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Audience at in-person Emerging Tech Dialogue event

The Emerging Tech Dialogues event on May 29, 2024 -- the first in a new series -- drew more than 750 registrations from Cornell, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech faculty, staff, students, and researchers -- all interested in exploring Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education, the symposium’s theme.

“The ideas driving the new Emerging Tech Dialogues include a recognition of the incredible reservoir of technology talent and experience across Cornell and the search for a means of reconnecting those technology supporters and advocates across the broader academic and administrative community,” said Ben Maddox, the Chief Information Officer for Ithaca and Cornell Tech.

Maddox believes that engaging the full Cornell community to learn about and incorporate appropriate emerging technologies will boost the transformative power of technology to empower Cornell’s mission and values to 'do the greatest good'.

He said, “Our vision is to create a platform that would not only foster a culture of collaboration and shared learning but also serve as a catalyst for innovation. During this inaugural event, I hoped to see a convergence of interests and diverse perspectives, leading to actionable insights that would propel us towards a future where technology meaningfully benefits our academic and administrative excellence.”

Crowd gathers for first Emerging Tech Dialogue event

Positive, Overwhelming Response

His hope was fulfilled, both in terms of audience registration and the breadth of topics presented. The overwhelming response to the first event, Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education, evidenced the community’s keen interest in engaging with one another and emerging technologies.

The morning keynote by Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science Dean Kavita Bala launched a rapid exchange of ideas. Reflecting on the day's conversations, Bala said, "The potential impact that generative AI can have on teaching, research and administration is significant. In this very fast moving field, events like this are critical to share what we learn and build best practices by leveraging our community's experience. I was excited by the energy and interest among the attendees to experiment with Gen AI and look forward to seeing how these experiments develop."

Rob Vanderlan, Executive Director for Cornell's Center for Teaching Innovation, facilitated a breakout session to discuss AI in the classroom. He said, "For a topic like generative AI, with so much happening and no real certainty about where we are heading, the opportunity to learn from a wide range of people working in the field, and to engage in informative conversations with colleagues from across Cornell, is invaluable. It is reassuring to learn from each other."

Presenting his AI in Education poster from a Weill Cornell Medicine office in New York City, Director of Educational Computing Doug Cohen demonstrated how rapidly another emerging technology - Zoom - has been adopted in academia. He said the May 29 symposium "exemplified our approach to continuous learning, sharing, and tackling the tough conversations about technologies that impact our educational environments. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to continue participating in the future." 

"The event provided a fantastic opportunity for the wider IT community at Cornell to connect with IT colleagues from across the university, catch up on their latest projects, and engage in discussions about emerging technologies," said Laura Landphair, Executive Director of Information Technology for the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. She led an in-person breakout session and many of her college's IT team members appreciated the ability to participate in all the activities via Zoom.

Building on Success

Maddox plans to build on the success of the May 29 event, continuing the momentum with a series of workshops, learning opportunities, and discussions that delve deeper into specific areas of emerging technology. 

 “Our next steps include establishing a framework for ongoing collaboration, identifying opportunities for strategic investment, and creating a roadmap that aligns with Cornell’s mission to ‘do the greatest good,’” he said.

“It was heartening to see such a rich tapestry of ideas, showcasing the depth of interest and the potential for cross-disciplinary innovation within our institution. The palpable excitement leading up to the event was incredibly inspiring. It reinforced my belief in the collective passion and intellectual curiosity that thrives at Cornell, and was a powerful reminder of the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.”

Watch the Emerging Tech Dialogues webpage for an announcement about the next event, tentatively planned for October 2024. The event planning committee is currently working to get videos of the keynote speakers and some of the other activities published on the IT@Cornell website. These videos will be available with a Cornell or Weill Cornell Medicine login.



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