The University of Florida has taken some of the first steps in its Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiative by creating an AI curriculum directed at K-12 students that offers AI lessons to UF students, among various other measures.
AI is a technology that helps people make their decisions, said David Reed, UF Vice President for Strategic Initiatives.
“You’re using artificial intelligence when you use facial recognition to unlock your phone,” Reed said. “You use it when Amazon anticipates products you might want to buy. Self-driving cars use it when it determines that the traffic light turns from green to yellow, to red and starts slowing the car for you.”
UF has attached great importance to its Artificial Intelligence initiative, not only in the field of computer science, but at the university level. Reed said AI is beginning to become the forefront of many industries.
“The reason for that is because it is applied in all these different disciplines,” he said. “It made sense to start training people in AI across the university.”
One part of the initiative was to create AI classes that students of any discipline could take. Hannah Quintal, a UF student who took these classes, said she is happy that UF is focusing so heavily on artificial intelligence.
She said, “I love him.” “It’s just very forward thinking. They are trying to be a part of this new interdisciplinary field that is going to be very important, and a very good fit for any of our jobs.”
These AI classes are not a requirement for a degree or “to earn a degree” but simply so that UF students can gain long-term knowledge of AI.
“They make it accessible to people of any discipline, any minor, and only people who are interested or (those who) do not know they have an interest in AI,” she said.
Besides classes on campus, UF fellows and students within the Departments of Educational Technology and Computer Science have developed a curriculum for young students to get the basics of artificial intelligence.
Maya Israel, associate professor of K-12 education technology and computer science education, said the goal in developing this education is for young students to learn about AI through technology they are already familiar with, such as Amazon Alexa products and Google Home.
“AI affects a lot of what we do,” she said. “For children to be able to navigate a world that is often informed by artificial intelligence, it is important for them to be able to make sense of it.”
Israel said her lab at the College of Education focused on the curriculum aspect of the project, while Kristi Boyer, a professor in the computer science department, worked on the front in her lab.
Both Israel and Boyer have led AI learning sessions for the past two years at local summer camps, where UF students teach middle school students the basics of AI through their program, called AMBY (AI Made By You).
“They were able to create chatbots whatever they wanted,” Israel said. “Create some [chatbots] He would give fashion tips, provide historical facts, or talk about sports. They were able to program the Google Home to say things like, “Hey Google, tell me where to buy shoes,” or “Hey Google, tell me facts about this basketball player.”
Quintal said she wished she had the opportunity to take the lessons created by Israel and Boyer when she was younger.
“I really think AI is something everyone will need to know, especially for people in middle schools, even elementary schools,” Quintal said. “Artificial intelligence will be more relevant to them.”