aiEDU at the 2022 ASU+GSV Summit
aiEDU’s leadership team spent four days in San Diego last week with 5,000+ educators, investors, policymakers, and entrepreneurs at the 2022 ASU+GSV Summit. The event started in 2010 as the brainchild of Arizona State University (ASU) and Global Silicon Valley (GSV), and has grown to become the preeminent gathering of education leaders. The ASU+GSV Summit’s north star is transforming society and business around learning and work to ensure all people have equal access to the future.
aiEDU was an official partner of the Summit, thanks to the support of Tiffany Taylor, our newest Board Member and the Chief People & Impact Officer at GSV Ventures. As a partner, we led four panels, a workshop, and a rooftop reception at the Grand Hyatt for superintendents, academic directors, and other district leadership across the United States. This post provides a short recap of our activation in San Diego.
Rooftop Celebration for Education Leaders
aiEDU co-hosted an invitation-only reception on the rooftop of the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Tuesday evening. The event, organized in partnership with GSV Ventures and the ASU+GSV team, included more than 150 superintendents from across the U.S. It was a moment for us to celebrate education leaders, providing them with chance to meet one another and trade notes from the Summit.
Stage X fireside chats with Emma Bloomberg and Vilas Dhar
Marcus Brauchli, aiEDU’s first board member and the former Executive Editor of the Washington Post, moderated two Stage X talks with two leading voices from the funder and nonprofit community.
Emma started a nonprofit called Murmuration, which works to empower political campaigns, advocates, and organizers to identify, engage, and mobilize people and communities to drive progress toward a future where every child in America has the opportunity to benefit from a high-quality public education. She noted that there is a massive gap between the tools groups have to organize their communities and the tools they need to do so effectively. Murmuration’s work is more important than ever, said Emma, and today the organization provides tools, data, applied data science, and strategic support to partners working in communities across the country on electoral, organizing, and advocacy efforts to drive necessary improvements to our public schools. Last month, Murmuration released a Benchmark Poll, which surfaces a number of insights that challenge our conventional wisdom about how we should target education voters. Voters are frustrated and tired of the culture wars and want our education system to focus on teaching our children, not hyper-partisan, hot-button issues. Young voters are aligned on key education issues across party lines, while significant divides exist between younger and older voters within the same party on the same issues.
Vilas is the President of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, which invests in the exploration, enhancement, and development of AI and data science for good (The McGovern Foundation is one of aiEDU’s largest funders). Vilas spoke about the fierce urgency which drives his foundation’s work. Technology, AI, and data increasingly influence our daily lives and society, and they want to create a shared understanding, language, and vision for how these tools can be ethically developed and applied for the greater good. Vilas said that philanthropy must play a significant role in supporting the diverse talent, courageous conversations, and new institutions needed to make change and reimagine the future. He pointed to his foundation’s support for The AI Education Project as an example of how the philanthropic sector can seed powerful new ideas and approaches to enhance public education and understanding.
Workshop: Bringing AI Education to K12 Schools—The ‘Why’ & the ‘How’
aiEDU’s flagship event at the ASU+GSV Summit was an 80 minute workshop for district superintendents, foundation leaders, and teachers to educate them about how AI impacts their students and future pathways, and what their schools can do to make sure they are prepared. Three members of our leadership team — Ehrik Aldana, Cristina Nowak, and Charlotte Dungan — partnered with a team of administrators from Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), which includes greater Atlanta and is one of the largest school districts in the U.S. GCPS recently pioneered the launch of a district-wide AI education initiative, a unique, integrated approach to AI curriculum designed to make learning opportunities more accessible to a wider array of students.
aiEDU opened the session with a table setting conversation and activity to establish the definition of artificial intelligence, and explore some of the concrete ways AI is expected to reshape the workforce and career pathways. We also shared some of the findings from our collaboration with the Georgetown Center for Security & Emerging Technology (CSET) to publish a catalog of AI education opportunities across the U.S., and shared a brief overview of our curriculum.
The GCPS team shed light on the nexus of their AI program, which was driven by the realization that students aren’t being adequately prepared for the new digital economy. GCPS considered two approaches: discrete AI curricula designed to establish a depth of knowledge about AI through project-based learning with coding-based and no-code variants; and holistic, integrated AI and future readiness, which seeks to establish connections between AI and core content areas (Math, English, Social Studies, Science, Art, etc.).
Despite the session room being located in a hard-to-reach part of the conference venue, every seat was filled, making it one of the better-attended sessions at ASU+GSV.
Panel: Thriving in the AI Workforce of the Future
On Tuesday, I moderated a panel with Ken McNeely, President of AT&T’s Western Region; Dr. Leigh Ann DeLyser, Co-Founder & Executive Director of CSforAll; Dr. Babak Mostaghimi, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instructional Support, and Innovation at Gwinnett County Public Schools; and Ronit Avni, Founder & CEO of Localized.
We talked about the way “21st Century Skills” as a term has evolved from basic digital competency (e.g. how to type and use a computer) into technology literacy and workforce readiness. Dr. DeLyser noted that there is a gap between the perception of what modern work looks like, and the reality — and this gap is difficult to bridge for educational institutions, which are often out of the loop about the ways in which technology is transforming our society.
Ken stated that our education system needs to change in response to technology; gone are the days that we memorize dates and definitions. Instead, we need to help build critical thinking, creativity, and interpersonal skills. He pointed to the evolution of the 5-day, 40-hour work week, which is no longer sacrosanct as more and more companies embrace hybrid and remote learning environments. Ken also pointed to the importance of public-private partnerships to help address problems that government can’t solve on its own. One example of this is the AT&T Aspire Accelerator, a program which supported innovative Edtech companies and nonprofits working on scalable solutions for our education system.
Dr. Mostaghimi underscored the crux of the challenge that education leaders face: today’s kindergartners are going to graduate in 2034. We’re seeing the pace of technology change speeding up, and those kids are going to be navigating gargantuan changes in the way we live and work. Amidst these shifts, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we are instilling digital citizenship, ethical decision making, and critical thinking during school.
Panel: Students Navigating the New Digital World of Machine Learning and Data Science
Karen Silverman, another aiEDU Board Member and the CEO and Founder of The Cantellus Group, moderated a panel with Dr. Kiesha King, Sr. National Education Administrator at T-Mobile for Education; Dr. Allison Scott, CEO of The Kapor Center; Sean Perryman, Policy Expert, Former Counsel to the Internet Association; and Louis Stewart, Head of Strategic Initiatives and Developer Ecosystem at NVIDIA.
Karen’s panel addressed the impact that emerging technology is having on students. It is moving fast, and becoming increasingly immersive, more demanding of our time and emotional attention, and more confusing. We know that today’s kids are going to be digitally savvy, and will need a different set of skills, and to expect life-long learning to be a fundamental part of everyone’s career.
One thread of discussion touched on the lack of policies in place to ensure that kids are benefitting from the use of these technologies and to reduce disparities in who gets to create, use, and benefit from these new tools. Part of this also includes teaching kids how to have personal agency over technologies, even if they are not interested in STEM careers.
Another point of agreement was the need to reinforce the value of the Liberal Arts and Humanities, which serve an important purpose alongside STEM coursework in helping to build the critical thinking skills that today’s students will need to rely on throughout their lives.