Through the history of Renton Prep, executive director Dr. Michelle Zimmerman and our team have always prioritized artificial intelligence and technology in the classroom. However, at the center of this idea is an emphasis on integrating students’ emotional learning with technology. To create a future with AI in the classroom — both technologically and emotionally — it’s important to spread these ideas around the world.
In September, Dr. Zimmerman’s book Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning, was published with a Chinese translation. After English and Arabic versions, Chinese is the third language her book has been published in. In order to introduce the new version of the book, Dr. Zimmerman presented virtually at the International Conference on Education Innovation.
“[The book] gives a chance for others to be able to see different possibilities with AI,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “It’s not just about creating something that’s more intelligent than humans, but to use the values of technology that can support things that are uniquely human — not to replace them.”
Renton Prep is recognized worldwide for its unique approach to education. Ultimately, how we use technology to approach topics creatively is what sets our educational experience apart from others. This way, every student has the autonomy to start learning about who they are so they can go further.
Of course, although we were prepared, COVID-19 posed an interesting challenge for Renton Prep. However, it also expanded the ways in which our students saw the world and integrated technology in their every day lives.
“Even though we’ve been working with technology and balancing it with human connection for the last decade, and the research that I’ve put in, we still don’t have it all figured out,” Dr. Zimmerman said.
One example of learning remote, shared by Dr. Zimmerman in her presentation, was students designing personal protective equipment.
Students were asked to contribute ideas to help communities get people back together safely before a COVID-19 vaccine is complete. Students had to research ideas, think critically about what designs were realistic and were just for fashion, and then act as entrepreneurs to develop a plan.
Much of this work was completed via Microsoft Teams and the design of products was done via digital applications. This is just one of the countless ways we use technology in our curriculum design.
“They found out that it was challenging to write a resume, to collaborate with each other, to identify how to keep a group functioning across distance,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “But we use that as an example to help them see the impact of remote and distance learning, and that it’s part of the future of work.”
From kindergarten to 10th grade, Renton Prep is constantly exploring how we can keep integrating AI and technology in our classrooms. It’s important to realize that that human emotion comes first. Once emotional needs are met, then teachers blend these values into a technology-driven curriculum.
This includes empathy, compassion, story-telling, creativity, and morals. Notice something: machines cannot replicate any of these things. Thus, by using AI in the classroom, we’re able to give students a creative license and the resources to truly show who they are.
With core values, students are able to realize their potential and develop a wider range of skills. To put it another way, it takes a balance of technology with humanity.
“Where we can start as educators is by helping them know who they are, how they can benefit the society around them and work together, and how they want to uniquely contribute something to challenges in the world,” Dr. Zimmerman said.
Renton Prep is proud to be a school that prioritizes technology that engages students emotionally and creatively. We help students come together to collaborate, communicate and create through technology. This way, AI in the classroom goes further than just computers programs and screens. Specifically, it’s prioritizing real human connection to develop critical thinking.
Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ISTE in print and ebook. Want to learn more about how Renton Prep is integrating AI in the classroom? Feel free to contact us and learn more about our school.