The Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, our state’s educational technology lead, unanimously adopted the ISTE Standards for Students last year and the ISTE Standards for Educators last June, becoming the first state to do so in both cases.
We see the ISTE Standards as masterful personas that define how students and teachers should use technology to support learning. They strike just the right balance between descriptive and prescriptive, making them relevant for years to come, regardless of current technology trends.
Connecticut is “all in” on endorsing the standards, but that step remains relatively easy compared with the bigger challenge – ensuring their application in every Connecticut classroom.
Doing so starts with positioning the ISTE Standards as complementing and reinforcing existing frameworks and best practices. They speak to many aspects of the Common Core, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and American Association of School Librarian (AASL) standards, for example, as crosswalk analyses have shown. And the successful adoption of proficiency-based, project-based and blended learning approaches – as many of our districts have done – depends on students and teachers mastering the creativity, collaboration and critical-thinking skills the ISTE Standards espouse.
So what’s our game plan for putting the standards into practice?
In Connecticut, we’re engaging key leaders and stakeholders – from the Connecticut State Department of Education and State Board of Education to our ISTE affiliate, superintendents, boards of education and educators – to make the standards part of learning and teaching. This work represents a key part of our five-year state educational technology plan and will take place on a number of fronts:
Teacher preparation. Work with teacher preparation standard-bearers and institutions to integrate standards into preservice frameworks and programs.
Accreditation. Encourage district accreditation bodies to make the demonstration of ISTE Standards part of their assessment rubrics.
Standard set integration. Create crosswalks of the ISTE Standards with other sets already in practice. Better yet, “augment” these other standards with ISTE language and objectives to create unified guides that remain contextually relevant to educators and school leaders.
Advocacy. Through formal meetings and statewide presen-tations, raise awareness of the standards among groups that can champion them with their constituents, including superintendents, boards of education, teacher unions and parents.
Resource library. In tandem with our work around open education resources (OERs), develop a standards-aligned library of digital learning resources that also serves as a community of practice for educators.
Legislation. Encourage members of the Connecticut General Assembly to consider updating graduation requirements to reflect the higher-level thinking skills the standards define.
Educator rubric. Develop a self-assessment educators can use individually or in partnership with their supervisor. This instrument would help gauge their level of mastery in using technology for instruction and provide a clear pathway and supports for improvement.
District policy. Encourage districts and state associations to integrate the ISTE Standards into student and staff policies, resulting in, for example, acceptable use policies that point to best practices rather than penalties for misuse of technology.
None of these efforts – and no single organization, including our commission – can ensure successful adoption of the ISTE Student, Educator and (next year) Administrator Standards. Doing so will require enthusiasm, insight and hard work by the educational community over time. It’s a challenge we’re excited to accept.
Doug Casey is the executive director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology and a member of the Connecticut Educators Computer Association.