The Elements of Artificial Intelligence (AI) course, which is organised jointly by the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki and the technology company Reaktor, has become hugely popular very quickly. The online course is free for anyone to attend, and more than 80,000 students have already signed up for the course. The course introduces the basic concepts and applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in an easily accessible way. It is one of the ongoing projects of Finland’s artificial intelligence programme.

“I’m a bit surprised how popular the course has become. We can reasonably say that this is the most popular course in Finland. At the same time, we have at our disposal the most comprehensive collection of material in the country. This is important with a view to further developing learning analytics and online pedagogy,” says lead instructor Teemu Roos, who is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki.

Teemu Roos. Photo: Aino Pekkarinen.

Course is part of non-formal adult education

Roos says that the Elements of Artificial Intelligence course is part of non-formal adult education, and the aim is to increase people’s understanding of artificial intelligence. The course makes people better equipped to participate in public debate on the subject. The fact that Reaktor is involved in organising the course ensures that the content of the course is in line with the up-to-date solutions used by industry.

The parties involved in organising the course work pro bono.

“I’m happy to say that Finnish society still takes pride in contributing to the promotion of the common good,” says Roos. He also wishes to thank Risto Siilasmaa, Chair of the Board of Directors of Nokia, whose personal contribution gave credibility and visibility to this project already at the early stage.

Course receives international recognition

Word has also spread around the world about the AI course taught entirely in English. Finland has been praised by international media for providing studies in artificial intelligence that are open to anyone interested in the subject and for taking account of industrial interests when planning the course content. When steps were taken a year ago, on the proposal of the central government, to plan this kind of open education, the organisers did not expect that the course would generate such interest at the international level.

“The idea behind Finland’s artificial intelligence programme is to drive Finland forward as a leading country in the application of artificial intelligence. By organising a course in artificial intelligence that is open to anyone, we have already started creating such a brand. We are, of course, very proud of what we have achieved,” says Roos.

Risto Siilasmaa gave a speech at the kick-off event for the Elements of Artificial Intelligence course. Photo: Aki Rask

First students have completed the course

The University of Helsinki and Reaktor will organise, on 6 September, a special graduation ceremony for those who completed the course successfully by Midsummer. It takes approximately 30–60 hours to complete the course.
“The ceremony will be one of its kind,” says lead instructor Roos.

The Elements of Artificial Intelligence course will also be held in Finnish before the end of the year.

Collaboration between the University of Helsinki and Reaktor

The Elements of Artificial Intelligence course is originally based on the artificial intelligence course which has been taught at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki and which Roos has led for nearly ten years.

The content of the course is based on the latest academic research. Reaktor has been responsible for service design and user experience for the general public.
It was easy to start collaboration with Reaktor as Reaktor also has many other strategic-level projects with the University. In addition, Reaktor has traditions in social interaction. It has previously organised popular coding schools for children, for example.

Inquiries:
Teemu Roos, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 44 523 1238, teemu.roos(at)cs.helsinki.fi.

Information about the course and registration www.elementsofai.com

Photos:
Photo of Teemu Roos: Aino Pekkarinen
Photos of the kick-off meeting: Aki Rask

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