Terms like cognitive science, neuroscience and artificial intelligence have been gaining traction in French schools. Researchers and startups are working overtime to create new tools to improve teaching methods and career counseling. Additionally, President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that France’s artificial intelligence strategy would focus on higher education and research.
Many EdTech startups are already tackling A.I. but where do French schools stand? According to Audencia innovation director Valérie Claude-Gaudillat, “A.I. remains very disconnected from our coursework and teaching methods. It’s rarely discussed in the classroom and that is a problem.”
Meanwhile, A.I. research is flourishing in labs. At Inria, the French Institute for Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, the Flowers research team is studying children’s learning mechanisms. By using algorithms to customize coursework, research director Pierre-Yves Oudeyer hopes to “offer different exercise completion speeds.” One such Flowers project, KidLearn, aims to improve math instruction.
Oudeyer observes, “There’s a paradox in the French educational ecosystem. It’s relatively easy to bring even untested EdTech tools into the classroom. Yet as researchers, when we try to test out technology to see whether the impact on students is positive or negative, certain doors close.”
Inviting data and A.I. into schools raises certain ethical questions. For Qwant deputy CEO Jean-Baptiste Piacentino, “To develop tools that use A.I., you need a massive amount of data. Currently, this data is monopolized by a few big platforms.”
Laval University teaching and learning studies professor Sylvie Barma argues, “We need to shorten the critical distance between digital tools and citizens so they can make educated decisions.” In France, that translates to A.I. trainings at universities and even introducing preschoolers to A.I. so that “none of our citizens will be afraid of machines because fear can lead to terrible things, ” warns Gérard Giraudon, Inria research director.
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Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le