First AI course for pre-university education in Romania
Organised and supported by ARIA (Romanian Association for Artificial Intelligence) and UPIR (Union of Informatics Teachers in Romania), the first artificial intelligence course for pre-university education in Romania is developed and led by Bitdefender specialists, professors from the National College ‘Mircea cel Bătrân’ Râmnicu Vâlcea and Google DeepMind UK specialists.
The course is a milestone in the AI project for schools and high schools in Romania launched in 2019 by researchers from DeepMind Google through the organisation ARIA (Romanian Association for Artificial Intelligence), Dr. Viorica Păliucean and Dr. Răzvan Pașcanu. This is complemented by professionals from the country and from all over the world.
Context and project phases
The first presentation of the project took place in the summer of 2019 in Vrancea Gălăheim during the traditional seminars of the Innovation and Digital Creativity Olympics – InfoEducation. The idea was enthusiastically received by the teachers present, which encouraged the team to further develop the project. In 2020, the scientific content developed by the two researchers together with their collaborators was organised and posted on a dedicated platform. The adaptation was carried out by Professors Dr Miana Arișanu and Antonia Haller at the National College ‘Mircea cel Bătrân’ in Râmnicu Vâlcea. Technical organisation, web implementation was supported by Dr. Engineer Vlad Tudor, the CEO L&S Infomat: a well-known publisher of specialised textbooks for high-school computing.
Meanwhile, work has also been done to build a community of students and teachers who have adopted the curriculum and work/teach/learn this way. More than 100 high school teachers and 400+ students make up, and participate in this vibrant community.
In 2021, work to develop the curriculum for secondary schools (Introduction to machine learning as an artificial intelligence branch and have it recognised on by the Ministry of Education started. Dr Viorica Păliucean, Dr Răzvan Pașcanu and professors Antonia Haller, Dr Miana Arișanu and Emil ONEA worked on the curriculum. The curriculum Introduction to machine learning as an artificial intelligence branch was approved by the Ministry of Education by Order No 4049 of 14.06.2022.
In October 2022, the first phase of online teacher training was launched through weekly presentations of induction courses in support of teachers teaching or planning to work with groups of students in optional or extra-curricular hours.
To begin with, the course comprises 4-5 introduction sequences, where users go through terms like what is AI, how to work on the collab platform (an interactive learning environment on which students can run code sequences without installing any application on their own computer), what are the first steps in developing simple programs using machine learning algorithms.
In the next stages, two prestigious Romanian universities will be active in the community through the goodwill of Dr Radu Gramatovici, prorector at the University of Bucharest and dr.Ing. Răzvan Rughiniș, prodecan of the Faculty of Automation and Computer of the University of Bucharest Polytechnic.
Why is this a good practice?
The project has ran in several phases and has made possible the first pre-university course in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Romania. The programme materials are available in Romanian and can be accessed below.
An entire team of specialists, who have worked pro bono to develop works accessible to pupils and secondary school teachers, have been indispensible for the project:
- Corina Gurău, Wayve London
- Cristina Garbacea, University of Michigan
- Elena Burceanu, Bitdefender Buchare.
- Emanuela Haller, Bitdefender Buchare.
- Florin Gogianu, Bitdefender Buchare.
- Ioana BICA, University of Oxford & Turing Institute
- Iulia Duță, Bitdefender Buchare@@
- Miruna Pîslar, DeepMind Paris
- Răzvan Pașcanu, DeepMind London & EEML
- Viorica Păvinucean, DeepMind London & EEML
The project has ensured a good level of collaboration between different stakeholders from the public and private sector in Romania, and in Europe and has contributed to making education on AI more accessible to secondary school and high-school pupils, thereby encouraging youngsters to embark on a career in AI and emerging technologies.
About the author: Emil ONEA is a computer teacher, Executive Director UPIR (Union of Informatics Teachers of Romania).