Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The ISTE Standards for Students: The Groundwork for What's Possible in Learning

The ISTE Standards are about pedagogy, not tools. It seems that the field of education has finally realized that throwing digital tools into classrooms without support and expecting magical changes in instruction and student outcomes is illogical. The ISTE Standards for Students provide a framework for in-depth learning, using technology to strengthen learning. The ISTE Standards support and deepen the learning derived from other content-area standards, making them not an additional set of standards, but rather a useful guide for supporting and deepening any educational content or initiative. The ISTE Standards serve as a groundwork for what’s possible in learning using technology.

Changes Over the Years

It’s interesting to reflect on the reasons for the changes to the standards over the last 20 years. In 1998, technology was primarily used in computer labs and students were taught how to use software focused mainly on productivity. Flip the calendar to 2007 when technology on mobile carts became increasingly available, as well as access to the internet. The emphasis shifted to using technology to teach critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Fast forward to today to see devices in the hands of students. Technology is no longer seen as optional. New designs for learning and teaching support personalized learning and connecting with others across the globe.

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students  

Empowered Learner
The standards were designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process of exploration, creativity and discovery. They include a strong emphasis on empowering students to have a voice and choice in their learning.

Digital Citizen
Human life is no longer solely digital or physical; it’s a hybrid. Students grow up immersed in technology but they don’t automatically understand technology’s drawbacks — or opportunities. Students must learn to use technology in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.

Knowledge Constructor
Although it is quick and easy to find a multitude of resources for a research report by doing a quick Google search, it may not be the most effective strategy for locating accurate and relevant information. Students must know how to employ a variety of methods and tools to find information, make sense of it, and produce creative artifacts for themselves and others.

Innovative Designer
Historically, the teacher has been the sole designer of learning experiences. It’s more important than ever for students to identify and solve problems in imaginative ways. This involves testing theories and developing perseverance when working on open-ended problems.

Computational Thinker
One might speak of coding skills when explaining the meaning of computational thinking, but it’s more than that. Computational thinking involves formulating ideas and procedures with enough clarity that one could break down tasks enough to tell a computer how to do them. Knowing how to leverage technology to develop and test solutions will likely be useful in all occupations.

Creative Communicator
Communicating learning by turning in a research paper to the teacher or reading information off a presentation slide is insufficient. Students must be able to choose appropriate tools for the need and use and/or remix visuals, models and simulations to communicate ideas to a variety of audiences online and offline.

Global Collaborator
There are many kinds of digital tools that can be used to broaden student perspectives and enrich learning by collaborating with others from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

The Challenge
The ISTE Standards for Students is all about good instructional practices. You obviously cannot focus on all of them during every lesson, but think about the experiences your students have had in your classroom over the course of the semester. Try to identify specific learning experiences your students have had that align with each standard. If there are gaps, you’ll know what kinds of goals to set for yourself and your students in the future.  

ISTE Standards for Students 2016. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

Redefining learning in a technology-driven world; A report to support adoption of the ISTE Standards for Students June 2016. Retrieved from


This will also be published on MACUL Community.