When I entered the world of K12 Human Resources in 1985, one of my first experiences was having the opportunity to attend GASPA at the Columbus, GA Hilton. Our personnel conferences at the time were extraordinarily beneficial to someone entering K12 for the first time as well as veteran practitioners. In 1985, many of the sessions on the conference program centered around recruitment, teacher shortage fields, certification, substitutes and how to leverage the latest and greatest technology: memory typewriters, facsimile machines, rudimentary word processors and the IBM Personal Computer XT running PC-DOS.
Thirty-Four (34) years later, the GASPA Spring 2019 Conference provided all of us with outstanding learning opportunities to help us with ongoing compliance related issues, while challenging all HR professionals to more effectively manage multi-generational workforces, employee engagement and providing increased focus on service and leadership. We also had many great opportunities to visit with our exhibitors and business partners looking for technology-based and other solutions to many of the “pain points” we experience on a daily basis as well as to network and share best practices with each other.
During the drive home I began to reflect on how far GASPA has progressed as an organization over the past several decades and where we should focus our attention over the next 5 to 10-year timeframe. First and foremost, we know that we must acquire teachers with the talent, skill and competencies to prepare our students for the future, even though we don’t know which jobs will be in high demand. We do have some sense of what’s coming with the increasing need for students that can code, who can understand neuroscience, and can navigate complex scenarios involving psychology, ethics and systems thinking.
In 2019, the Rand Corporation published “Artificial Intelligence Applications to Support K-12 Teachers and Teaching.” The author discusses several ways that AI applications will be used to support the work of K-12 teachers and the practice of teaching by augmented teacher capacity rather than replacing teachers. Several studies indicate that the role of a teacher may evolve to a socio-emotional focus while Artificial Intelligence Avatars will take on a greater role in delivering content, checking homework, grading papers, analyzing data on each student, identifying gaps in knowledge and suggest where extra tutoring would be of help.
Over the past two years I have been following the work of Ashok Goel, Professor or Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at Georgia Tech. In 2015, Professor Goel and a group of graduate students began building an Artificial Intelligence teaching assistant based on the IBM Watson platform. In January 2016, “Jill Watson” began providing responses to graduate student questions through email. Students in the course were unaware that “Jill” was not a real person. If you would like a deeper understanding of how Jill works and what is possible for K12, I have provided a link to a TED talk by Professor Goel.
What will this mean for teacher development and initial preparation? What skills and competencies will teachers need and how will districts upskill teachers in order to prepare students for a world that is fundamentally transformed in the way we work? How will this transform our workforce needs? Will school districts and colleges become sufficient agile organizations that can change quickly to the changing workforce needs and demands?
Certainly there are more questions than answers at this point with emerging technologies.
One thing is certain, Artificial Intelligence promises a future where the machines and systems will oftentimes be smarter, faster and more powerful than those who created them. This certainly has significant implications for K12 HR and GASPA.
I am exceedingly optimistic that over the next decade GASPA will take on a strategic role to develop change management solutions for this “new frontier” and the impact it will have on talent management and development, organizational culture, ethics, legal and other K12 HR systems.
Time is of the essence! Let’s get started! See you in Fall 2019!