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The Importance of Innovation and Diversity in Education: Insights from California EdTech Leaders

May 3, 2023

Tech & Learning Summit at the KCI

The KCI was recently buzzing with excitement as it co-hosted the Tech & Learning Summit in partnership with the Tech & Learning team, where California EdTech leaders shared insights on the crucial role of innovation and diversity in modern education. With a focus on fostering a culture of risk-taking and collaboration, the summit highlighted the need to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, use open educational resources, and prioritize data privacy. From grant-funded programs to interdisciplinary learning, these experts showcased innovative strategies to improve student outcomes and prepare the next generation of empathetic risk-takers. California is undoubtedly at the forefront of the edtech revolution, and the Tech & Learning Summit was a testament to the state’s commitment to driving innovation in education.

Here are a few  highlights from the event speakers:

Dr. Kristina Whalen, Foothill College’s new president, emphasized the importance of innovation in education, particularly through grant-funded programs such as credit recovery and acceleration, early college models, and hybrid programs. 

Innovation and diversity are two critical aspects of modern education that have become increasingly important in recent years. California is at the forefront of the edtech revolution, with many of its educators leading the way in developing new strategies to improve student outcomes. Collaboration with K-14 districts is also essential to promote innovation in the education space.” – Dr. Kristina Whalen

Gay Krause, Executive Director of Krause Center for Learning at Foothill College, welcomed participants to the summit: 

We are thrilled to have hosted the Tech & Learning Summit at the KCI and provide a platform for educators to come together and share insights on how to drive innovation in their school districts. The event highlights the importance of diversity, collaboration, and open educational resources, all of which are crucial to preparing students for success in today’s rapidly evolving world.” – Gay Krause

Carl Hooker, an edtech consultant, emphasized the need to foster a culture of risk-taking and innovation in education. He argues that “the fear of failure is a significant barrier to innovation and that educators need to make failure an acceptable part of the learning process.” Hooker believes that “we need to be asking our students to solve interesting problems and be okay with them getting it wrong.

Lorrie Owens, CTO of San Mateo County of Education, discussed the importance of diversity in the tech workforce. Owens argues that “diversity is essential, not only in the classroom but also among staff members.” Owens advocates for “recruiting and retaining a diverse IT team and building career pathways for diverse leaders.

Eddie Gonzalez, of discussed the importance of open educational resources (OER) in California. Gonzalez emphasized “the need to develop high-quality, open-source resources for California educators, such as video lessons and lesson plans, to improve student outcomes.” See the resources on their website and get involved with the curriculum projects.

Aaron Ragsdale, the Makey Manager at Stanford University, emphasized the “importance of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration in education.” Ragsdale believes that  tools are essential to spark innovation, but they are not the foundation.” He advocates for “starting with a vision of learning outcomes and aligning them with choice and representation.

Lisa DeLapo, Director of Information & Instructional Technology at Union School District in San Jose, highlighted “the importance of data privacy in education.” She stresses “that data breaches can lead to stolen identities and fraud, making it crucial to protect student and employee data.” DeLapo provided resources such as the International Association of Privacy Professionals and Common Sense Media to inform and educate all stakeholders on data privacy.

Greg Pitzer, an edtech consultant, discussed the “importance of professional development in education.” Pitzer argues that “instructional technology professionals are essential in designing effective PD plans for teachers.” He also stresses the “importance of using evaluations to identify areas where teachers want to improve and compensating them for their time.”


The Summit allowed California edtech leaders to provide valuable insights into the importance of innovation, diversity, and collaboration in education. By fostering a culture of risk-taking and innovation, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, and using open educational resources, educators can improve student outcomes and prepare the next generation of empathetic risk-takers.


Learn more about KCI events, workshops, and programs.

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