The Next Big Thing

Since tapping into the power of the Internet as a paradigm shifter in K-12 education in 1993, I have been looking forward to seeing when and how AI will further disrupt the model and catalyze the next shift.

Just as the Internet made many of us re-think the assumptions of time and place in our definition of school, ChatGPT should have us re-examining our beliefs about meaning of learning and pedagogy.

ChatGPTmay be it.

Learning is more than just the acquisition of knowledge and facts. It is all about how you can apply what you know.

After my district created our model of the Student Centered School in 1993 (the subject of many previous posts) and became a founding member of the Virtual High School Global Consortium in 1995, we began to follow the work of kindred leaders and organizations on the bleeding edge of innovation. Among them were Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn of the Clayton Christensen Institute.

From their work in Disruptive Innovation, we learned that “the new product or service is initially not as good as the traditional product or service. Disruptive innovators take root in simple, undemanding applications in what is a new level of competition – where the very definition of what constitutes quality, and therefore what improvement means, is different from what quality and improvement traditionally meant.” “Disrupting Class,” Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, Curtis Johnson McGraw Hill, 2011, 2008 pages 47-48

Consequently, traditional school districts will be slow to adapt and adopt a changing definition of quality and improvement, just as many have failed to embrace the power of the Internet. For some districts, the pandemic years did not result in “COVID loss.” For too many, remote learning meant doing the same things they had been doing, only with teachers on a screen rather than in front of a class. No changes in pedagogy, no consideration of the 3 C’s of Connection, Collaboration, Create. And learning suffered.

Good is the enemy of great.

We also followed the work of Willard Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education. Key to us was their Rigor and Relevance Framework. It guided our work in curriculum development, instructional strategies, differentiation, and authentic assessment.

The ability to apply what was learned to real-world, unpredictable situations was our goal, and based on evaluation by staff from the Center, our students achieved it.

Yes, today ChatGPT is imperfect and flawed. We are not totally aware of all the implications that it brings. But it, and programs like it will get better.

We owe our commitment to incorporating the power of AI into our schools to the current and next generations of learners, today! We, and they cannot again wait until it is “perfect.” Let’s not repeat the mistakes many have made by waiting for a “pandemic” before moving to the next paradigm.

We can do better, and we must!

And so it goes…

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