Lance Key is a fan of AI technology.
The award-winning educator and support specialist at the Putnam County School System in Cookeville, Tennessee, focuses on helping teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms, and has delivered hundreds of professional development presentations across the country.
He has discussed some of his favorite AI tools with me, but also says he is increasingly thinking about the application of artificial intelligence in education in a broader sense than specific tools. He believes educators should start thinking about the ways in which the technology will change the world and begin preparing their students for that from a variety of perspectives, including learning to program AI and to navigate deep fakes.
In many ways, AI reminds Key of the debut of Google in 1998 when many educators were worried that students would turn to Google for easy answers and lose the ability to think critically.
“In education, we're usually a year or two behind everything,” he says. “Unlike with Google in ‘98, I'm hoping we don't fight it [AI] for so long.”
To that end, he suggests three resources to help prepare teachers and their students for that future.
A popular computer science resource overall, Code.org offers a variety of AI-specifc lessons for teachers and students, Key says. These resources include AI 101 for Teachers -- an online series that is presented by Code.org in collaboration with ISTE, ETS, and Khan Academy.
For students, Code.org offers coding and other STEM-focused lessons designed to help students understand how technology is changing the world.
This free programming resource from Google allows students to learn about AI in one of the best ways possible, by programming their own AI tools as well as writing and executing with Python.
“It is a platform where you can write AI models for the kids to practice and learn with,” Key says. Getting under the hood of AI models, in a manner of speaking, can help students learn more about this important technology and demystify what it is doing.
This program from the Department of Defense features a variety STEM resources including after-school programs, student internships, competitions, and professional development opportunities for teachers.
Key recently participated in a DOD AI bootcamp for teachers. The training provided educators with knowledge about AI and explored some of the technology's potential in the future. One aspect of AI that Key is excited about from the training is its predictive power. For example, there are AI models in the health field being developed to help recognize cancers early. In education, AI might be able to identify students who need more support sooner.
“If we buy into it and start using it right, we can start using predictive analytics that can help us see where students are going to struggle,” Key says.