AI training for teachers: How Kerala is raising the bar in classrooms | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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AI training for teachers: How Kerala is raising the bar in classrooms

May 16, 2024 09:42 AM IST

KITE in Kochi trains 50 teachers on AI tools for education, aiming to empower 80,000 teachers statewide. Teachers excited to use AI responsibly in classrooms.

Kochi On a sultry morning, the air-conditioned hall at the regional resource centre of Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) in a quiet neighbourhood of Kochi was brimming with excitement.

AI training for teachers: How Kerala is raising the bar in classrooms
AI training for teachers: How Kerala is raising the bar in classrooms

Around 50 government secondary school teachers, mostly women, occupied half the hall, sitting on plastic chairs and crouching over their laptops, trying to finish what seemed like a crossword puzzle. At the front of the hall was a giant projection screen that displayed the working of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool adept at solving crossword puzzles within minutes as per one’s commands.

Razeena, a woman trainer, with a microphone told the audience, “By giving the correct prompts, let’s see who can solve the crossword quickly. It must fit the stipulations we gave you. Go on!”

Within minutes, some of them raised hands, signalling they had solved the puzzle using an AI tool, the existence of which they had learnt just an hour ago. “It’s so powerful, yet so simple to use. This will be helpful for us in class,” one of the teachers said.

The exercise soon gave way to a 30-minute presentation on the responsible use of AI and a reminder that it can only assist a teacher in her work, not replace her altogether in the classroom. It was then followed by an intensive exercise on how questions, based on an essay, can be framed for unit tests using AI and how a lengthy article on the Renaissance period can be summarised in 200 words with the same tool.

On May 2, KITE, an Edtech arm of the state education department set up to augment IT education in schools, began a comprehensive state-wide hands-on AI training programme for 80,000 secondary school teachers. Considered the first such drive on AI of this scale in the country, its aim was to make teachers aware of the possibilities of AI and its tools in the public education sphere and use them responsibly in their preparation of modules and classes for students.

THE PLAN

K Anvar Sadath, the chief executive officer of KITE, said the AI training programme was only a natural step in an ongoing process that began in 2003 when a textbook on Information Technology (IT) was first circulated among class 8 students in government and aided schools in the state.

“It has been a continuous process. In 2010, we began Information Communication Technology (ICT)-enabled education in our government schools. Last year, we prepared an AI module for ‘Little Kites’, who are part of the student IT network in our schools. In February this year, when we began preparing an AI module for our teachers who are IT coordinators in schools, the education minister intervened and said the knowledge must be expanded to all teachers across the state. That’s how this campaign was devised,” Sadath told HT over phone.

A 10-member team of KITE sat down with domain experts starting in February over a dozen sessions to design the modules which are now part of the training programme.

The ultimate target, Sadath underlined, is to “get our own AI engine” to overcome the algorithmic bias and fulfil the core academic objectives. “Before that, we want to empower the teachers and get them truly immersed in AI on the academic front,” the CEO said.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sija, a Sanskrit teacher at a government-aided school in Kochi, appeared highly motivated to try out some of these tools back in school.

“What excited me most was the AI tool called Leonardo with which we can generate and customise images and videos. Since I am a Sanskrit teacher who deals routinely with stories from Hindu myths, I am looking forward to generating images of some characters and visualising them in the classroom,” said Sr Sija.

Ancy Sojan, her colleague and a Hindi teacher, said she felt like a “king” in school these days, armed with the laptop and the myriad possibilities it held.

“Years ago, I didn’t even know how to operate a computer. But today, I can do so many things with it that makes my work and life easier. My husband works at a mall and doesn’t know much about AI except that the government has planted AI cameras in the city to catch traffic violations. But when I showed him some of the uses of AI on our home desktop, my husband was really fascinated,” said Ancy.

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