Schools Using AI

global network
                                             Image:Gerd Altmann

I wrote earlier here about teaching AI in classrooms and a former colleague who read it emailed and said that I need to also consider not just how students are learning about AI but also how schools use AI.

In that earlier article, I said that many people are unaware of AI used already in their everyday lives. It's not that the AI is deliberately hidden from view (though in some cases it actually is deliberately hidden, such as with chatbots). If you use apps on a smartphone, you are using AI. If you use Google search or Gmail, you are using AI. If your car has navigation or safety features that keep you on the road, you are using AI.

In education, AI is making it possible to provide more personalized learning experiences for students. By automating tasks that take teachers more time, AI facilitates these tasks so that time can be spent with students providing one-to-one feedback. The AI can evaluate progress, analyze and make recommendations for further study. Digital tools with AI integrations can create a personalized learning path based on each student’s responses and based on their needs. There are platforms that have AI which helps to automate tasks and so can provide adaptive learning and more personalized experiences for students. Students would also have access to intelligent tutoring systems through AI.

Schools using AI administrative;y and pedagogically are more likely to see the value in having students learn in the classroom about how AI works and how it operates in their lives in and out of classrooms.

Machine Learning MOOC Updated

Python book
Photo by Christina Morillo

Andrew Ng's Machine Learning course on Coursera has been revamped and updated and it is getting good student ratings.

There are fewer online courses that I consider to be true MOOCs now. Massive is small. Open is more closed. But the "OC" portion remains for many. The three courses that make up the Machine Learning Specialization offered by DeepLearning.AI and Stanford on the Coursera platform still fit the MOOC definition more closely.

You can earn a certificate at the end, and enjoy the full experiences including quizzes and assignments if you enroll and pay a monthly subscription but the courses are free (Open) to audit and view the course materials. The Massive in this course is massive with over 20,000 students enrolled.

Andrew Ng is the co-founder of Coursera and was the founding lead of Google’s Brain Project, and served as Chief Scientist at Baidu. He then did two artificial intelligence startups - (a training company founded in 2017) and (for transforming enterprises with AI). He remains an adjunct professor at Stanford University. His course on Machine Learning was one of the very first courses from Coursera when it first launched in 2012. I audited the course that year though I knew the content was way above my abilitiees but I was curious as to the structure of the course from a design perspective.

At that time, Machine Learning was a new concept and was close to applied statistics. Ng goes way back because his Stanford lectures were on YouTube in 2008 and got 200,000 views. Then, he converted them to an online format in Fall 2011 and they were offered for free. He had 104,000 students and 13,000 of them gained certificates.

On the tech side, this updated version:
uses Python rather than Octave
expanded list of topics including modern deep learning algorithms, decision trees, and tools such as TensorFlow
new ungraded code notebooks with sample code and interactive graphs to help you visualize what an algorithm is doing
programming exercises
practical advice section on applying machine learning based on best practices from the last decade


The Return of the One-Room Schoolhouse

Traditional one-room schoolhouse Peoria, Kansas.

It's not exactly a "one-room schoolhouse" in the sense of the 19th-century place that had that label, but a new trend to "microschools" has some of that in its lineage.

The trend grew out of pandemic remote learning and school closures but also is an offshoot of K-12 homeschooling. This form of education is micro in that it serves a small student population of generally 15 students or less. There isn't a definition of a microschool that fits all the ones that might fall into the classification but they probably are all offering personalized, student-centered learning and multiple age groups in the same classroom.

There were pandemic "learning pods" created by families so that kids could learn in small groups and those might have included a trained teacher. A microschool is more official and probably registered as a school and perhaps even as a for-profit business.

So, is this just a "private school"? At 15 or less students, this is not really a business model. Then again, there are a few networks of microschoolsthat have emerged. Acton Academy has more than 250 affiliate schools in 31 states and 25 countries, with an average annual tuition of about $10,000.

There are microschools for every grade level from kindergarten through high school and even a few microcolleges. But this is a new thing, so there is still a lot to be worked out. For example, there is no one national accreditation body, so rules and regulations vary widely. A few states (West Virginia and Wisconsin) are trying to define microschools via new legislation. There are legal, financial, and pedagogical things to consider.

This isn't the same thing as starting a home school. An actual microschool will need to be registered as a business and most often as a private school. Check into your state regulations, and you'll see the complexities of licensing, attendance and things such as insurance requirements.

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