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Participating in UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week 2019: Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development

SEAMOLEC was invited and participated in the UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Weeks 2019: under the theme ‘Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable development’. Mobile Learning Week is held annually at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the event convenes education and technology experts from around the world. 1500 participants from 130 countries participated in the event that provided the educational community, governments and other stakeholders a unique opportunity to discuss the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sustainable development.

This year’s event was conducted on 4 to 8 March 2019 with the main objective to look at the opportunities and threats linked to the use of AI in education. The topics discussed were under the ideas on how to ensure inclusive and equitable use of AI in education? How to leverage AI to enhance education and learning? How to promote skills development for jobs and life in the AI era? And how to safeguarding transparent and auditable use of education data?

The five-days event started with the ‘Global Conference-Principles for AI: Towards a Humanistic Approach’, followed by a one-day Policy Forum and Workshops, a two-days International Symposium and a half-day of Strategy Labs. During the entire week, exhibitions and demonstrations of innovative AI applications for education and more than 20 workshops were organized by international partners and all programme sectors of UNESCO.

Participants can find a lot of up-to-date information about the development of AI in this symposium, as AI has risen to the forefront of public discourse in recent years. The breakthrough in AI is on an accelerated development path, and has been further propelled by innovations in other frontier technologies, including cloud computing, big data, internet of things, and virtual reality. As a convergence of a widening spectrum of frontier technologies, AI has garnered the potential to bring new possibilities for global development and societal change.

The transformation power of AI crosses all economic and social sectors, including the education sector. In particular, AI has the potential to accelerate the process of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4. It promises to reduce barriers to access education, automate management processes, analyse learning patterns and optimise learning processes with a view to improving learning outcomes. However, the penetration of AI in education comes with concerns about ethics, security and human rights. Without policy intervention, the commercial deployment of AI will also exacerbate digital divides and deepen existing income and learning inequalities, as marginalised and disadvantaged groups are more likely to be excluded from AI-powered education.

To maximize AI’s benefits and mitigate its potential risks, system-wide planning and collective actions to reinvent the core foundation of education and learning are required. The rapid deployment of AI in education tests the readiness of stakeholders to harness AI, posing new challenges pertinent to all areas of education and learning, such as policy planning, curriculum and resources development, teacher education, and skills development.

After participating in this symposium, SEAMOLEC began to design real implementation in the form of a model to implement AI in education, especially in the field of open and distance learning. One that will soon be designed and replicated by SEAMOLEC is modeling that follows the introduction of AI for early childhood as demonstrated by the Youth Mobile project by UNESCO for Africa. It is a project that introduces coding to children in African countries including Namibia, Mozambique, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. As a first step, SEAMOLEC will offer this model to the main unit of Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia.

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