How a University-District Collaboration Created an AI Curriculum in Florida

**Article originally published on K-12 Dive.**

The University of Florida and Orange County Public Schools together developed a statewide curriculum on artificial intelligence for high school students.

A woman stands between two female students pointing to a laptop screen.
Stock Photo via Getty Images

Every day, students are using artificial intelligence on their phones, said Michael Martucci, assistant director of career and technical education at Orange County Public Schools in Florida.

Asking Siri a question on an iPhone is one example, he said. Data science that tracks online purchases is another use of AI. When scrolling through social media, students may also run into deep fakes, or videos that have been digitally altered through AI to make a person appear as someone else.

Generally, AI is the development of computer systems to perform tasks humans normally would. Whether people like it or not, Martucci said, AI is here in the world “in a big way” — and it’s not going anywhere.

“If it’s here, I’d rather be on the frontline leading the charge than on the backside trying to catch up,” he said.

Teaching students what AI is and how to discern the technology will also better inform the decisions they make in the future, Martucci said.

So when Martucci saw a press release announcing a $70 million public-private partnership between the University of Florida and Nvidia, a global technology company, to jumpstart an initiative to improve access to AI, he approached the university about creating a CTE curriculum framework to instruct students statewide on the technology.

As a result, a statewide CTE framework for four AI courses was developed in collaboration between Orange County Public Schools and the University of Florida. The Florida Department of Education approved the framework in March, Martucci said.

Three school districts in the state — Orange County schools, the School District of Osceola County and Broward County Public Schools — are looking to pilot the AI curriculum program, which consists of four high school courses:

  • Artificial Intelligence in the World
  • Applications of Artificial Intelligence
  • Procedural Programming
  • Foundations of Machine Learning

“With each one of these courses, the complexity increases,” said Christina Gardner-McCune, Ph.D., an associate professor in UF’s Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering. Gardner-McCune also helped design the AI curriculum framework and modeled it after the Artificial Intelligence for K-12 Initiative, which she co-chairs. The courses build on each other and are taken progressively.

The first course, Artificial Intelligence in the World, helps students identify AI in the world and how it works, she said. In the second course, students begin looking at how AI is used in different fields to solve problems, and they can potentially create their own AI systems to address issues they’re passionate about, Gardner-McCune said.

After taking those first two courses, Gardner-McCune said, students could stop learning about AI and will still be quite literate in this technology. Or they can dive deeper into the content, learn how to create some of these AI applications, and possibly use these skills in their careers.

The ultimate goal of this CTE framework is to create an opportunity for students to get an entry-level job in AI or machine learning, Gardner-McCune said.

Read the full article on k-12 Dive.

Anna Merod
Associate Editor
K-12 Dive