AI and making education more human - Education Matters Magazine
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AI and making education more human

AI education

In the age of artificial intelligence, where technologies like ChatGPT are becoming part of daily life, how can teachers, parents, and communities help children thrive? Marcus Veerman, CEO and Founder of Playground Ideas and Nüdel Kart, discusses the importance of helping children build valuable skills using creativity, imagination, and play.

“It is hard to understate the potential power of the new wave of artificial intelligence and the sheer number of jobs it will be capable of. So, when envisioning a future filled with AI the question is where humans will fit in and where will humans become redundant. These are the questions that should be driving the direction that teaching and learning are travelling,” says Mr Marcus Veerman, CEO and Founder of Playground Ideas.

Playground Ideas is a non-profit organisation that has supported over 6000 communities, in 143 countries, in building low-cost play and learning spaces. Mr Veerman is also the founder and designer of the educational resource, Nüdel Kart – a deconstructable loose part cart to develop creative abilities, STEM skills, and wellbeing in children.

Mr Veerman believes skills like creativity and innovation will be difficult for AI to replicate and conversely, these skills will be exactly what the next generation will need to thrive in a world powered by AI.

“Open-ended activity with peers has been shown over and over to encourage emotional intelligence, build strong relationships, help build creativity, and encourage problem-solving and critical thinking skills,” he says. “These are all critical skills humans possess that will help children thrive in an AI world because those skills are both irreplaceable and will also help children to leverage the power of AI.”

Nudel Kart-Render-Castle
Nüdel Kart was designed to help children explore ‘first principles thinking’ – the concept of breaking down a complicated problem and then reassembling it from the ground up.

EMPOWERING CHILDREN THROUGH CREATIVITY, PLAY, AND IMAGINATION

When placed in an open-ended environment, like what the Nüdel Kart provides, children will automatically engage in self-directed learning. “This kind of learning is very powerful because children learn the things that are difficult to teach in a classroom setting,” Mr Veerman says. “Numeracy and literacy can be taught from teacher to student, but more personal, social, creative, and critical thinking skills really need to be learned through direct experience and trial and error.”

According to Mr Veerman, there are several future focussed skills that children need to practise that are very effectively learnt during child led, open- ended ‘CLOE’ (pronounced CLOE-y) time:

  • Problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Ethical decision-making
Nüdel Kart is a compact mobile, loose parts cart that allows children to flex their creative musclesthrough child-led open-ended learning.

WHAT AI MEANS FOR LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

The massive jump in the power of AI has suddenly accelerated the adoption of these technologies. However, for many parents, teachers, and decision- makers this has proved challenging because AI is unregulated, unprecedented, and uncharted territory.

Following the success of ChatGPT, experts remain divided on the issue of adopting AI learning tools in the classroom. However, Mr Veerman is optimistic.

“Technology often catches people by surprise as it grows exponentially and not linearly. For example, Since the launch of ChatGPT only a month ago, Google, Siri, and Alexa, are already starting to feel outdated by comparison.”

“A Google search simply returns hundreds of thousands of different links of information. The amazing thing about AI technologies like ChatGPT is its ability to quickly aggregate that enormous amount of data into easily readable text which will only get more accurate overtime as we ask more questions, and it learns what we need.”

“In the short time I have been testing it, I have used it to answer questions for me. I have found that the answers are insightful, but never exactly what I need. So, in terms of using AI to cheat I don’t think it’s powerful enough for that, but as it becomes more prevalent, AI will encourage us all to step it up a notch. AI is an invitation for humanity to rise to be more creative, unique, and original.”

For Mr Veerman, his primary interest is on how AI will change what humans can do with it as a support.

“If AI helps us to learn and work better and faster, and it does a significant proportion of the grudge work, then humans will be freed to level up to new kinds of work, which has the potential to be far more creative, empathic, socially, focused, and human,” he says.

“It is my prediction that AI will become a powerful teaching tool in the months and years to come. As AI becomes better, the conversations that children will be able to have with it will create highly individualised opportunities for children to learn in ways like never before.”

One example he offers is the ways in which AI could be used to help people with dyslexia.

“AI can provide support to children with dyslexia and help them record and communicate their knowledge through text without them having to write the words themselves showing their actual potential. It’s also very easy to imagine how I will help to coach children how to write better and more clearly by analysing their handwriting for example,” Mr Veerman says.

“The most exciting thing for me is that this will free up children’s time to do more CLOE activities which will give them the skills to thrive – whether they utilise these new technologies, or not. I am 100 percent committed to creating the tools to help support these CLOE skills.”

ABOUT NÜDEL KART

Nüdel Kart is a compact mobile, loose parts cart that allows children to flex their creative muscles through child-led open-ended learning in an unstructured environment.

Nüdel Kart was designed to help children explore ‘first principles thinking’ – the concept of breaking down a complicated problem and then reassembling it from the ground up by nutting it out on their own, and with peers, instead of being directed by an adult. The cart was designed to teach children the value of communicating effectively, engaging in creative pursuits, solving complex problems, and adapting to new ways of thinking – all whilst cultivating positive, collaborative relationships with their peers based on human connection.

As a social enterprise, all profits from Nüdel Kart go towards empowering communities around the globe to provide children with playground environments that are stimulating and fun.

For more information, visit Nüdel Kart.com

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