Whiteboard Advisors’ very own Erifer Fernandez Reyes and Evo Popoff co-authored this year’s “State EdTech Trends Report” from SETDA. The report – which featured a foreword by Kirsten Baeslar, North Dakota’s Superintendent for Public Instruction – found that there is growing demand from district leaders and educators for AI guidance, but very few active AI initiatives at the state level.

Further federal guidance may be on the way. At last week’s Holon IQ “Back to School” Summit, Kristina Ishmael, Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology, indicated that a White House executive order on AI was in development, while pointing out how complex and challenging federal policy development on the topic can be.

Why it matters: Conducted in April and May 2023, the survey serves as a time capsule of a period when schools were figuring out how to respond to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, and cyberattacks reawakened concerns over schools’ abilities to protect students’ data.

Cybersecurity topped the list of technology-related priorities among state officials, reflecting ongoing concerns about potential data breaches at the start of the new school year.

What they’re saying: According to InnovateEDU founder and CEO, Erin Mote, “Education stakeholders considering safe, ethical use of AI should be paying close attention to both the EdSAFE SAFE Benchmarks Framework and Senator Schumer’s SAFE Innovation Framework For Artificial Intelligence, which are designed to offer space for innovation, while also establishing guardrails and guidelines to ensure protection of civil rights.

“AI isn’t one thing– it’s everything from autofill to interactive co-creation. We need a shared understanding of the breadth of AI in order to create policy and practices that foster responsible development and use of AI in education.” said Teddy Hartman, Head of Privacy and Trust at GoGuardian.

What’s next: In the coming year, SETDA and Whiteboard Advisors will prepare for the third annual survey and report, aiming to gather insights as school systems face the looming expiration of pandemic-era stimulus ESSER funding