Have you ever wondered – why the next video that YouTube and Tiktok offer me is this video and not the one after it? This was exactly the question asked by the daughter of Prof. Oren Kurland, an expert in information retrieval and data science from the Faculty of Data and Decision Sciences at the Technion, who is currently studying in second grade at the Nitsanim school in Ramat Gan.
“She has been watching YouTube from a young age, and tried to understand why this video is shown and not others, and why Tiktok only shows you certain videos. So I asked myself this exact question – and I said wait, how can I explain this to her?” he said in a conversation with Maariv, “I approached Rotem Israeli, the new director of the Nitsanim school, and suggested that she establish an artificial intelligence study program for 7th-8th graders. She expressed support for the idea, and this program became part of her technological innovation strategy.”
He added: “I put together the team of founders of the program, and we all volunteered to create the program. One of them is Sharon Sorin, author of the bestseller: ‘How Computers Think’ and an expert in early childhood technological pedagogy, Barak Hakmov, Michal Sher Israel and Major T. 8200. The program was taught by teacher Mirla Bakal, together with students.”
“The program ran for about four months in the previous academic year, when the 28 students who participated in it learned various topics, such as how Google ranks pages and why YouTube recommends certain videos, alongside the topic – how to teach a computer, while showing examples, to understand that in the picture you see a cat and not a dog, And how do you teach him to understand the emotion in the text,” he explained, “the uniqueness of this program is in the explanation of how things work, and not how to use them. Basically, to understand these technologies – you need to know math. We created a series of pedagogical patents that explain how these technologies work, Using the math that is studied in grades 7-8, and the trick was to teach the participants in the program – without them actually noticing – also math that is usually studied in high school.”
How did the students manage with the materials?
“At the end of a week, we conducted a questionnaire in order to understand whether the students understood the materials or not – and they did understand, and the success was great and they enjoyed it very much. Many entities donated money to the program, along with anonymous donors, so that we could pay salaries to the students who taught here.”
And what is your plan for the future?
“Recently, Google decided to sponsor the program. In addition, we started developing it in an annual version, with the goal being that by the end of this year we will be able to implement it in more schools, thereby giving a boost to the periphery. At the same time, the mayor of Ramat Gan decided that he is distributing the half-yearly program to schools in the city”.
He concluded: “The children are exposed to screens at a very, very young age and it is difficult to detach them from it, so I wanted to give them the tools to deal with everything. Artificial intelligence has many biases, which shape the perception of reality, and with my meager powers I said that they need to be given the tools to understand this, and become to critical surfers. I believed it would succeed and continue to grow.”