Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE

published on 31 March 2022
Richard Culatta
Richard Culatta

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Richard Culatta is the CEO of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), Chair of the Digital Citizenship Coalition and author of Digital for Good. His work at ISTE empowers educators worldwide in their use of technology in the classroom. They accelerate good practice and solve tough problems in education by providing community and a framework to strengthen learning.

Technology Can Worsen Learning

It’s imperative that students are learning on the latest technology to prepare them for the workplace, but Culatta sees many cases where educators use technology to the detriment of learning. “People make the assumption that newer teachers or younger teachers, who are kind of digital natives (if you subscribe to that kind of terminology) are better at using technology for learning it. And that's often not the case.” Culatta explained. 

He suggests there need to be strategies in place around how to use technology. It shouldn’t be left to chance.  “If you just use technology without knowing those strategies, it actually doesn't help. And in fact, some cases it actually makes learning worse.” Poor uses of technology are frequent. For example someone may simply take a multiple choice test, previously done on paper, and upload it to a website as a form. 

So what does a good use of technology look like? In a traditional class a teacher may want students to memorize various rock types. “But a much more powerful way would be to use technology and say, go find examples of those rocks, identify them, take pictures of them, create a portfolio that shows these different rocks and the features in them that really help you identify what type of rock they are.” Culatta explained. “So we've just made that from just sort of a rote memorization of something that has no context for the students,” he said.

The bottom line is this: technology shouldn’t replace experience. It should add a level of experience that was previously impossible.  

AI in Education

AI in education is another area Culatta is focused on. “One of my frustrations is that when people think about AI in education, they often want to talk about some automated robot teacher that just answers everybody's questions.” This isn’t how AI will be utilized in education. At least for now. 

“But we're missing the more important element of AI in education. And that is helping our students learn how to grow up in an AI infused world.” Culatta said on AI to Uplift Humanity. 

“They will be working on teams where not all members of their team are going to be human.” Educators should start working this into their classroom today. “AI is already starting to shape learning and by the day it is impacting and changing learning…there isn't this future moment that's going to happen. This is our world today.”

Listen to the full interview to hear how technology is being used in education today and what the next frontier looks like.

Richard Culatta resources

Learn more about ISTE and their mission here.

Hear Culatta’s thoughts on Digital Citizenship here.

Follow Richard Culatta on LinkedIn here.

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