Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What the heck is ISTE NETS and why do I care?

TCEA 2007: ISTE Standards Meeting Tuesday February 6 2007

I would not have gone to this session had it not been for my convention running buddy, soon-to-be DR Holly Weimar. It sounded boring, and as a rule, discussion of standards makes my head swim. Especially in early afternoon, when my spoiled noggin craves a nap. But she talked me into it. “We NEED to know this,” she said. “It’s FREE,” she said. Well, OK I thought, upon hearing my favorite four-letter-word-that-starts-with-F.” So we joined an ominously small gathering of folks in a large room filled with round tables. The paucity of attendants did nothing to dispel my notion that this was going to be boring. BUT IT WAS NOT! (I should add here that more people came in after we arrived, anyway).

My first clue that the meeting would not be dull was discovering that it would be a working session. I had just arrived at the convention center and had not read up on the event in the program, so I did not know this already. We were to be seated by our grade level interest: elementary, middle grades, or high school. Holly and I chose middle grades because that was the level at which we had both worked most recently in public school. Our colleagues at the table were district trainers, teachers, and technology specialists. They were an impressive group. One member had come all the way from Wyoming just for this particular emphasis on standards since she was involved in refreshing the tech standards there.

Our charge was to look at existing ISTE NETS and suggest how they should be updated. We were encouraged to either reword or even delete existing statements, and also add anything additional that we viewed as important. I confess to being in the dark at first, not even knowing what ISTE NETS stood for. Yes, of course I had heard of ISTE and knew it was an organization promoting technology, but had not really thought about what the initials meant. I was even more in the dark about the NETS. So I was tabula rasa regarding everything we covered. I learned the translation for the acronyms:

  • ISTE stands for: International Society for Technology in Education.
  • NETS: Stands for National Educational Technology Standards

Because these standards are so well crafted, they have been adopted by many states, including Texas. Our job was to look at the draft of revisions of the ones set forth in 1998.

In case you are similarly superficial in your understanding of ISTE, here is a self-description from their website:

“The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the trusted source for professional development, knowledge generation, advocacy, and leadership for innovation. A nonprofit membership organization, ISTE provides leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in PK–12 and teacher education. Home of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), the Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET), and the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), ISTE represents more than 85,000 professionals worldwide. We support our members with information, networking opportunities, and guidance as they face the challenge of transforming education.” (http://www.iste.org/Template.cfm?Section=About_ISTEv)

First we had introductory remarks from ISTE’s leadership, CEO Don Knezek, Refresh Project Directors Lynn Nolan and Lajeane Thomas, and then we set to work discussing the standards. Our group was very congenial, but of course we were middle school folks. People who work with this age group have got to stick together! At first I was still leery that this was just an exercise, but came to realize that our suggestions were really important. They had had a similar meeting recently in Florida and clearly were taking the suggestions seriously that came out of that event. Early on, I became aware that there was an important omission. There was no real mention of the need to promote respect for intellectual property! This tenet is, of course, basic to librarianship. I had a hot idea to offer! This HAD to go into the document! My cohorts agreed and we came up with a statement that went something like this:

“Students demonstrate respect for intellectual property, including awareness of copyright and plagiarism issues by citing sources and producing original work.” I think it got tweaked a bit more but that is close. I got so excited that I brought out my virtual traveling companion, Nancy Pearl, Librarian Action Figure. When it came time to share, I got to present this new component and also introduce Nancy. She was a big hit as always, and I really think this additional standard will be included. I felt like a kid at show and tell, and for this contribution I was given a door prize, a fantastic book by Jim Lerman called 101 Best Websites for Secondary Teachers.” Other people had already earned prizes and I had spotted this book as one they were going to give, and had already wished for it!

As the meeting continued, a number of other suggestions were made. Some came out of the small groups, and some evolved from discussions offered when the group as a whole shared ideas. All the input was turned in at the end of the meeting, and I was sure by then that our voices had been heard. The meeting concluded with a photo op for Nancy Pearl with our presenters! Look for it to be posted soon. I am now looking forward to the completion and publication of the new, improved ISTE NETS.

If you would like to add your input or learn more about this project, go to this web site: http://cnets.iste.org

Hint: I went there this morning (Feb. 13) and it was down. I am sure they are revising and will revisit and you should too. In my mind I am thinking…maybe right this minute they are adding my idea!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary Ann,

    Are you an ISTE member and a member of the SIGMS (Special Interest Group for Media Specialists)? If not, please consider joining us.

    Please help me campaign as well to integrate/coordinate the AASL and ISTE standards. It's a pet peeve of mine that we have two sets of student IL/IT standards that are so close in content!

    All the best,