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  • Writer's pictureJason R. Weber

Greatness and AI

As someone not well-versed in AI, my interest in the topic has drawn me to Boston this week for the KPCEL 2024 Convening on Artificial Intelligence and Practical Wisdom. After two days of engaging with educational leaders far more knowledgeable than I, I've found the experience of making connections and learning immensely enriching. It's my first time interacting with such a large group of educational leaders committed to understanding formative learning in K-12 and higher education, while also exploring how AI can enhance holistic learning experiences.

Reflecting on the insights gained today, I'm compelled to offer another perspective, inspired by Jim Collins' work on greatness in the social sector. Collins' assertion on page 9 of his monograph resonates deeply: "No matter how much you have achieved, you will always be merely good relative to what you can become. Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point."

This notion has been especially poignant in discussions around the role of AI in higher education. While no single perspective has all the answers, a clear dichotomy has emerged: some argue against AI's place in education, while others advocate for its integration.

Regardless of where one stands on this issue, I believe it's crucial to consider how AI influences higher education. In today's discussions, we delved into the prevalent "check-the-box" mentality in many educational institutions. This approach often prioritizes meeting predefined standards or benchmarks, such as graduation rates or aptitude rankings, sometimes at the expense of deeper learning and exploration.

How then do we define greatness? According to Collins (2005), greatness involves a dynamic process, not just achieving predetermined outcomes. While it may seem contradictory to advocate for a non-checklist approach to education while proposing variables for greatness, Collins reminds us that it's about adopting consistent and intelligent methods of assessing outcomes and tracking progress.

If we apply this philosophy to education, the focus shifts from mere outcomes to understanding the impact we aim to make.

During today's conference, I engaged ChatGPT to inquire about greatness in education. The insights it provided resonated deeply, particularly its emphasis on creating environments where all students can thrive and reach their full potential.

For me, greatness in education, as in any organization, is a journey. It requires responsiveness to our environment, a willingness to take risks, and an openness to curiosity.

As we contemplate the integration of AI in education, let's not forget the influence we have on the next generation of leaders. Our attitudes and actions towards embracing change and collaboration will shape their perceptions and approaches to challenges.

In conclusion, I invite all stakeholders to consider how we can leverage AI to enhance critical thinking, expand thought horizons, and foster a culture of curiosity and innovation in education.


Collins, J. (2005). Good to great and the social sector: Why business thinking is not the answer. Boulder, Colo: Jim Collins.

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