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Five reasons why the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students matter

By Sarah Stoeckl
July 13, 2016
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Many people thought we were crazy when ISTE announced a refresh of the ISTE Standards for Students. Some felt that the 2007 student standards were still relevant, and others thought that the world did not need another set of guidelines for educators to follow. But after surveying the education landscape, ISTE saw a need for the standards to reflect not only the current state of education, but also its future.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students matter:

1. Because empowered students are prepared for the future.

We’ve all heard about students being unprepared — for higher education, for the ever-changing workplace, for life in the digital age. On top of that, concerns about access and equity continue to surface as tech becomes more embedded in K-12 education.

But recent research suggests that students who develop agency, or a learner-driven approach, are empowered in their educational and personal pursuits and are better prepared to thrive. A study from the Raikes Foundation in partnership with The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University highlights the importance of this approach, asserting, “Young people from every background deserve teaching that enhances their agency.”

Share the ISTE Standards with your students and download the free 'I am a digital age learner' classroom poster.

2. Because human life is no longer solely digital or physical — it’s a hybrid.

Students today grow up immersed in technology but they don’t automatically understand technology’s pitfalls — or its opportunities. The Atlantic article “Digital Natives yet Strangers to the Web,” advocates for a proactive shift in how we teach digital citizenship and the role of the internet in human life. It cites teacher Reuben Lowey who argues that students should not just understand the potential dangers of the digital world but “they also need to deeply, holistically and realistically understand how the digital world works behind the scenes.”

3. Because it’s about the teaching, not the tools.

Even as schools become more tech-infused, education is still striving to achieve the promise of technology to truly transform learning. Technology is a reality but students and teachers need new ways to envision its purpose and possibilities. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan, released by the U.S. Department of Education, states, “Learning principles transcend specific technologies. However, when carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology has the potential to accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of powerful principles of learning.”

4. Because being a global citizen is no longer optional.

Thanks to technology, we now live in an age where collaboration can and does happen between individuals living around the world, and people can share and communicate with a global audience in an instant.

Furthermore, many of the problems we face today are global and require international perspectives and consensus-building to solve. Today’s children will contribute and grow within this landscape. As the United Nations’ Global Education First Initiative states, “The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. … Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies.”

5. Because students care about their lives and learning, and the role of technology within both.

To honor the momentum we’ve seen around empowering students, ISTE needed to hear student perspectives on the draft standards. We put together a feedback packet and encouraged educators to use it to get their students’ take on the standards. Student feedback so far has been insightful, critical, fun and thoughtful. What have the students said?

  • “The standards are ambitious but very accurate. Most of these apply to the real world very well.”

  • “I wish... we could practice these standards in all [our] classes and that the teacher would make it interesting and relatable.”

  • “I wish that we lived in a world where setting learning goals is more important than grade goals.”

  • “Although these standards are for students, some of these are almost unattainable because the teachers do not set up conducive environments in which the standards can be used.”

These most important stakeholders think the standards matter. And so do we.

Learn more about the new ISTE Standards for Students, and download the ebook to start embedding the standards in your classroom or school today.