Today’s world is full of technologies that leverage machine learning (ML) and networking. Young people see and use many of them every day, including voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, messaging applications, multiplayer games, video filters, and even autonomous vehicles. But the ways we teach computing to young people largely ignores these technologies, and as such does not enable their creative agency and critical capacity with respect to them. In this talk I will describe work my research group has done, together with educator and researcher partners, to create new tools for youth to apply and learn about ML and networking within creative projects, and to study learning with these systems. Our work illustrates that nominally advanced topics in computing (like ML & networking) can, in fact, be part of introductory computing, and that integrating them into beginning computing courses and programs can enable young people to deeply leverage their prior knowledge about dance, athletics, and music.
Ben Shapiro is on leave from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is Assistant Professor of Computer Science and, by courtesy, in Learning Sciences and Human Development. He has a PhD in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. He leads the Education R&D team in Apple’s AI/ML organization.