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New resource for teachers to support students in understanding AI

A new online resource for teachers to help students develop their understanding of how artificial intelligence (AI) works, the elements that comprise it, and its responsible and ethical use has been developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

The new ‘Curriculum Connection’ resource means teachers will now be better equipped to teach about AI through the Australian Curriculum, covering the learning areas of Mathematics and Technologies, the general capabilities of Digital Literacy, Ethical Understanding, Critical and Creative Thinking, Numeracy and Literacy and the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability.

“Artificial intelligence is already an indispensable part of our lives and embedded into the digital tools people use every day,” ACARA’s Acting CEO Stephen Gniel said.

Stephen Gniel. Image: ACARA

“AI technologies have the potential to improve teaching and learning opportunities for students and provide enormous benefits for education, but we also need to educate children in how to stay safe as they use these technologies.”

He continued: “That’s why ACARA has taken a leading role on this issue by developing a new resource to help our teachers equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to understand the challenges, opportunities and risks of AI. It provides an opportunity for young Australians to learn what AI is, how it works and how to use it responsibly and ethically.”

Developed in partnership with academic and teaching specialists in the AI field, the resource allows teachers and educators to develop age-appropriate learning programs based on the Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0, across a range of subjects and progression of learning from Foundation right through to Year 10.

The Curriculum Connection – Artificial Intelligence aims to equip young Australians with recognising the importance of:

  • understanding how AI technologies work, helping them to better navigate their use and recognising their limitations;
  • understanding the different types of AI (digital tools and AI systems) and their purpose, design and uses;
  • understanding about the responsible use and application of AI; and
  • critically evaluating the broader impact of AI on society and reflecting on the ethical complexities of using AI.

In addition, the new Curriculum Connection also links educators to a range of resources that have been developed to support teaching students about the concepts, skills and general capabilities necessary to understand and effectively use applications of AI or design future AI systems.

Ms Donna Buckley, Mathematics and Cybersecurity teacher at John Curtin College of the Arts in Western Australia and the recipient of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools, was one of the key AI experts involved in developing this resource.

“I love this new Curriculum Connections resource on AI because it takes a holistic look at wellbeing and empowers young people to be prepared for healthy lives in the digital age,” Ms Buckley said.

“As a mathematics teacher, I look for real-world applications and the Curriculum Connections Mapping documents made it easy for me to connect the Mathematics Curriculum to the mathematics that underpins AI technologies.”

Another expert involved in the resource’s development was Ms Erica Southgate, Associate Professor of Emerging Technology for Education, University of Newcastle.

“The new Curriculum Connection on artificial intelligence offers teachers a timely, accessible, and evidence-informed resource to build their practical knowledge of AI in the classroom. It is a great first step in supporting teachers to empower their students to successfully navigate an AI world,” she said.

AI consultant, author, and former teacher Mr Leon Furze, who is currently studying his PhD in the implications of Generative AI on writing instruction and education, also welcomed the new resource.

“The Curriculum Connection on artificial intelligence provides clear definitions for educators and links to existing curricula from F-10, supporting teachers in Mathematics and Digital Technologies, and all teachers through the General Capabilities. It brings together excellent resources for educators, students, and parents, and is aligned to the Australian Framework for Generative AI in Schools,” he said.

Part of ACARA’s new Curriculum Connections project, the online resource enables educators to filter information on conceptual themes from within the Australian Curriculum by year level, learning area, general capability or cross-curriculum priority. Other topics also released in this phase are outdoor learning, food and fibre and food and wellbeing, bringing content in line with the new Version 9.0 Australian Curriculum.

The Curriculum Connection – Artificial Intelligence is available on the resources section of the Australian Curriculum website: https://v9.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources

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