In search of the meaning of education in the times of Artificial Intelligence

Trigger Warning: Views are personal. No offence to anyone. This post may have views radically different than yours. Please take them as a critical perspective.

NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission launched its AI curriculum in collaboration with Nasscom Foundation for Atal Tinkering Labs. While it looks good at a surface level, someone please help me to understand why are we running behind AI?

I have been into student innovation programs for a while now and I have seen the kinds of innovations coming out of them. There have been examples of brilliant ideas too but mostly it is all about using technology wherever it can be used. Frugality, reasoning, and understanding of the context of the problem are missing big time. I am not saying everything is bad. In fact, Atal Tinkering Labs and innovation programs are examples of the changing face of education. They have created fantastic infrastructure conducive for tinkering and student-led projects. They showed us that if there is a will, a number of positive things can happen in a short duration. But we should also think about how many ATLs being utilized to their full potential at the moment. What are the learning outcomes from them?

I have always been critical about the excessive use of technology. Especially the intelligent one which can make humans dumb. Force fitting technology everywhere is a bad idea I feel. It’s ok to give students exposure, experience and teach them how to use technology but at the same time, it is extremely important to tell them why to use technology, where to use it and where they must avoid using it and why. Running behind high funda technology may end up creating more problems than solving existing ones.

The facilitator’s role increases multifold if we introduce AI to children. It is the onus of the teacher and the curriculum developer to take an inquiry-based approach, to design the course in such an intelligent way that learners understand what we are learning is precious and hence we need to be responsible while using it. If there is no construction of knowledge, this kind of curriculum won’t be effective. Rather it will create more nuisance.

Running hackathons and competitions for technology innovations is a great idea but wait, have you given enough thought on why to conduct them? Who is getting benefited and how? Do participants and learners understand why they are doing what they are doing? Why are they asked to innovate using technology? There are simple questions to ask but first of all, we educators need to reflect on them and understand the importance of asking the right questions. Otherwise, it will just remain another good photographed memory for students and educators to be ‘AI certified’.

*Reflection on Experience is the key to Education*

Education & Innovation | I write about people, places, thoughts and experiences

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