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Apply these two sets of standards for successful tech integration

By Team ISTE
December 4, 2015
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Digital age learning is driven by two facets: the pedagogical side and the wires-and-lights-in-a-box side. But truth be told, you can’t have one without the other.

The ISTE Standards address the pedagogical side of things; they are the clear guidelines for the skills, knowledge and approaches needed for students, teachers, coaches, administrators and computer science educators to succeed in the digital age. The ISTE Standards identify specific learning goals, always with an eye toward effective and appropriate tech integration.

The IMS Global Interoperability Standards address infrastructure, the tools that drive personalized learning and ensure successful tech integration. “These are the standards for how digital tools play nicely with each other, whether its apps, digital content, tools, plugins or learning management systems, so that teachers can use them to build high-quality instruction,” explains Barbara Nesbitt, director of instructional technology at the School District of Pickens County in South Carolina.

School leaders should apply both sets of standards when selecting tools to personalize learning and spur education transformation. Getting there is easy when leaders apply three pivotal recommendations to technology adoption and integration:

Create a strategic vision.

Before developing a tech implementation plan, come up with a shared vision, and a common language for that vision.

“You need that beacon to bring everybody on board and engage them to move the vision forward,” says Mindy Frisbee, ISTE senior project manager.

That vision must include input from all stakeholders (staff, students, parents, teachers and leaders) and should address both an overarching goal for curriculum and an in-depth plan for technology.

“The strategic vision is really about enabling the kind of learning and teaching that meets individual needs,” Nesbitt adds.

The vision is the first piece of the “how are we going to get there” puzzle.

Use tools that have a good track record.

If a district’s goal is to enable personalized learning using technology, applying a whole-systems view is a must.

School leaders can trust products that have earned the ISTE Seal of Alignment and the IMS Global Conformance Certification. In either case, resources that have earned each organization’s stamp of approval are sure to support each set of standards.

Leaders should select technology resources and curriculum through a strategic, districtwide process that meets the learning goals and a shared vision.  

With IMS certification, implementation won’t require custom integration, Nesbitt says. “We know they will work together.”

Bring more people to the table.

A robust, integrated and comprehensive digital age learning environment requires collaboration across departments. Curricular staff can no longer work independently of IT staff; instead, both teams must work together to ensure learning goals are supported by the proper digital resources, Frisbee says.

“What frequently happens is that someone from instructional services goes to a conference or hears about a digital tool and they want that tool purchased, but they may never talk to the IT department that is tasked with implementing it,” Nesbitt says.

This approach is a recipe for failure. Instead, IT and curriculum departments should work together to select digital tools and materials that support the ISTE Standards in the classroom and that are easily maintained at the district level.

Amanda Wylie, a fourth grade math teacher at Six Mile Elementary in Nesbitt's South Carolina district, says it’s important for schools to have user-friendly platforms that are embedded. “There is greater connection between instructional planning, delivery and assessment,” she explained. “Students can have lessons customized and personalized to fit their needs and have access to these lessons outside school hours.”

For a deeper dive into how district leaders can apply the ISTE Standards and the IMS Global Interoperability Standards, download the ISTE EdTekWhitePaper, “A New Paradigm for Decision Making: A district leader’s guide to standards-based technology adoptions and integration.”