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Edtech Advocacy &
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Democracy and Technology: What We Need for Future Innovation

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Location: Room 389-90
Experience live: All-Access Package
Watch recording: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package

Participate and share : Interactive session

Dr. Michelle Zimmerman  
In February 2021, the Munich Security Conference met to discuss the future of global security. While it may seem unrelated to many educators' and schools' planning, the type of innovation the U.S. is known for cannot continue to thrive without the crucial role in sustaining and facilitating a strong democracy.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Principals/head teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Advanced
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Internet access
Topic: Safety, security & student data privacy
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Cultivate responsible online behavior, including the safe, ethical and legal use of technology.
Visionary Planner
  • Evaluate progress on the strategic plan, make course corrections, measure impact and scale effective approaches for using technology to transform learning.
  • Communicate effectively with stakeholders to gather input on the plan, celebrate successes and engage in a continuous improvement cycle.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

- Education is designed to be positioned to help sustain a democracy
- External factors outside our control highlighted and amplified vulnerabilities education leaders already knew existed
- The global crisis has created a level of upheaval in what appeared to be a century-long stable education system (although there were known flaws)
- With K-12 education not typically considered a vulnerability for advancing science in the way research universities do, K-12 are not typically on the radar for national security as a vulnerability
- For the first time in history, we had the highest amount of remote students with the power of technology in their hands without adequate training.
- Social media, AI algorithms can easily profile users and direct content that amplifies negative emotions and drives division
- Driving division and extremism with very little resources becomes a method of getting citizens to attack themselves without needing external weapons.


Julius Caesar Quote. What does Julius Caesar have to do with AI?
What does Shakespeare's work do to help us contextualize leadership challenges now?

Session begins by asking participants to talk to someone near them about an instance of extremism, bias, or division that originated though social media or was amplified through the internet.

Laying out the problem - How Education is currently a wide open vulnerability that both Education Leaders and National Security have not yet become aware of as each domain is focused on putting out what appear to be larger fires.

PBS Hacking Your Mind video clips.

Examples of social media that evoke strong emotion among educators (and examples of public posts by educators).

Defining state actors and an overview of cybersecurity that extends beyond password protection and email hacking.

How global tragedy becomes the perfect informal pilot study with no cost or effort to observe how people respond, who is the easiest target, who are the best people to weaponize to amplify a message. How this can and already has infiltrated into our classrooms.

This technique is not new. The book Active Measures reviews a history of misinformation, disinformation and approaches that most people are unaware of. Now, the difference is our access to technology, and the AI algorithms that can collect data on us much quicker.

How bringing training for staff about AI, bringing awareness, and training, is one step in strengthening vulnerabilities, and prepare young people for a future where health care and pandemics, school and learning, and warfare will all be different than future generations.

Supporting research

Examples of supporting research are included in this post:

Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare




An example of introducing these topics for an educator audience:

More [+]


Dr. Michelle Zimmerman, Renton Prep

Michelle Zimmerman, author of Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning, published in 4 languages, was selected as 2021 ISTE Visionary Leadership, 2019 EdTech Leadership Awards Global Leader finalist and selected 6 consecutive years as Microsoft MVP. She teaches middle and high school while serving in administration at Renton Prep, a Microsoft Showcase School. Her PhD in Learning Sciences and Human Development is from University of Washington, and her research has been recognized with multiple awards. Since 2007, she has presented around the world. You can find her in Forbes, GeekWire, Venture Beat, Getting Smart, local and international news.

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