Back To Basics: ISTE Standards for Students

What does effective technology integration look like?  Am I integrating technology appropriately?  How can I tell if elements of a lesson employ technology beyond replacement?  What is the next step I should take when implementing technology?  Will I know transformation when I see it?

These are some of the questions that come to my mind when I strive to be specific about instructional technology.  While attempting to answer these questions, it is easy to become quickly inundated with sources, opinions, examples, lesson plans, and philosophies–some of which do not always agree.  One of the best sources I have found as a starting place to answer these questions is the ISTE Student Standards.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) “serves educators around the world through professional development, advocacy, and the creation of standards for teachers, administrators, coaches, and students.”  The ISTE Standards are not meant to be an evaluation tool, but rather a source of guidance when asking the question “Am I effectively integrating technology into instruction?”  Think of the Standards as a compass that can help keep us on the correct instructional course, rather than a stopwatch that enforces deadlines and specific requirements.  As we strive to move beyond using technology for only replacement purposes, the ISTE Standards can serve as a guide to advancing our technology integration to the next level.

“The ISTE Student Standards describe the skills and knowledge [students] need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital society.”¹ The Standards are organized into six broad categories, with sub-standards in each group.  You can view the Standards on the ISTE website along with other supporting material including the ISTE Standards Student Profiles (the link is on the left column).  These profiles contain a few sample activities that illustrate the Standards across grades PK-12.

The Standards are focused on student knowledge and skills rather than specific technology tools.  Due to this careful planning, the Standards do not become dated as hardware and software are replaced.  The Standards are also broadly written to facilitate teacher independence and freedom.  If you are reading through the Standards for the first time, you will quickly realize that the Standards can be met through a wide variety of activities, projects, and technology tools.  You are likely already meeting many of the Standards through the activities and projects you currently facilitate in your classroom.