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Artificial intelligence and data analytics enter the school

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The president of a company that produces artificial intelligence products tells me: “We have to hire a hundred people, but we struggle to find them.” New graduates, especially the best, highly sought after by multinationals, prefer to go abroad, where they are better paid and have greater career prospects. But undoubtedly there is also a training problem. Not so much at the university level, as in middle schools and high schools, where the teaching staff is not adequately prepared to deal with complex yet absolutely current subjects, such as artificial intelligence, algorithms, data science, digital culture.

For this reason, the initiative of Dataninja (www.dataninja.it) and with Open the Box (https://www.openthebox.io/) for two years now it has been bringing innovative media and data literacy educational paths to Italian schools to train teachers and enable them to teach new generations to be informed in a more informed way even with data , numbers, tables and graphs.

“With the pandemic we have all understood how important it is to be able to read and use the data that flows on our smartphones – explains Nicola Bruno, director of Open the Box – With this project Dataninja wants to give an innovative answer to the demand for educational content on digital issues, with the aim of creating a new generation of data-checkers able to inform themselves in a more informed, smart and responsible way “.

In the first year, the course dealt with more digital culture issues, such as memes, social media and disinformation. With the participation of over 700 teachers who teach in Italian schools, complex issues such as artificial intelligence and the use made of it to create deepfakes, the new frontier of disinformation, difficult to unmask by the average user, have also been addressed. Thanks to the initiative, over 4300 students were able to compete with the verification of online sources using fact-checking tools available online.

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This year, the Open the Box offering has focused on data literacy, with the aim of bringing to Italian schools the theme of data that are, and will increasingly be, central in the world of work and communication.

The Open the Box educational package, which is aimed mainly at middle and high school teachers, offers 8 interactive lessons divided into two paths, one focused on media literacy (which includes sources, fake news, manipulated images, meme culture , deepfake and synthetic media) and the other on data literacy (which includes reading data, visualizations with graphs and dataviz, to then arrive at a more operational phase in which students are invited to build their own dataset on their own). The lessons are complete with mini-games, multimedia handouts, group activities and quizzes for the evaluation of learning. Finally, the classes will be able to participate in a challenge between schools where students will be able to put into practice what they have learned, identifying and reconstructing the phases of creating a deepfake or creating a data visualization starting from a research carried out at school.

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