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ISTE Certification helping create a critical mass of change agents

By Joseph South
June 17, 2019
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A year ago, I made a bold promise at the ISTE conference. I said I’d buy a Philly cheesesteak at ISTE19 for every ISTE Certified Educator there if we reached 1,000 ISTE Certified Educators in a year’s time. I thought I had about a 50-50 chance of having to pony up the cheesesteaks.

Turns out, I was a little off. And by a little, I mean a lot!

Just one year after the launch of ISTE Certification for Educators, over 1,500 educators, school and district leaders, edtech coaches, PD professionals, school librarians and media specialists, and even higher edu­cation faculty have enrolled in the program. To meet the accelerating demand, we’ve partnered with 13 Certification Authorized Providers (CAPs) that are offering training in all 50 states and the Asia-Pacific region, with more international CAPs coming soon.

We’re pleased by the interest in the program, of course. But what’s really ex­citing is the feedback we’re hearing from participants.

Many say they’re learning more about reimagining pedagogy with the innovative use of technology than they have from any other source. That ISTE Certification is making them stand out among their peers in their schools for their knowledge and expertise. That the process gave them insight into themselves as an educator and a person.

So what’s the draw of this competency-based, vendor-neutral certification? It’s about change.

Some participants tell us they want to earn ISTE Certification as part of their personal growth trajectory or to prepare for future leadership roles. Some come as leaders who are dedicated to making second-order change across a school or district. Some districts are signing up entire cohorts to take the certification as a team so they can create a critical mass of forward-leaning influencers prepared to shepherd change with colleagues.

We think there’s another appeal to ISTE Certification for Educators. The recogni­tion that if we want to make real change in education, if we truly want to transform our schools, we need to set a bar for what every educator needs to know about teaching and learning with technology. While the ISTE Standards have provided a vision for what that should be, there hasn’t been a program that could fully fulfill that vision. Until now.

We want to be clear that ISTE Certification isn’t tech training. Training on how to use a particular set of technology tools is helpful, but it isn’t enough. Our professional development focuses on key pedagogical approaches to strategically us­ing technology for learning. It’s about the learning, not the tools.

Best of all, when you jump in, the ISTE Certification process comes with a community to support your professional development, provide mentorship and collaborate in making real change in education, whether that’s in your classroom or across an entire organization.

At its core, ISTE Certification helps PK-12 educators rethink and redesign learn­ing activities with technology to engage students in real-world, authentic, active learning.

It’s hands-on PD that’s for educators who want to learn, change and perhaps be­come systems change agents as well.
And that’s resonating.

I guess it wasn’t about the cheesesteaks after all.

Joseph South is ISTE’s chief learning officer.