Taiwan has long been a key hub for high-tech hardware, and in the past decade or so, for software as well. Government support for hardware industries and research, in addition to fostering a highly tech-centric culture, has allowed Taiwan to develop a tight-knit technological infrastructure. As a result, Taiwan has been able to cultivate generations of tech-savvy talent fresh out of universities. In the past couple years, both public and private institutions in Taiwan have taken advantage of the country’s well-developed high-tech ecosystem to encourage numerous research and AI education programs.
The growth of AI in Taiwan has not stopped at the higher education and industrial level. Rather, the island has taken proactive measures to promote AI education at elementary and middle school levels as well. Beyond enabling up-and-coming generations to be knowledgeable in AI and experienced in high-tech software, this exposure also allows students to acquire skills in critical thinking and problem solving.
Just last year, the Taiwan government announced, as part of its 2019-2020 school year curriculum plan (108 課綱), a compulsory integration of AI educational materials into all public school curriculums ranging from elementary to high school. Starting in August 2019, the new AI inclusive curriculum has revolved around AI textbooks designed and published by the Ministry of Education. The goal of the AI course has been to cultivate students’ interest in the field, to teach foundational concepts, to provide students with introductory examples, and to encourage applications in problem-solving via hands-on experience.
Private organizations have participated in Taiwan’s campaign for a more futuristic educational system as well; indeed, VIA has been particularly active in its efforts in academia-industry collaboration. Case in point — Taiwan’s Ministry of Education’s Intergenerational AI Learning Online Program hosted at Taipei Municipal Ren-ai Junior High School, which as Principal Zeng of Ren-ai Junior High School believes, is “an AI digital course especially designed for middle school and elementary school students” which enables students to “… exert their imaginations and creativity more effectively.”
As one of the leading junior high schools in Taipei, Ren-ai Junior High School has been in constant contact with VIA’s engineers for the past one and a half years to help the school carry out its AI Learning Program. In a collaborative event between the junior high school and VIA, VIA Pixetto was used with teaching materials from the Science and Technology Department at National Taiwan Normal University to streamline the most challenging parts of teaching AI to elementary and middle school students. VIA Pixetto is appealing, because it can be used in a wide range of projects, regardless if they are beginners trying to learn through experimentation or makers putting together their own independent projects. In each case, VIA Pixetto’s end goal is the same — to serve as a tool for educating future generations in AI. As VIA and Ren-ai Junior High School’s long term collaboration indicates, AI education is indeed an initiative whole-heartedly embraced by Taiwan.
Written by Josephine Cheng, a current Marketing Intern at VIA and a Communications student at the University of Pennsylvania.