In the dynamic landscape of education, the interplay between humanity and technology is an ever-evolving narrative. The recent Learning Leadership Symposium at Portland Public Schools shed light on this intersection, in a presentation by Kevin Crotchett, Director of Learning Technologies, PPS, Jen Hopkins, Technology TOS, PPS and Ryan Hoxie, Technology TOSA, PPS. In their presentation, Jen, Ryan, and Kevin delved into the theme of "Being Human Alongside Tech." This article explores their insights and reflections on the integration of technology in education.

Jen Hopkins initiated the conversation, articulating the team's shift from "becoming human alongside technology" to "being human alongside technology." The emphasis on being human implies a more natural and authentic connection with technology, acknowledging its pervasive presence. The team grapples with the impacts of generative AI, prompting them to continually ask, "What does it mean to be human alongside technology?" They stressed the need to keep this question at the forefront to empower educators, ensure AI serves as a tool for knowledge expansion, and maintain human influence to reflect real diversity.

To glean insights from educators worldwide, Jen and Ryan conducted surveys, asking teachers what being human alongside technology meant to them. Responses from different states and countries painted a nuanced picture. Educators expressed a spectrum of experiences, from exhilaration to exhaustion, highlighting the dual nature of technology's impact. They touched on guiding and monitoring technology to ensure human connection, the challenges of keeping pace with technological changes, and the need to reassess relationships with tech regularly.

Ryan Hoxie furthered the exploration by inviting participants to share their thoughts on being human alongside technology. The responses ranged from acknowledging and acting on fear to questioning the purpose of tools and supporting intent. One participant emphasized the importance of presenting oneself consistently in both digital and physical spaces, delving into the ethical considerations behind our digital actions. Ryan also shared a surprising experiment with word clouds generated by humans and artificial intelligence, illustrating the striking similarity in their responses.

Kevin Crotchett wrapped up the session by reflecting on the mission of education in the context of being human alongside technology. He quoted an educator who emphasized that technology should fade into the background, enhancing and centering the human experience. Kevin highlighted the need to move beyond the surface level of technology integration, urging educators to consider the ethical and societal implications of rapid technological changes. He advocated for a thoughtful approach that goes beyond the SAMR model, emphasizing engagement, extension, and enhancement of student learning.

The Learning Leadership Symposium at Portland Public Schools provided a comprehensive exploration of the human-technology intersection in education. The teams focus on being human alongside technology resonates with the challenges and opportunities educators face in navigating the evolving landscape of education. As we strive for a harmonious coexistence between humanity and technology, these reflections serve as guideposts for educators worldwide. Tune in below to see the full presentation.