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AI to be taught as a subject in Madhya Pradesh schools from class 8 onwards

Madhya Pradesh is all set to become the first state in the country to offer Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a subject to students of class 8 and above. MP will allot at least 240 hours for this subject as compared to 12 hours that the CBSE had proposed. Inder Singh Parmer, the minister of school education in the state along with   MP State Open School Education Board (MPSOSEB) is looking into the matter. The state plans to start teaching this subject from the upcoming academic session which is supposed to commence from July this year.

“We have selected 53 schools in which Artificial Intelligence will be taught as a subject in classes above 8. This will be a nearly 240 hour’s long course and MP will be the first state in the country to teach AI as a subject in school. For now, we have selected 53 schools but we will add more to the list gradually,” the Minister of School Education stated. The state government has also “arranged 40 computers for children in every school (where this initiative is being brought in place),” stated Parmer.

Experts from Microsoft have been roped in to teach the subject to students in the first year. “Teachers have already been trained to some extent, and for the first year, experts from Microsoft will teach this subject while school teachers will observe the classes, as a part of their training. From next year onwards, school teachers will take over their classes,” an official stated. Microsoft has confirmed the news of its partnership with MPSOSEB, and has claimed that it has shared AI handbooks for the faculty and students alike, along with reference materials for the teachers.

“The collaboration also involved teacher training around enabling hybrid learning on Teams and exposure to various collaborative tools for assessments, accessibility and learning how to use AI features in Microsoft Office. Microsoft also conducted Education Transformation Workshops for 52 school principals across MP state,” said a Microsoft official. “Teachers were enrolled on Microsoft Educator Centre to start their online learning journey and earn Microsoft Innovative Educator badges, which exposed them to pedagogical innovations. The effort led to a positive impact reaching out to over 1,000 teachers and overall, 45,000 users in the education segment in the state,” he added further.

Microsoft experts are training teacher’s both online and offline and it is being sponsored by Microsoft itself. “The ‘master trainer’ teachers train other teachers in the schools… In addition, in FY 22, the teachers would go through training on AI curriculum as well as Minecraft – learning through gamification,” the Microsoft official stated.

The schools have welcomed this move with open arms. On this regard, a school principal stated that she would be glad to introduce AI as a subject at her school as “it is the need of the hour and understanding the fundamentals of AI will be very beneficial to students”. Another principal from Bhopal stated that her students were very ‘keen’ to learn that subject. She stated that “They feel that it will ease them to decide their subjects in higher classes. Parents also find the future of their children bright if they opt for AI as this is the era having a lot of scope in AI.” She also pointed out that AI was a skill based subject, “practical approach like the involvement of work experience and internship should be given more emphasis by the teachers to make the subject more interesting.”

Some officials have been gearing up to teach AI for quite some time and are of the opinion that teachers should take the initiative of making it interactive. “While teaching AI to kids, they need to make it very interactive and make the students understand the concepts and applications first by connecting them with real-world examples,” stated the co-founder of STEMROBO Technologies, Rajeev Tiwari.

Some teachers are of the opinion that even the simple concepts should be broken down to bite sized pieces to ease the learning process. “With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence in education, the method of teaching is important. Imparting the necessary and required information and making sure it does not burden the students is important. Simplifying the information and then giving it to the students will help,” stated a PRT teacher from Madhya Pradesh. Students should have the preliminary understanding of a computer language, another teacher claimed.

The director of Engineering and Technology at Jaipur’s JK Lakshmipat University, Sanjay Goel claimed that  “Rather than introducing a separate subject for it, we should integrate it while teaching other subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Science, and even arts and languages”. “If we introduce it as a separate subject, it would be another added burden on students. This way if we keep adding separate courses to the curriculum, the timetable will not have enough space for separate courses.”

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