‘We’re Going to See Upheaval in Education Over the Next 5-10 Years’

‘We’re going to see upheaval in education over the next 5-10 years with drivers on the political side as well as technological advancements around AI making big changes in what schools look like.’

FUTURE FOCUSED | Kris Hagel

EdTech Digest CEO Victor Rivero has assembled the top education leaders in the country to provide insightful, strategic advice and recommendations to companies so they are powerfully positioned to sell into today’s competitive K-12 markets.

Kris Hagel was recently selected to serve on EdTech Digest’s Future Future Focus Forums (F3) Advisory Board. Educators have been chosen to serve on the prestigious EdTech Digest Future Focus Forums (F3) Advisory Board based on talents, strengths and experiences.

Kris is a seasoned education leader with 24 years of experience in K-12 edtech. He is driven to ensure that all learners can use the technological solutions they need in whatever manner best supports their goals and aspirations. He is skilled in technology architecture and adept at envisioning solutions to problems that require innovative thinking, leveraging a mix of best practices and cutting-edge possibilities.

Currently serving as the Executive Director of Digital Learning at Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor, Washington state just outside of Tacoma, Kris co-led the transition of several departments into a centralized Department of Learning & Innovation and played a key role in implementing MTSS and Universal Design for Learning instructional initiatives. Kris also now leads the Departments of Communications and School Safety/Security.

After being invited to serve on the Future Focus Forums (F3) Advisory Board, selected based on your talents, strengths and experiences, what prompted you to want to really go for it and be a part of F3, and particularly F3—with its product-marketing focus?

“I have been a part of multiple vendor’s customer advisory boards over the years as well as conference sessions like CTOs coaching CEOs at last years ASU-GSV, and I feel that it is really important for solution providers to be able to hear from current or potential customers in a way that can help them provide better solutions to the problems we are facing in K-12 education. Sometimes, vendors can have a great product and just struggle to get it into the right hands in school districts, and other times, they may be struggling because the products just aren’t exactly what school districts need and some minor adaptations can create huge value for the vendor and schools.”

‘Sometimes, vendors can have a great product and just struggle to get it into the right hands in school districts, and other times, they may be struggling because the products just aren’t exactly what school districts need and some minor adaptations can create huge value for the vendor and schools.’

In the course of your work and activities, what to you is the importance of staying up-to-date on products and innovations for learning and education?

“Right now, our district is driving forward on the use of AI in our classrooms, our executive cabinet leaders are being asked to speak all around the country and interviewed by the media constantly. I think that AI – either embedded in current products or building new never before possible products is going to be in the future of most edtech products and it is important to constantly be looking out for what is coming and what might be available.”

Why is it important for senior leadership in companies (founders, product leads, marketing leads) to not only really have a strong sense of what school district technology leaders like yourself are going through and needing, but to connect with them and their realities in the most effective way possible? 

“Ultimately, we are reaching for the same goal, we want products that are going to improve education, and they want the same thing because that’s going to help sell their products and have happy recurring revenue from those products. I have watched companies develop new ideas that start with some really lacking first ideas, but then listening to customers develop those into products or features that can truly make a difference. For senior leadership, so many times they have never actually worked in a school, so their assumptions of what districts need is not always reality. The combination of getting feedback early and often when building out products or features can help drive their development and marketing plans to ensure they are in the best place to sell what they are building.”

There are other meetings resembling F3 in our edtech field – what makes Future Focus Forums (F3) particularly unique and vital? What sets these customized-agenda-driven product-and-marketing / issues-and-challenges -structured focus groups apart and makes them absolutely necessary for company leaders?  

“I think the length of time and ability to really get in-depth is what makes F3 different. I have been on customer advisory boards or attended other events, and when you can only provide feedback or have conversations that are 20 minutes long, you never can really get into the depth of the conversations that can allow you to get to some real deep feedback and changes.”

‘I think the length of time and ability to really get in-depth is what makes F3 different.’

As we look ahead to the future of learning, and considering what F3 can deliver to company leaders, what advice do you have for those leaders to help make them more effective in reaching their goals? Why are these forums so vital to the future? Anything else you want to add or emphasize?

“We’re going to see upheaval in education over the next 5-10 years with drivers on the political side as well as technological advancements around AI making big changes in what schools look like. While typically glacially slow to change, these drivers aren’t going to continue to allow that to happen. Companies need to be aware of that and looking to what is happening to adapt and respond to the changes to ensure their products are best positioned to continue to make a difference in education.”

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Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest and Executive Producer of EdTech Digest’s Future Focus Forums (F3 events). Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

Michael M. Flood is F3 Corporate Advisor. If you are a founder, product lead, or marketing lead and would like to learn more, reach out to Michael at mflood@alpinefrog.net

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