IBM launches three free AI-focused online learning platforms for young people and their teachers

The digital resources were created as a response to a survey that found Gen Z is interested in emerging tech, but feels unprepared to use it.

students using digital technology and phones in the classroom. 21st century Education concept

Image: Lincoln Beddoe, Getty Images/iStockphoto

A survey of youth 14-18 finds that they are interested in working with emerging technology, but feel unprepared to do so. As a response, IBM has launched three new AI-focused online tools to teach young people about the future of artificial intelligence.

IBM's study of the cohort in 13 countries found that 68% of them think that AI will have a major impact on their lives, but half of that number (34%) said they don't feel properly equipped to use the technology that will make a large difference in their futures.

"As a company bringing advanced technologies into the marketplace, we have a deep responsibility to ensure that learners have the skills required to participate in the digital economy," IBM said in its announcement of the new educational tools.

More than half, 56%, of young people surveyed said they were interested in tech careers, and 60% of those were interested in emerging tech areas like cybersecurity and the cloud. When it comes to any one area of interest, AI dominates with 59% wanting to learn more about it.

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IBM said that it listened and is taking action on the idea so many young people feel unprepared for careers in AI by launching three new sets of online resources for students and teachers.

The first resource comes in the form of a free version of IBM's P-TECH program, which is an initiative designed to give underserved students the skills they need to succeed in a STEM career. Called Open P-TECH, the free online learning platform is designed for high school students and just added a course where students can earn a badge in AI education.

"Users can learn the foundational concepts behind AI systems, consider the ethical implications of AI, explore applications of AI tools, and more," IBM said.

K-12 educators who want to learn more about AI can use the second resource, IBM AI Education, to attend free webinars about "AI's foundational concepts and K-12 classroom connections, with topics including introduction to AI, natural language processing, ethics, robotics, and more," IBM said. 

Teachers who wish to can also earn an IBM AI Foundations for Educators badge that will leave them "equipped to share the foundational knowledge of artificial intelligence with their colleagues and students in their classrooms."

Teachers working with younger students in the K-8 range can use IBM's Teacher Advisor with Watson to better plan lessons that meet the individual needs of their students. Rather than teaching particular AI-based skills and information about emerging technology, the Teacher Advisor uses the AI of IBM's Watson to help teachers prepare young people for future STEM studies by making their math education the best it can be. 

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IBM recently partnered with the Northwest Evaluation Association to link its MAP recommendation tool to the Teacher Advisor, which IBM said will make the tool even more useful by tailoring lesson recommendations to individual student assessment scores.

These announcements come on the UN's International Youth Day. Citing UN Secretary General António Guterres, who said: "Young people are on the vanguard of progress, as entrepreneurs, activists and community leaders.  They inspire change," IBM said its new tools serve as "an important reminder for everyone about the importance of coming together to give our young people the skills to do so."

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