Do we need tech standards?

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On my way to our technology standards meeting and there is something not sitting well with me. I can’t put my finger on it but I just keep asking myself:

Do we need technology standards?

The new NETs for students look good. But I can’t help but think that we are focusing on the wrong thing. If technology is a tool and not a curriculum why do we need standards?

I’m struggling with this. If you can help me please do!

[tags]NETs, standards[/tags]

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. I think that to some extent we need standards to make sure that the tools are well taught. Until technology becomes as well accepted as a tool as reading, writing and math we need standards as a goad for teachers and administrators who will not support technology without external presure.

  2. I’m on the fence. It’s that horse built by committee thing.. On one hand, I’m constitutionally opposed to bureaucracy and what better breeding ground for jargon and spin than a committee on standards? On the other hand, without standards … without a bar, what passes for basic understandings is up to each teacher and has as many gaps as teachers have individual preferences. Standards provide guidelines for instruction and more importantly scope and sequence over time. So I guess I have to go with standards.

  3. The word standards scares me in an educational context. It often presumes all kids learn the same way, all teachers teach the same way. Yet that’s not what education or technology is about. Technology standards also presume that all schools are outfitted with the same technologies. Now there’s a thought! I like the notion of guidelines, frameworks, or suggestions for integrating technology into the curriculum which I think NETs literature is ultimately handy for. There are many ill-informed teachers and administrators and thus I believe NETs is both trying to acclimate/initiate those people and provide evidence for those people in the know who are trying to get tech integrated throughout varying curriculae. I can appreciate where both Alfred and Audrey are coming from in their comments above. It is a discussion well worth digging into.

  4. Jeff: we have standards in our district, and they serve to ensure an equitable experience among all students, as best as we can manage. They provide a framework and a context for what we do with technology, and they serve to establish a grounding for our professional development plans. They are based on three domains:

    1. Technical literacy: do you know how to use the tools?
    2. Problem solving: do you know how to use the tools to answer questions of importance?
    3. Ethical and Responsible Use: can you do so in a socially-acceptable manner.

    Only one section is focused on the actual technology, while the other two apply that technology in a methodology that supports life-long learning. Let me know if you want a copy, and I’ll send them.


  5. The question is not do we need technology standards. The question is what are standards? They are basically rules that govern what we teach. Quite frankly, I’m thankful we have them because I don’t think I would be able to convince teachers to integrate technology without them. They know the students need to know how to use a variety of software and create multi-media presentations, but to many, too many, it is just fluff.

    I agree. Until all see the value, we must have technology standards.

  6. Kim sums it up well. I agree with Alfred and Audrey’s comments above, as well.

    Some of us are visionaries, and want to use the tools to invigorate our teaching and learning in our classrooms, etc. etc.
    Others don’t see the point, and will drag their feet unless there is some sort of pressure. If that pressure resembles the kind of pressure that we’re feeling in the curricular areas, tech standards are probably very helpful. When more teachers come around to “getting it”, maybe some important changes will have taken place, like:
    •More schools having the appropriate amount of the tools themselves, tech support, and training
    •Teachers not caring about the tech standards, but instead pushing some of the skills/tools down even younger than the present standards call for.

    This is a conversation worth having.

  7. Jeff: I also struggle with the concept of standards in terms of transplanting NETS into an international environment. I believe we need to develop in-house scope and sequence documents that reflect the curriculum objectives of the school for digital and information literacy. Here at International School Dhaka I am now using NETS-S as a guideline for this after abandoning the somewhat reckless task of trying to adopt it in full, round peg in a square hole story. Essentially, what ever your curriculum and skill-set development is based on all teachers need to agree and be on board otherwise it becomes a worthless document.

  8. Reece Lennon Reply

    Sorry for the late response but I’ve been disconnected for a while. At any rate, the purpose of standards, as I understand them, at least in part, is to ensure that knowledge, skills and understanding are taught in schools in a logical and meaningful way (vertical and horizontal scope & sequence).
    And if life long learning is a “skill” and using/evaluating the internet effectively requires “knowledge”, and a student’s ability to “understand” the differences between reliable, bias or false information is something that develops over time, then why wouldn’t we insist on standards.
    I understand and share your concerns but I don’t think the problem stems from the concept of having standards themselves; instead I think it stems from how the standards are written. Having been involved in curriculum development at two schools already in two different systems (US & MYP) for SS and now being faced with writing or adopting standards for IT at my current school this year, I’m wondering what must the standards focus on, how many benchmarks need to be included, is content even relevent, what will this look like on my curriculum map and will the curriculum coordinator really understand what it is the IT department is trying to accomplish in the school?

  9. Pingback: NETS Refreshed-Do we need tech standards? at The Thinking Stick

  10. Arnold Kriegbaum Reply

    Tech is a set of tools. And as you suggest, it is not normal to have to have a set of standards for “tool usage”. However, consider the tools being discussed here.

    The level of complexity of the ed. tools currently in use makes should be equated to other complex tool usage, not using a hammer for a carpenter or a wrench for a plumber.

    There are standards for radiologist (or people die), there are standards for ship captains (or boats crash. I could continue.

    Ed. tools are equally complex. I have students that would look at the bottom of the page at the curvy letters to verify a “human” comment and not know what to do (and I am writing this in 2008, AND I teach high school in the USA).

    I guess my only problem with the idea of these standards is the constantly moving nature of tech will make any “standards” look out of date, especially with the glacial speed of most standard implementation.

    I appreciate your emotion on this topic.

  11. Pingback: Standards and Benchmarks are Crap | The Thinking Stick

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