Orange County Department of Education Harnessing AI to Transform Teaching and Learning

Wes Kriesel and Kunal Dalal, newly appointed administrators of artificial intelligence and innovation at the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), are pioneering a shift in educational culture towards integrating AI into pedagogy, emphasizing a mindset change over the mere adoption of new tools. Their focus is on humanizing technology, utilizing AI to enhance the human aspects of education rather than replacing them. Their backgrounds—Kriesel’s in educational technology and school model innovation, and Dalal’s journey from science through wilderness guiding to education technology—fuel their mission to leverage AI for improving teaching and learning in Orange County.

They advocate for understanding AI not as a conventional tool but as a transformative force capable of making learning more personalized and accessible. Through engaging with educators, families, and community partners, and providing targeted training sessions, they aim to foster a mindset where AI is seen as an ally in education. Their approach includes beginning with transactional uses of AI to build comfort before advancing to transformational applications.

Kriesel and Dalal address the educational potential of AI by personalizing learning experiences, as illustrated by a student’s improved creativity and academic performance through the use of ChatGPT. They emphasize the need for educators to adapt to AI, offering training that shifts perspectives towards empowerment and collaboration. Ethical considerations, such as privacy, data security, and AI bias, are central to their work, with an approach grounded in responsible and informed AI use.

Their initiatives, including the upcoming “AI Days” and collaborations with OC AI Forward, aim to demonstrate practical applications of AI in education and foster a culture of innovation. By debunking myths and addressing concerns about AI, they strive to showcase its potential for enhancing creativity and redefining educational roles. Their vision for successful AI implementation is an education system where technology enriches student-centered learning, ultimately making their roles obsolete as the integration of AI becomes seamless and universally beneficial.