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Opinion: FETC Offers Glimpse of AI and Future Classrooms

Among more than 550 sessions at the National Future of Education Technology Conference in Florida this year, nearly one-fifth were about artificial intelligence, covering uses in classroom instruction and data analytics.

Two young students working on a laptop in a classroom.
In January 2024, I had the honor of attending the National Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). For over 40 years, FETC has brought together educators to learn about the latest developments in educational technology to advance their teaching practices. With a concentration on technology, the conference hosted more than 550 sessions, many of which concentrated on the role of artificial intelligence (AI). The importance of adopting AI appeared to be a central theme throughout the conference. Nearly a fifth of the sessions focused on AI and how it can help educators provide personalized support for students from kindergarten to high school and prepare them for their post-secondary education or the workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were over 17 million high school students in public high schools across the country in 2022. Through the use of AI, preparing high school students for college and career opportunities may become more streamlined than our current practices.

First, there are AI-enabled adaptive learning systems that offer tailored instruction to fit individual students’ needs, allowing them to learn at their own pace and concentrate on specific areas where they need more guidance. These platforms offer personalized recommendations for resources, activities and learning pathways based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses. There are AI algorithms that can assess students’ proficiency and knowledge in different subjects, highlighting areas that need improvement. By analyzing student data, educators can gain insights into each student’s learning preferences and weaknesses, enabling them to intervene and provide the appropriate support.

AI-powered analytics tools can also enable school staff to learn from large data on student performance, attendance and behavior trends. By detecting trends and patterns in student data, educators can make data-driven decisions to enhance teaching and learning outcomes, implement targeted interventions, and help principals and district leaders distribute resources more efficiently. Additionally, chatbots and virtual assistants can offer on-demand support and guidance to students, parents, and professional school counselors as they go through the college application process, prepare for standardized tests, and explore career choices. These virtual mentors can answer students’ questions, provide advice, and link them with resources and support services.

By using the capabilities of AI, educators, administrators and policymakers can create more personalized, inclusive and effective learning experiences that prepare high school students for success in college, careers and beyond. So rather than avoiding AI, try to learn more about its use and consider attending conferences like FETC that can serve as useful resources for learning more about the future of technology.
Dr. Monica Goldson is the retired Chief Executive Officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) after 32 years of service. Dr. Goldson holds three degrees from HBCUs – a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in Elementary and Secondary School Administration from Bowie State University, and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy from Howard University. Beyond the schoolhouse, Dr. Goldson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.