Dec 07 2023

CITE 2023: Attendees Reflect on AI Learnings and Other Takeaways

Artificial intelligence was a predominant theme at this year’s event, with many K–12 IT professionals taking a closer look at its influence across educational technology.

Some IT professionals came to CITE 2023 looking for it; others found it inescapable once they arrived, but many attendees agreed it was the prevailing theme of this year’s conference: artificial intelligence.

One year after OpenAI released ChatGPT, IT and education leaders are still feeling its effects. AI is touching all aspects of educational technology, from classroom learning to school infrastructure.

Levar Burton, actor and CITE 2023 keynote speaker, spoke on the technology in his conversation with moderator Edie Lambert Thursday. “When we use technology with discernment, we can’t help but win,” he said. “We have no idea some of the benefits we will derive from this technology.”

Attendees in Sacramento, Calif., were drawn to different AI-adjacent technologies and topics at this year’s event. They learned new insights from vendors and school leaders, and many planned to bring their knowledge back to their schools for implementation.

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A Place for Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity Conversations

Christine Jones, technology coordinator for Palmdale School District, came to CITE 2023 hoping to learn more about AI and student data privacy.

“I really liked the session by F3 that talked about some of the legal responsibilities we have regarding AI and keeping kids and their data safe,” Jones said.

On Tuesday, Jones presented a session on vetting applications to secure student data. She wasn’t the only conferencegoer interested in the intersection of AI and cybersecurity.

“AI is going to have tremendous impact on K–12 across the country. It’s interesting to see where everyone’s going with that, especially with cybersecurity,” said Craig Allen, technical support specialist for San Joaquin County Office of Education.

He mentioned that AI in cybersecurity was of particular interest to him because his office had recently hired a cybersecurity architect.

“The good news is we’ve seen such a variety of sessions, so there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” Allen said.

Artificial Intelligence as a Component of Networking

Cloud-focused sessions were also a popular topic at this year’s event, particularly as companies begin using AI in their infrastructure offerings.

KEEP READING: What can cloud services do for your K–12 organization?

“It expanded our knowledge base,” Kyle McCans, technical support specialist for San Joaquin County Office of Education, said of attending the conference for the first time this year.

He called out AI’s integration into networking and cloud-based storage as an area where he was able to learn something new to take back to his organization.

Guidelines on AI for the K–12 Classroom

Sessions at this year’s CITE conference also engaged with the idea of using AI as a beneficial tool in the classroom. Davis Joint Unified School District’s Instructional Technology Director Scott Thomsen came away from the event with an understanding of AI’s potential.

Levar Burton headshot
When we use technology with discernment, we can’t help but win.”

Levar Burton Actor and CITE Keynote Speaker

He attended sessions that talked about helping teachers grapple with the new tech and explore its timesaving capabilities that can “write rubrics and develop quizzes based on standards.”

“It’s nice to be in a space where education is being not disrupted but influenced by new technologies,” Thomsen said.

New Tools and Ideas for Digital Learning Environments

While AI was the buzzword at this year’s event, it wasn’t the only topic of conversation at sessions and among conferencegoers.

Jones mentioned that she also found esports sessions particularly noteworthy at this year’s event. “I went to a couple sessions on esports,” she said. “We’re going to take that information back and do something with it.”

RELATED: Female coaches reveal best practices for middle and high school esports.

Jose Sanchez, IT support specialist at Five Keys Schools and Programs, was in a similar position after his first CITE conference. “It’s all new. It’s all exciting stuff, and hopefully I can put it to good use,” he said.

As for what Sanchez found to be particularly memorable and useful for his district: “I attended a Chrome OS management session. That’s a lot of good stuff for me to know since we have plenty of students who are on Chromebooks now.”

Deanne Lashin pivoted from a focus on AI, which she expected to find the most useful, to topics that aligned perfectly with her role as technical support coordinator at San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

“I really enjoyed the sessions on student wellness, digital tools and helping parents and the community understand how digital literacy can support our students,” she said. “It’s one of my responsibilities in my district, so it was nice that they had some of those options.”

Bookmark this page to explore our CITE 2023 conference coverage and join the conversation on X (formerly Twitter) when you follow @EdTech_K12 and use the hashtag #CITE2023.

Photograph by Rebecca Torchia
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