The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) developed the ISTE Standards, formerly known as the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). These standards affect the way students use and learn from technology inside the classroom and out. The standards promote technological advancement and proactive measures on the part of the teacher to encourage and foster involvement in the digital age. Below are five key aspects of the standards that educators should keep in mind when implementing them into the curriculum.
Though technology is at the root of the ISTE standards, the program is about more than online research and learning to use new media. Three of the five ISTE goals reflect changes in the way students learn in general. This includes teaching based on students’ collective and individual needs, creating a project-based learning environment, and promoting critical thinking skills. The ultimate goal is to get students prepared, at all stages, for a career in a global economy. On a school-wide level, the plan is to create digital learning spaces and teaching models that are appropriate for the time and reflect recent developments in technology.
Teachers and administrators working to implement the NETS in their own schools can turn to various resources, both online and in print. Webinars and online courses can be found at the ISTE website with information on best practices for meeting and using technology standards across the board. Books and courses range from broad curriculum planning tools to specific topics, like blogging and classroom management. One book, “Flip Your Classroom,” recommends that students listen to lectures at home and work on traditional “homework” assignments during school hours with teacher supervision. Unique strategies and practical suggestions make creating a connected and digitally literate classroom feasible.
In order to create the ideal learning environment, the ISTE has developed a list of essential conditions: steps that must be taken by administrators and policy makers so that teachers can effectively run a NETS friendly classroom. Among the conditions required are adequate funding and support from the school, which covers everything from ongoing learning courses to accountability and incentives. The plan cannot succeed without a top-down vision and plan for ISTE implementation; principals and teachers should meet and agree on the practices, staff, and technological tools needed.
One of the most important aspects of the ISTE NET standards is also one of the most overlooked. Though teachers are expected to create a certain environment for the students, they are also required to model that behavior. Educators, in many situations, are a student’s first exposure to digital technology. They have a responsibility to present knowledge and showcase ethical behavior. The new generation is faced with almost unlimited access to information and media; now they can learn about intellectual property and piracy as they learn how to cite their sources. Teachers also model lifelong learning by keeping current with new technologies and show students that education is a process.
There are several learning models that tie together technology and creative thought:
Digital tools enhance and add to student’s inherent creative skills. By creating a safe online space for exploration, teachers can encourage students to try new things and innovate.
The ISTE standards can seem imposing at first. The requirements and goals are numerous and cover a wide range of skills and topics. Fortunately, there are many resources available to clarify the program, which ultimately boils down to a quest for improved learning in an era of faster-than-ever information availability. It represents a change from old-fashioned ideals of lecture and repetition toward collaboration and classroom problem solving, made easier through new technology.