Discover AI’s Present & Future in Education @ IETC 2023

29 Aug 2023 7 min read
Sam Fishel
Sam Fishel
Digital Content Manager, Learning Technology Center
Joe Fatheree
Joe Fatheree
Educator & AI Luminary,

Artificial intelligence is here, and unlike what you’ve seen in the movies, it isn’t coming to destroy humans – it’s coming to disrupt our classrooms. Should teachers and education leaders be excited, afraid or maybe a little bit of both?

No matter how you slice it, there is a lot of buzz around AI right now – especially in the K-12 education community. This year at IETC, our statewide community has an exciting opportunity to cut through that buzz and start a meaningful conversation about AI’s emerging impact in Illinois classrooms during the inaugural AI in Education Summit.

“This is not the Jetsons. This is happening now.”

Joe Fatheree

During this special event, teachers and education leaders will move past talking about the latest AI tools and lean into timely, education-focused conversations, including how K-12 stakeholders can craft effective AI policies that foster ethical use, equitable access, and future work readiness.

Even if you’re new to AI in general, this summit will offer a welcoming space to learn how current students are already harnessing AI and grow more aware of how this computing revolution will shape learning in the years ahead.

A Local Voice at Center Stage

When it comes to understanding such an impactful shift in education, nothing beats relatable experiences shared by a homegrown voice.

That’s why IETC is honored to have 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year Joe Fatheree leading our inaugural AI in Education Summit.

An Effingham native, Joe is an internationally-acclaimed AI researcher and visionary. Thanks to his 30+ years of experience as a classroom teacher, Joe remains firmly rooted in the real-world implications of AI’s widespread rollout, ensuring that the educators he works with are mentally prepared to tackle AI’s complex challenges and potential.

As he continues his research into the effects of AI on human cognition, Joe will bring his down-to-earth perspectives to IETC’s center stage. Through him, attendees can sharpen their awareness of AI’s emerging presence in their personal and professional lives, as well as discover strategies for shaping AI-related conversations back in their home districts.

Becoming and Remaining Aware

School districts in Illinois and beyond are struggling to wrap their minds around AI’s transformative potential. Between AI’s emergent nature and rapid evolution, most educational stakeholders are still left wanting for tools and schema to safely implement AI in a learning environment.

With this need in mind, Joe will focus the first half of his talk on simple awareness – where AI is now, what it is capable of, and how it is already being utilized in medicine, agriculture, and other industries. 

From there, attendees will dive into the future of work, including how AI may impact educators’ work and the skills students will need to succeed in an AI-supported workforce.

Starting an Ethics-Centered Conversation

Beyond awareness, Joe will also focus in on the question at the heart of education’s AI conversation – how can schools ethically utilize AI to enhance learning opportunities?

Like so many other parts of the AI conversation, there are no easy answers here. Joe believes that if you’re trying to find the singular “right” answer, you might end up flat-footed as AI’s evolution continues apace.

Instead, he wants to encourage education stakeholders to start crafting durable solutions that meet their teachers’ and students’ unique needs. Rather than opting for a one-size-fits-all solution, questions like these can help your district establish ethics-based trail markers that guide productive policy discussions: 

  • Why are we bringing in AI tools? What educational goals do they help us meet?
  • What criteria are we using to evaluate individual AI tools?
  • Who is helping craft AI policy? Do we have diverse voices contributing to the conversation?
  • Are there some educational spaces where AI should be intentionally excluded?

Extra Credit

You don’t have to wait until the AI in Education Summit to start (or continue) your AI journey. Here are some of Joe Fatheree’s top AI-related media recommendations for curious educators like you:

The Fourth Education Revolution

Sir Anthony Seldon & Oladimeji Adiboye

Your Undivided Attention

Podcast hosted by Tristan Harris & Aza Raskin

A Front Row Seat to the Future

At IETC 2023, edtech’s bright present and future will be on full display. In addition to the AI in Education Summit, join your fellow educators for three days of learning and networking centered on the tools and strategies needed to bring tech-powered learning to life.

Right now, get an Early Bird discount and save up to $50 on your full conference ticket, which includes access to every workshop and session plus two must-see keynotes – all led by edtech enthusiasts, educators, and innovators like you.

Sam Fishel
Sam Fishel
Digital Content Manager, Learning Technology Center

Sam leads and supports the execution and growth of LTC services through the development and creation of innovative, impactful, and timely digital content.

Joe Fatheree
Joe Fatheree
Educator & AI Luminary,

Joe Fatheree is an award-winning author, educator, and filmmaker. He has received numerous educational accolades, including being named one of the Top 10 Teachers in the World in 2016 by the Varkey Foundation. He is the 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year and the 2009 recipient of the National Education Association's National Award for Teaching Excellence. Fatheree was a founding board member of Advance Illinois, an independent education advocacy and policy organization, and served as the director of strategic projects for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). Fatheree also spent 30+ years in the classroom as a full-time teacher at Effingham High School in Effingham, Illinois, where he taught innovation in a classroom filled with student imagination, creativity, and a desire to change the world.