Questions have been posed regarding the district’s utilization of the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards. This column will provide detail on what the standards are and why they are being taught.
How were the standards developed? Way back in 1998, ISTE released the first version of student standards. At that time, ISTE was known as NETS (National Educational Technology Standards). The standards came about through a group of forward-thinking educators who wanted to form a framework to provide guidance as educational institutions sought to ensure a relevant and effective 21st century education.
The ISTE standards are just that - standards. They are not curricula. Educators have the freedom to choose how they teach the standards and the standards readily lend themselves to other curricula being covered.
The ISTE standards are not political. As you read through the standards below, it should become apparent that they can be utilized under a very broad set of topics and applications.
The ISTE Standards for Students (2016) are comprised of the following standards:
Empowered Learning: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
- Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
- Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
- Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
- Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.
- Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
- Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
- Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
- Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.
Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
- Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
- Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
- Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
- Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Innovative Designer: Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
- Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
- Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
- Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
- Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
- Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
- Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
- Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
- Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
Global Collaborator: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
- Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
- Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
- Students contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.
- Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.
These standards represent 21st century employability skills and 21st century life skills. In this day and age, some are eager to politicize all aspects of public education. Take any subject you want and you can weave a path until you stop on something that you disapprove of. It’s a new twist on the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. However … knowledge can simply be knowledge and skills can simply be skills. How they are applied is the direct result of the individual. Consider the following examples …
A public school district offers a rigorous math curriculum. A brilliant math student years later decides to use that knowledge to commit tax fraud. Upon studying the case, a group proposes that education should no longer cover math instruction because mathematical knowledge and skills lead to tax crimes.
How about another scenario? Public education allows students to take a driver’s education course. A former student later uses these skills and knowledge to drive the getaway car as part of a bank robbery. A group advocates that driver’s education no longer be offered to students because it leads to theft.
These examples are offered tongue in cheek, but I hope they illustrate the intellectual overreach that can take place when assumed intentions are applied to knowledge and skills.
Those same math skills could be put to use supporting the agriculture industry by calculating seed and fertilizer needed for a 1000 acre field of corn. Those same driver skills could be used to deliver food to shut-ins.
In this day and age, powerful algorithms are used throughout social media to influence what you see and what you believe. They can take us down any rabbit hole we are eager to enter. They use facts to influence us. They may also readily use “alternative facts” - these used to be called lies or misinformation/false information. It is becoming increasingly difficult in some cases to tell the difference between facts and alternative facts. All of this can lead to confusion, misunderstanding and mistrust.
The bottom line - the ISTE standards provide a framework for 21st century education. Our students will have the freedom to apply these skills and knowledge based on their own beliefs and values. Done well, the ISTE standards promote better life skills and better employability skills. That’s why we are in the process of incorporating them into our curriculum.