Embracing the Next Transformative Technology

Type: Article
Topics: College- Career- and Life-Readiness, School Administrator Magazine, Technology & AI

October 02, 2023


This past August was the first time in nearly 30 years for me starting the school year without being based in a local school district. That was a big deal as the start of each school year always brought about the opportunity to start fresh, look ahead, incorporate new best practices and engage in new methods to solve persistent challenges.

Each year also introduced advances in new technology. I recall the days of threading film and film strip projectors, using traditional overhead projectors and ditto machines. It has been an absolute thrill to see the significant transition over the years to one-to-one devices and the use of technology to meet the learning styles and academic levels of every student in our classrooms.

The introduction of the smartphone marked a dramatic shift in how we accessed and processed information. Many of us remember seeing that first cellphone, which was a bag phone we carried over our shoulders. While that was version 1.0, we never could have made it to the smartphones of today had we not started somewhere. Now, smartphones have become virtually ubiquitous worldwide, and they give students access to the world, literally, in the palm of their hand.

While we embrace the benefits of the smartphone, we also must recognize and embrace the rise and potential of another transformative technology: artificial intelligence.

Career-Linked Learning

The Pew Research Center conducts periodic surveys regarding public opinion on the adoption of AI. When considering how AI can impact the workforce, 62 percent of respondents in one recent survey said they “believe artificial intelligence will have a major impact on job holders overall in the next 20 years, but far fewer think it will greatly affect them personally.” AI technology will significantly affect the future workforce, so we must consider continually how AI will impact our ability to prepare students for future careers we can’t yet imagine.

While we need to ensure guardrails are in place, AI should continue to be explored and embraced to see how it can be effectively incorporated into our educational curricula, making students not just consumers, but informed creators, curators and positive stewards of this technology.

Under AASA members’ leadership, America’s public schools will prepare our young people to successfully navigate this new world. Traditional teaching methods may need to be revised to align academic concepts with new real-world applications.

This is where the model of career pathways and career-connected learning can play a key role. It is a structured approach to learning that equips students with the necessary academic knowledge and provides them with a clear line of sight into their future careers.

By embracing career-connected learning, school districts can ensure that public education is rigorous, relevant and moves beyond the classroom walls, adhering to high academic standards while enabling students to establish tangible connections between their classroom learning and the broader world. This approach facilitates developing hard and soft skills, fostering adaptability, problem-solving abilities and a lifelong learning mindset — all critical assets in the rapidly evolving job market.

AI-Shaped Schooling

Public education must embody the rigors, relevance and real-world application necessary for students to thrive in a society characterized by rapid technological advancements. Innovation lies at the heart of leadership and must be at the heart of education. We must empower students to explore and lead in a world that is driven increasingly by digital technologies and shaped by AI.

We can help them navigate the world as it is today and enable them to shape the world of tomorrow — creating a future that is informed by knowledge and propelled by innovation. Education, at its best, is not just about imparting facts that students can simply Google. It is about shaping innovators, leaders and responsible digital citizens who will help lead us into the future.

Our societal shift toward a more connected, digitally driven world underscores the need to transform education. I encourage you to consider joining the Learning 2025: Learner-Centered, Future-Driven Network. AASA is championing a future-driven, equitable, and student-centered education system for all, and the network is the driving force to implement this work. Consider joining other districts across the country in the network as we move forward to the future.

David Schuler is AASA executive director. Twitter: @AASA_ED