From Apps to A.I.: Using Tech to Personalize Learning

This past summer it was announced that my old school, Quest Academy in Palatine, Illinois, would be partnering with Microsoft on a project to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) curriculum. Quest is the first K-8 school to work with Microsoft on such a project as it seeks to offer a “forward-thinking artificial intelligence curriculum,” for its students, according to Annabel Hasty, Quest Academy lower school music teacher and AI instructor.

It’s an exciting development for the school. But long before this leap into AI, Quest had to take steps to better understand how technology could be used effectively in the classroom. And that is a journey of which I was fortunate enough to be part.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” — Helen Keller

Helen Keller’s words capture the feeling in my heart when I embarked on an unexpected journey into technology in the late fall of 2000. I was pursuing a Palm, Inc. and SRI Intl. grant for two classroom sets of Palm IIIc’s, then cutting-edge mobile technology that could be used in both my third-grade classroom and my colleague’s third-grade room at Quest Academy in Palatine, Illinois.

Based on suggestions from colleagues and parents of my current and former students, I planned out how the technology could support my curriculum and, in the process, found my first collaborative partner, a software engineer whose child was in my class.

She was enthusiastic and encouraging when I described the curriculum focus of the proposal and recommended applications that would suit my instructional goals. She offered to modify the app, HanDBase, a relational database manager for mobile devices, which would allow me to enter my third graders’ math chapter goals into the ...


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About Cathy Risberg

Cathy Risberg is an educator, consultant, and published author, and the owner of Minds That Soar, LLC. Certified to teach K–12, she has 15 years of teaching experience in public and private schools, the last 10 as a classroom teacher in a school for the gifted and talented. A parent of three gifted adult children, Cathy has served as an adjunct faculty member for the Technology in Education program at National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois. She is a member of both National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Illinois Association of Gifted Children (IAGC) and presents to various educational and professional groups.