For many people, getting started with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a challenge, since there are too many potential points of entry. The three jargon-free courses, provided in German by appliedAI, can help here. The non-technical language makes it easy to ingest and the focus on applying AI gives meaning and relevance to it.
The majority of educational offers on AI and Machine Learning are in English and focus on technical topics, thereby facilitating access to the technology for everyone without the necessary tech or language skills. To address this gap, the appliedAI initiative by the non-profit UnternehmerTUM GmbH in Munich has recently published three offers in the local language – German, with a primary focus on the application and impact of AI in private and professional life. A translation into English is currently on the way and appliedAI invites everyone to get in touch, should there be interest in other language versions.
Two of those education offers are MOOCs. One is called ‘Introduction of AI’ and it targets the general public. Its four modules explain intuitively why we should care about AI, how AI works, what risks emerge with AI, and how to prepare for a future with AI. The second MOOC is named ‘Foundations of AI for Business’ and it is for everyone interested in the industrial application of AI. Its centrepiece is a compilation of numerous AI use cases in common business functional areas, such as production, supply chain and manufacturing, marketing or finance.
Both MOOCs are openly accessible and free of charge for all. They are text-based and written in a jargon-free and non-technical language. They feature rich multimedia content including explainer videos, interviews, images and graphics, as well quizzes at various stages. While both are entry-level courses, they distinctly address the educational needs of the general public on the one side and people in companies and organisations on the other. Participating in these two courses, 'learners gain insights about the risks and benefits of AI in everyday settings and the workplace, and how to prepare for a future with AI', explains Dr Till Klein, Senior Manager at the appliedAI Academy.
The third offer is the certificate course ‘KI-Manager (IHK)’, developed for and delivered in collaboration with the Education Branch of the German Association for Industry (DIHK). It has been designed for individuals who seek to drive AI-Initiatives within a company. The curriculum covers a brief introduction to machine learning and focuses on methods for developing an AI ambition on an organisational level and methods for identifying promising AI use cases. This six-week course builds on an instructor-led blended-learning approach, featuring multiple interactive hands-on sessions that enable participants to apply the industry-tested methods to their organisations. Successful graduates receive an IHK certificate.
The process for developing all three courses was interactive and involved close collaboration between instructional designers, AI experts, trainers and reviewers, compromising several rounds of refinement and integration of practical insights from joint appliedAI and industry partners’ projects. Overall, the appliedAI initiative has the vision to lift Germany to the AI age, hence the courses are designed to scale - in other words, they are open access and online. To make this possible, the course development relies on public funding.
In terms of the format, every course has a different emphasis. ‘Introduction to AI’ uses a storytelling approach and takes a learner on a hero journey. To illustrate the narrative, the training features a series of comic-like graphics and an animated trailer. The focus on applied AI is central to ‘Foundations of AI for Business’, thereby it encourages exploring potential AI use examples and lets the learner dive into its concrete functional areas – those are complemented with recordings of expert interviews. For each function, an overview chart displays areas for applying AI along the process stages. The ‘KI-Manager (IHK)’ training provides a highly interactive curriculum and applies a mix of tech and business content. The joint implementation with the DIHK fosters the widespread adoption of this instructor-led format and the certification creates an additional benefit for both participants and their organisations.
The three recently designed courses have already received positive feedback from their learners, especially due to their ‘hands-on’ approach. For instance, graduates of the ‘Introduction to AI’ course have particularly liked ‘the language and accessible explanations’ of the training. The beta-testing of ‘Foundations of AI for Business’ revealed that learners appreciate the practical explanations and the many use case examples from the industry. The third offer ‘KI-Manager (IHK)’ has already attracted participants from various member companies of 79 regional IHK branches across Germany. Those companies are predominantly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose learners praise the course for non-technical explanations of AI adoption.
appliedAI is open for collaboration on AI education offers and related matters concerning the adoption of AI. “We are happy to share content or look into opportunities for re-combining our material with other resources for creating better courses. If there is interest, please reach out via the appliedAI website.”, highlights Dr Till Klein, addressing other training providers. In the same way that appliedAI helped to bring the ‘Elements of AI’ course to Germany, the team is happy to support the localization of its courses to countries across Europe.