Technology Standards for Students: Moving Beyond Using Technology to  Transformative Learning

By Chief Technology Officer, Jamie Lewsadder

Last summer, the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) released an update to their Standards for Students. First published in 1998, with a goal of helping students learn the basic skills of tech use, the latest version offers a stretch for even the most savvy student, techie teacher, or driven district. 

iPhone displaying iMessage conversation

LCUSD has been busy laying the foundation for growth in technology the last four years, focusing on updating our outdated classroom technology (we had desktops older than 7th graders in our classrooms!), designing a network that offered a secure environment without impeding learning, and shifting from tech as a management tool to an instructional tool. If you’ll permit another lap around memory lane, five years ago wifi was new to our district and hardly used. Today we have, on average, 1200 devices connected. 

timeline of ISTE standards

I want to connect this growth and change in our little corner of the world with the shifts we see in the new technology standards for students. We began our upgrades with device acquisition, skill building, and network infrastructure. We began our classroom experiences with learning to use the tech and now see learning in action with the technology. But if we stop there, according to ISTE, we are back in 2007. 

The new 2016 ISTE Standards represent a reach goal for all of us and allow us the opportunity to engage in purposeful learning actions with technology. For example, the first standard, Empowered Learner, calls for students to “leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.” Wow. Let’s unpack that. Students set learning goals, choose how to measure success, and then make choices based upon understanding how learning works. Easy. 

The standard continues with four indicators that expect student goal setting and reflection, building learning networks, actively seeking feedback to improve, and understanding core tech concepts along with obtaining troubleshooting abilities. Oh,  and then transferring said knowledge to those emerging jobs that haven’t been invented yet! Maybe I need to retract my comment about easy. That’s only the first of seven standards, but we got this. 

Over the last four years, aside from the device and network transformation, the technology department has been working on reviewing the technology standards embedded in Common Core (read the document produced by Fresno County Office of Education and see some of the reading, writing, listening and speaking standards that have technology components) in order to create a vertically articulated guide to technology expectations by grade level. We studied some other districts, like Long Beach Unified, and built upon their great work. One major difference in our efforts was weaving in the ISTE Standards. The overall product has changed authors, format, and content each year as we tested lessons or debated language. This school year has been devoted to a road show with teacher leaders to workshop the guide. 

Our work here will guide the technology department in terms of goal setting for the network, professional development offerings, parent tech academies, and how we measure success. Read our take on the Empowered Learner standard for K-5 and 6-12.  

Here’s the challenge I would like to issue to our students, teachers, staff, and parents.
All of us should examine how we can use technology to achieve our personal learning goals. We should all have an understanding of how we best learn. We should all seek feedback to improve. We should all have a basic sense of troubleshooting. And we should be able to apply this knowledge to the new things we encounter. I guess this is going to be easy after all.