A National Perspective on EdTech and What’s Ahead | Kristina Ishmael


In this episode of Build Momentum, Sarah and Katie are joined by Kristina Ishmael. Kristina is an educator, learner, advocate, and agent of change. As the Deputy Director of the Office of Ed Tech, she executes the office mission of developing national edtech policy that enable everywhere, all-the-time learning and support digital equity and opportunity.

Kristina is also listed in the 30 K-12 IT Influencers Worth a Following 2020 by EdTech Magazine.

Some Questions We Ask:

  • How was it that she started in education and ended up in edtech? (1:35)
  • What’s a typical day in her life? (7:02)
  • How and when does she work with edtech providers, developers, and entrepreneurs in the field? (17:01)
  • Are there any more products on tutoring companies and social-emotional learning companies? (21:54)
  • Any advices or ideas for school districts on prioritizing investments? (24:39)
  • What is the future of education? (27:23)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Kristina Ishmael’s journey from education to edtech (1:50)
  • Kristina’s daily routine (7:06)
  • How her team structures its work to ensure they stay up to date on edtech providers, developers, and entrepreneurs within healthy boundaries (17:22)
  • About  artificial intelligence and its future opportunities (22:12)
  • Her advice and ideas for school districts (24:51)
  • About the future of education, with a focus on AI and machine learning,and how educators are involved in the process (27:51)


“It's not necessarily just making sure that everyone has access to the same things, we know that [is important], but the things that they need, that are going to meet them where they are. And so we talk a lot about that.”

“I was really cognizant about coming back into government because I don't really think there were a lot of healthy boundaries the last time that I was in this role. There were expectations for communication at any time of the day and night or early morning. And I was like, ‘We're not doing that.’ And so we helped establish healthy boundaries.”

“I'm really eager to see where AI is going to take us. I know that there are risks. Don't get me wrong. Perhaps it's the optimist in me, but I just see all of the opportunities that are going to come with this as well.”

“I saw what technology could do in the hands of my multilingual learners when I was in the classroom—not only for language acquisition but for content acquisition as well. It is a tool. It is not meant to substitute for the teacher. And as we are developing our report on AI and education, the phrase that we keep coming back to is that ‘the human in the loop.’”

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About "The Secret to Transformational Leadership," which Sarah co-authored with Dr. Quintin Shepherd: