Navigating the Future of Work and Education with AI: Interview with CIO Robert Dickson

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and education, artificial intelligence (AI) has forced us all to rethink our approach to how we work, and how we learn. And to reevaluate what it means to prepare for the future of work. Today’s guest, CIO Robert Dickson from Wichita Public Schools shares how he helped his organization, with 50,000 students, and 10,000 employees, transition from personal to enterprise adoption of AI.

Navigating the Future of Work and Education with AI: Interview with CIO Robert Dickson

In this episode, you’ll hear how one organization made the transition from AI apps to AI systems. And the impact that has on teaching, learning, strategic planning, and many other areas.

As we step into a future where technology transitions from being just tools to becoming our teammates, understanding the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in shaping this landscape is more crucial than ever. Recent insights from LinkedIn’s “Future of Work Report: AI at Work” highlight the profound impact of AI on the workforce.

Conversations around AI have increased globally by 70% on LinkedIn, indicating its rising prominence in the business and cultural zeitgeist. This trend is echoed in the job market. In fact, 55% of LinkedIn members globally are poised to see their jobs change due to the emergence of generative AI. Notably, 74% of U.S. executives believe generative AI will benefit their employees. Which reflects a strong positive sentiment toward AI’s integration in the workplace.

The Integration of AI in Education

In today’s educational landscape, AI’s role is increasingly pivotal. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school will end up in jobs that don’t yet exist. This highlights the need for adaptive learning technologies. AI tools, as Rob Dickson effectively implements in the Wichita Public Schools, are redefining what’s possible in education by providing personalized learning experiences.

In the episode Dickson shares, “When you start with AI, you start at 80%… it’s about accelerating outcomes and rekindling aspirations.” This reflects the shift towards a more tailored and effective approach to education. And can keep pace with rapid technological advancements.

At a time where teachers are often feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and experiencing burnout, the teachers at Wichita share an inspiring and optimistic outlook on what’s possible when you integrate AI as a member of your team. You can read more about their experience in this customer story published by Microsoft.

AI’s Impact on Strategic Planning and Decision Making

Another episode highlight is listening to Dickson share how strategic planning amongst his leadership team is being reshaped by AI. LinkedIn’s data suggests a growing demand for AI skills in the workforce. This underscores the need for educational strategies that align with this trend. Dickson’s use of a GPT model in educational planning demonstrates how AI can aid in analyzing complex data. Which leads to more informed and strategic decisions.

As he reminds us, “Navigating AI integration requires trust, adaptability, and a proactive mindset,” highlighting the essential attributes for leaders in this new era of education.

Challenges and Opportunities

The integration of AI in education is not without its challenges, such as ensuring digital literacy and protecting data privacy. However, the opportunities it presents, like enhanced personalized learning, are significant.

With the World Economic Forum estimating that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines. And LinkedIn sharing that 65% of skills will change by 2030, the role of AI in education becomes crucial in preparing students for a rapidly evolving job market.

Preparing for the Future Workforce

AI is not just changing how we learn; it’s redefining the very nature of work. The World Economic Forum predicts that 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms.

This shift underscores Dickson’s point: “AI’s role isn’t just in the classroom; it’s about shaping the future workforce.” Education systems must evolve to equip students with the skills to navigate and succeed in this new world of work.

When we contemplate the shifting landscape of skills and the advent of emerging technologies, the focus often narrows to students and their educational journey. However, the reality of our rapidly evolving digital world demands a broader perspective. Today, the need to adapt and learn transcends age and occupation. It encompasses everyone from seasoned professionals to those just entering the workforce. The continual emergence of technologies like AI doesn’t just reshape the tools we use. It redefines the very nature of work and learning. Embracing lifelong learning is no longer a choice but a necessity for all. To stay relevant and thrive in an ever-changing professional environment.

Related: How These 3 Skills Help You Unlock Your Human Advantage in an AI-Driven World

AI and Design Thinking in Educational Leadership

In reimagining the role of AI in education, it’s crucial to move beyond merely using applications to understanding and designing AI systems. Design thinking plays a pivotal role here. And enabling organizations to identify AI use cases that streamline tasks, enhance efficiency, and boost productivity. This approach not only saves time but also allows individuals to focus on what matters most: creativity and innovation.

Microsoft’s insights on the future of work underscore this need. They report that 68% of people find meetings inefficient, leaving little room for innovation. This is where design thinking can make a significant difference. In how your organization uses AI to accelerate its ability to achieve outcomes.

A practical example of this is a design sprint we led with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). By bringing together a cross-collaborative team, the sprint focused on AI literacy and safety, identifying use cases leveraging AI to reimagine administrative and learning processes, and using design thinking to create practical, impactful use cases that could be tested and iterated upon.

In this video Dr. Ramon Miramontes, and Deputy Superintendent and Dr. Sonia Llamas, Associate Superintendent of Education Services from OCDE, share their experience on why collaboration drives their work. And how design thinking and AI can work hand-in-hand to support all communities across Orange County.

Connect with Robert Dickson

You can connect with Robert on LinkedIn here. We’d love to have you join the conversation. Share your takeaways and questions with us so tag us and share. We hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Designing Schools.

I’m Sabba.

I believe that the future should be designed. Not left to chance.

Over the past decade, using design thinking practices I've helped schools and businesses create a culture of innovation where everyone is empowered to move from idea to impact, to address complex challenges and discover opportunities. 

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