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Because the world is changing, so are the ISTE Standards

By Carolyn Sykora
May 8, 2015
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Growth is a key attribute of the contemporary world. According to Our World in Data, in just 100 years — from 1900 to 2000 — the world population increased from 1.5 billion to 6.1 billion. That’s a rate three times greater than the growth that occurred during the entire previous history of humankind.

Technology is ushering in a similar magnitude of change in new knowledge. NPR recently reported that by some estimates, the entire body of medical knowledge doubles every three to four years. And medicine is by no means the only industry on this trajectory.

So how do we prepare students in a world that’s changing so rapidly and where knowledge evolves at an overwhelming pace? As K-12 educators, where do we start?

First standards addressed the how

In 1998 the original ISTE Standards for Students were published to provide an onramp to the “information super-highway.” The emblem for this time period was the computer lab. At the time, technology teachers taught students how to use computers, which was the focus of the original standards.

When the current standards were released in 2007, their focus shifted to using technology to learn. The emblem for this iteration was the mobile cart. Teachers working with any age group and teaching in any content area could reserve a mobile cart to execute a lesson or unit plan in the classroom.

Now the emblem has changed again.

As a growing number of schools move to 1:1 environments, students have access throughout the day to devices that allow for technology-powered pedagogy not previously possible. The emblem is the mobile device. Helping students and teachers capitalize on the potential of what they hold in their hands will be the goal.

The ISTE Standards for Students, with the support of the teacher, administrator, coach and computer science educator standards, set a vision for what is possible with technology for learning. They help navigate a crowded ed tech space of devices, environments, applications and apps to promote purposeful, meaningful and effective approaches to learning, teaching and leading. According to the 2014 Results from the SIIA Vision K-20 Survey, systems to support technology-rich and standards-ready schools are gaining ground, but achieving this goal will be a challenge.  

Standards refresh requires many voices

To meet this challenge, ISTE is planning to refresh the ISTE Standards for Students. This year-long process launches at ISTE 2015, and we hope you will join us. We need many voices and stakeholder groups to weigh in to help define the priorities for learning with technology. Over the next year, ISTE will reach out in person and virtually to education constituencies from around the world to seek input and feedback for what is essential in these refreshed standards.

As I contemplate what the new standards will look like, I am reminded of the rapid acceleration of knowledge, and I wonder how the standards will address this sea of change. What needs to be represented in these new standards? What’s required to help students adapt to quickly changing and growing bodies of knowledge? How do we, through these standards, build a student’s love of learning and knowledge of how to learn?

Please join us for the launch at ISTE 2015. If you can’t make it to the conference, look for ISTE at various other conferences over the next year, and keep an eye out for the numerous virtual events and surveys we’ll be hosting to ensure that your voice is heard.

Carolyn Sykora is the ISTE senior director for standards. She served on the ISTE Standards Leadership Team during the revision of the ISTE standards, including the student standards in 2007, the teacher standards in 2008, the administrator standards in 2009, and the technology coach, technology director, and computer science educator standards in 2012.