Dublin & Limerick, 30th January 2024: The ADAPT SFI Research Centre and Mary Immaculate College have announced the completion of the new phase of its ground-breaking workshop series, 'Technology in My Life' (TimL). Developed to cater specifically to primary schools, this unique programme aims to provide educators with the necessary tools and insights to guide pupils in understanding the ethical dimensions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our increasingly digital world. 

Comprehensive materials for the initiative have been developed and are freely available to all schools in Ireland, via the ADAPT website. These materials enable teachers and pupils to effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities brought about by AI in their classrooms and homes. 

The modules are specifically tailored for 5th and 6th Class teachers and have already been successfully trialled in primary schools from across Ireland. Key aspects covered in the TimL materials include selecting appropriate technologies for primary school education, ethical considerations in using technological aids like voice assistants for homework, responsible Internet and social media usage for communication and research, and identifying and addressing unethical behaviour enabled by technology. The comprehensive programme is designed for eight hours of class time but offers flexibility to accommodate varying school needs and different pedagogical approaches.

Prof Dave Lewis, Director of the ADAPT Centre and Head of Artificial Intelligence at Trinity College Dublin, expressed the importance of equipping young people with the necessary skills to thrive in an AI-integrated world. He said: "Our goal is to foster a generation of scientifically literate citizens who can critically engage with and contribute to the development of STEM innovations in our society in an ethical and responsible manner." Schools nationwide are invited to join the growing community of 'Technology in My Life' participants by registering at www.adaptcentre.ie/explore. Participation in this initiative lays the groundwork for empowering students to make informed, ethical decisions in the digital age. Participation also provides an important foundation for the next iteration of the TimL project, which will further explore these important issues and include parents, guardians and siblings in a wider discussion of the importance of the ethical use of technology in their lives.

Embedded within ADAPT’s successful #DiscussAI campaign, which has engaged over 60,000 individuals across Ireland in AI-related discussions, lessons and reflection, this programme explores AI's privacy and ethical dimensions, empowering teachers in guiding their students towards responsible and informed decisions in the digital age.  The TimL project materials cut across the primary school curriculum, promoting skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and effective communication among students.

Speaking at an event ahead of Safer Internet Day, Dr P.J Wall from the ADAPT Centre said: “We are delighted to announce the nationwide availability of the TimL project materials, making a significant step forward in empowering Ireland’s youth. As AI becomes an integral part of our daily lives, it is crucial that our primary school pupils in particular are not only consumers of technology but also informed and ethical participants in this digital age. We hope these materials will offer educators the tools to nurture a deeper understanding of AI and we look forward to a future led by engaged digital citizens.” 

Dr Eleanor Walsh, STEM Outreach Officer in Mary Immaculate College (MIC) added: “We’re delighted to support teachers and schools in this important topic, and to collaborate with the SFI ADAPT centre. In the CRAFT (Creative Arts & Future Technologies) Maker Space on the Limerick campus of MIC, we deliver STEAM workshops where often technology has a prominent role. The materials we have developed in the TimL project, provide a framework to examine how children interact with technologies and involve them in the discussion on how to use them in an ethical manner. It has been a privilege to work alongside the teachers who co-created the materials with us and who are courageous in examining where the boundaries and ethics lie for the children. We welcome other teachers’ involvement in phase two of the project where we plan to involve the broader school community.”