too far from what they’re already doing.”

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