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Artificial intelligence for early childhood education and Artificial intelligence now!

In the fall of 2022, the Innokas Network launched two projects funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education: Ready, set, go! Artificial intelligence for early childhood education and Artificial intelligence now! The projects will develop methods and materials to support the digital competences of children and young people from the perspective of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence (AI) is viewed in the projects as a phenomenon, a subject of learning and a tool for learning. The projects are coordinated and organized by the city of Lohja in cooperation with the Innokas network team at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the University of Helsinki.

In the project a group of curious teachers began to work together to discover what teaching and learning about and with AI in school and early childhood education could be. Through shared discussions, teaching experiments, information searches, and jointly exploring the topic with students, this phenomenon began to unfold. Progress was by no means linear but rather winding and exploratory. Topics were revisited, and previous understanding was updated. Creating something new requires such nonlinear progression. Through discussions and experiments conducted by project teachers, understanding and thinking were expanded, resulting in increasingly new creative ideas and experiments.

As the project progressed, discussions about artificial intelligence as a phenomenon became solution-oriented and dialogic. Ways of using artificial intelligence as a learning tool, as an aid to learning, and as an enabler of new creative activities have been discovered. Tangibly, this is evident in the creative projects initiated by project teachers in their classrooms.

The project is developing methods and tools for understanding the phenomenon of artificial intelligence from early childhood education to upper secondary school. Concrete tools include an artificial intelligence map and numerous learning materials. With the map, teachers and their groups can delve into questions about artificial intelligence. Along the way, there are checkpoints where preliminary answers to questions are provided, encouragement to seek further information is given, and inspiring teaching tips of varying complexity on how to learn more about the topic are provided.

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