Strategy for the Development of AI in Poland: Education Challenges
The generation of current and future students is actually a community of so-called digital natives, people growing up and brought up in the environment of the newest digital technologies. As you can guess, the educational needs of this generation are slightly different than the needs of generations for which IT lessons were just being implemented as a “technological novelty”. In this situation, it is necessary to redefine the basic and key competences that will meet the needs of those kids and the challenges ahead them.
This problem was quickly noticed and as part of the activities of state administration. That is why Ministry of Digitization in Poland created a study called 'Assumptions for the AI strategy in Poland'.
A central challenge of this work was to establish just what to teach young people. Let's take a closer look at the conclusions and plans that the authors created.
The Ministry Point of View
The document emphasizes that users of technologies based on artificial intelligence also need appropriate competences to be able to consciously use them effectively.
Put simply: it is not enough just to be able to use AI solutions - it would be good to know how and why they work in a certain way.
Due to the automation and introduction of increasingly advanced technologies based on AI, the nature of work performed will also change, and the increase of competences necessary to support these technologies will contribute to the boost the demand for AI solutions as well.
But what are school children really taught today?
Activities carried out so far in Poland for supporting the development of digital competences include:
- teaching children programming
- algorithm creation
- logical thinking
- searching for alternative solutions to familiar problems.
However, they are insufficient due to their limited scope and application.
The backwardness in the digitization of education is becoming even more pressing in the light of the challenges associated with the development of AI. Following the widespread use of digital tools in formal education, there was no corresponding change in curricula. In addition, the use of digital technologies by students is common, but the level of ability to use it to solve problems is low.
That is why it is crucial that teachers and school leaders are supported in the process of developing competences related to AI.
Strategy is one thing, practice is another
For the development of AI in Poland, it is necessary to build and develop the competencies necessary to create solutions using AI at every stage of education.
One challenge is the lack of AI topics in school curricula. The AI Schools & Academy program created by Synerise is the answer to this challenge.
As part of the program, three curricula were created along with class scenarios. Didactic classes are carried out in over 100 educational institutions all over Poland. The pilot edition of the program was implemented in the 2019/2020 school year.
- Support for schools and teachers in conducting classes on artificial intelligence
- Filling the competency gap in the field of AI in the education system
- Increasing AI using competences by students and teachers.
The program is conducted at three levels.
The "Enter" level includes kindergartens and grades 1-3 of primary school. Its purpose is not only to introduce the youngest children to the world of programming, but above all to inspire children and encourage them to ask questions and seek answers.
The "Intermediate" level is dedicated to kids from grades 4-6 of primary school. The purpose of this program is to understand the principles of operation and the creation of artificial intelligence. Based on Scratch and IBM Watson, students will learn how to create their own solutions using artificial intelligence.
The "Master" level is directed to students in grades 7-8 of primary school and secondary schools. During classes, students will learn basic machine learning algorithms. They will learn how to implement them in Python. Thanks to this, after a series of classes, they will be able to create a program based on artificial intelligence that will solve a given problem.
By the end of the pilot program (June 2020), the implementation of 7,622 teaching hours is planned, in which 211 teachers are involved.
All facilities implementing the program at the Enter level, thanks to the support of Orange and the Photon Foundation, have been equipped with a Photon robot and tablet.
In addition, thanks to the support of PZU, a training session for teachers in cyber security took place on January 24, 2020.
What does it really look like? Let's ask the participants!
The participants of the project - students and teachers – are the best ones to tell you how important this project is and what its implementation looks like.
Let's see what they think about it:
AI Schools & Academy is a program that shows what artificial intelligence is. We experience it all the time, although we often don't even realize it. In Google AI, it drives the search engine, in Netflix and Amazon it is responsible for the recommendation system, and in Apple it takes the form of the Siri voice assistant. I would like my students to be aware of this and take on the challenges of the future. They are on the threshold of their adult life and they must soon make significant decisions about choosing their professional career. It would be good if they undertook them fully consciously and focused on what they intend to do in the future. Our school has been running mathematics and IT classes for many years, teaching about artificial intelligence is a supplement to the content of the core curriculum with needed modern knowledge.
Romualda Laskowska – Computer Science teacher
I think that we are entering a new era of civilizational progress, and therefore learning about artificial intelligence will allow me to understand the ways we use it and how we can leverage its power to our benefit. In the future, every device will be intelligent and able to collect data, thus enabling it to supply more information. I would like to participate in this at the level of a programmer implementing AI algorithms.
Szymon, first-year high school student
I would like to know what the consequences of using artificial intelligence in various fields can be. What can a robot do? I see AI everywhere: it recommends music on YouTube / Spotify, movies on Netflix, people I might know on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. I deal with it using email since it is contained in spam filters. All our online payments are verified by anomaly search systems. It is also included in the mechanisms displaying advertisements for products or services. The list of examples I mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. Until now, I was not aware of its existence. However, this is only the beginning of a lot of possibilities. Getting to know even a fragment of AI applications helps me become aware of its widespread use and possibilities it provides in gathering information. This is an extremely interesting topic for me.
Maksymilian, first-year high school student
For us, the innovative AI Schools & Academy takes us to a higher level, providing access to the latest trends in education and use of qualitative knowledge about artificial intelligence from industry leaders, presented in a clear and accessible way.
Artificial intelligence will change the world more than any technology in the past, which is why classes in the Schools & Academy program are especially important for children and youth. In addition to effectively developing digital competences, logical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills, they help with job prospects and the development of a career in the international markets of the future.
Roman Juchniewicz, Counseling Center Director
I was most surprised that artificial intelligence can recognize human faces and emotions. I learned a lot of new things in class and had a great time.
Kamila, middle school student
I really liked the programming of the robot. I also learned what artificial intelligence is and how it can be used to control a robot or a vehicle or anything else. In the future, I would like to work in a road safety company.
Krzysztof, middle school student