Jan 23 2009

Tech Standards for Teachers

Having educational technology standards in place benefits everyone: students, teachers, colleagues and the community.

At the beginning of the decade, the International Society for Teacher Education (ISTE) released standards identifying the skills and knowledge that teachers need to succeed in a technological environment.

The resulting National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS•T) acknowledged the ongoing pedagogical shift away from the teacher as provider of knowledge and expertise through static, text-based learning materials to the teacher as facilitator of collaborative learning through a variety of media-rich, interactive and authentic educational experiences.

Since then, rapid advances in technology and potential methods of teaching and learning have placed new demands on educators and students. With the development of Web 2.0 resources such as blogs and wikis, the proliferation of K–12 one-to-one programs and the widespread use of cell phones — now and in the future — teachers will be challenged to move away from models of teaching and learning as isolated endeavors.

As they model learning that reflects inventive thinking, creativity and instant communication, teachers must become comfortable as collaborative co-learners with their students and with colleagues around the world. Leaders must demonstrate a vision for technology infusion and help teachers develop technology-based learning skills.

Updated in 2008, NETS•T identifies critical professional behaviors and responsibilities that teachers must embrace to encourage their students’ wise and strategic use of technology resources for learning; and to guide teachers in changing the way they teach, the way they work and the way they learn in this increasingly connected and global digital society.

Effective teachers must apply the standards as they design, implement and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues and the community. All teachers should meet the following standards:

  1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity. Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
  2. Design digital-age learning experiences and assessments. Teachers design, develop and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments, incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes identified in the National Education Standards for Students, or NETS•S.
  3. Model digital-age work and learning. Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.
  4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility. Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their practice.
  5. Engage in professional growth and leadership. Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning and exhibit leadership in their school and community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

The NETS•T document also includes related teacher performance indicators describing performance expectations, scenarios of standards application in classroom settings and rubrics for assessing each standard and indicator.

Implementing the Standards

Today’s teachers must provide learning environments that take students beyond the walls of their classrooms and into a world of endless opportunity through effective infusion of relevant content with up-to-date and emerging tools and resources. This classroom transformation is imperative for ensuring that digital-age students are empowered to learn, live and work successfully today and in the future.

Two essential conditions critical to this transformation are up-to-date professional growth opportunities, hardware and learning resources, as well as well-qualified, persistent technology leadership at the school and district levels.

ISTE has collaborated with educators worldwide to identify factors that contribute to effective implementation of technology for teaching and learning.

This list of “essential conditions” describes the environment that schools and classroom teachers need if they are to successfully demonstrate their mastery of the standards and develop learning environments conducive to powerful applications of technology, and also the strengthening of students’ creativity and innovation.

The NETS•T Essential Conditions for the effective use of technology are:

  • Shared vision
  • Empowered leaders
  • Implementation planning
  • Consistent and adequate funding
  • Equitable access
  • Skilled personnel
  • Ongoing professional learning
  • Technical support
  • Curriculum framework
  • Student-centered learning
  • Engaged communities
  • Support policies
  • Supportive external context

To provide teachers and other education professionals with opportunities to share resources and strategies, ISTE has established a wiki at http://nets-implementation.iste.wikispaces.net.

This resource includes videos of NETS•S in action, scenarios of successful strategies addressing each student standard, implementation examples by grade level and standard, lesson plans, resources for developing lesson plans, and rubrics shared by teachers and other educational technology professionals.

What’s Next

In addition to the technology standards for students and teachers, ISTE has also developed additional sets of standards and resources specifically for administrators (NETS•A), school-based technology facilitators and district-based technology leaders.

The NETS•A standards identify what school administrators should do to support integration of learning technologies in their schools and districts. The current NETS•A will be revised for release in summer 2009.

The ISTE Technology Facilitation and Technology Leadership standards identify criteria for programs that prepare teachers to serve in leadership roles, and they are managed through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Current versions of the ISTE/NCATE standards for Technology Facilitation, Technology Leadership and Secondary Computer Science Education programs will be revised by ISTE for release in fall 2010. All ISTE standards are developed through an inclusive process of broad-based input (face-to-face forum meetings and online input) from the professional communities affected by each set of standards.

Setting Standards for Students

ISTE released the second edition of the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) in 2007. The standards focus on preparing students to learn effectively and live productively in today’s emerging digital world.

  1. Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  2. Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively (including at a distance), to support individual learning and to contribute to the learning of others.
  3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information.
  4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
  5. Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural and societal issues related to technology, and practice legal and ethical behavior.
  6. Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.