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ISTE Standards meet the global test

By Ali Bin Abdul Khaliq Al-Qarni
June 23, 2014
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Under the auspices of the Arab Bureau for Education in the Gulf States (ABEGS), ISTE has embarked on a five-year commitment to help the Gulf States introduce the ISTE Standards through a coach-the-coach program, allowing certification with an ISTE/ABEGS Coaching Certificate.

With representatives from Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen, ISTE recently completed its first coaching pilot program and is now preparing to help Gulf State ministries implement an Arabic language-based professional development program.

The pilot program held in Qatar, a reflection of coaching programs ISTE will launch throughout the Arab Gulf States, included six face-to-face workshop days, a 30-day online course, classroom activities and self/peer and faculty evaluation. Throughout the program, ISTE focused on three principles: professional learning programs should be educationally rigorous; these programs should extend over time to allow theory and practice to merge; the programs must allow mentors and coaches to share their wealth of experience by working directly with participants.

The ABEGS/ISTE Coaching Certificate Program was designed to recognize aspiring coaches/mentors who successfully demonstrate competencies embedded in the program. These initial competencies based on the ISTE Standards for Coaches include: the design and implementation of technology-enhanced instruction and assessments based on learner-centered strategies; the implementation of technology-powered innovations in pedagogy to differentiate learning based on learning styles, readiness and personal goals; the use of online and blended learning to expand opportunities for learning among teachers and school leaders.

The program made use of local, Gulf States curricular resources and Arab language-enabled digital tools. Student-centered learning, and connections to curriculum and the standards, provided the foundation for the program, with themes and activities to support that effort. A number of themes were interwoven programwide such as: engagement, student ownership of the learning process, problem solving, collaboration/communication, multi-tiered assessments, evaluation of the effectiveness of activities and classroom management.

Feedback from the 25 participants was highly positive and noted the relevance of the content, the Arabic content, the use of Arabic-speaking presenters and the high level of achievement that was expected. Feedback from the ISTE faculty included a focus on the high-level engagement of the participants and the common focus on student engagement and improvement.

In addition to the new coaching certificate, it must be noted that ISTE's Standards are referenced in numerous countries, allowing ministries of education to develop consistency in methodology and employers, teachers, administrators and, in some cases students, to move from country to country knowing they have met a certain set of recognized standards.

The bottom line is that the ISTE Standards have become the backbone for many international educational administrators as they procure or develop professional development programs and courses. Intertwined with the ISTE Essential Conditions, these standards are seen by many as a foundation for improving technology education in classrooms around the world.