Information Age Education
   Issue Number 104
December, 2012   

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by Dave Moursund and Bob Sylwester, and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education project. See and the end of this newsletter. All back issues of this newsletter are available free online at

Common Core State Standards
5: National Educational Technology Standards

David Moursund

Emeritus Professor
University of Oregon

This is the fifth IAE Newsletter in a sequence that addresses various issues related to the Common Core State Standards. All back issues of the IAE Newsletter are available free at

International Society for Technology in Education

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), based in Eugene, OR, is the leading professional society for Computers in Education in the United States. It began its work on developing National Educational Technology Standards for PK-12 students in the early 1990s.

In the interest of full disclosure, readers should be aware that I (David Moursund) founded ISTE in 1979 and headed the organization for 19 years. During this time, ISTE developed its first version of Standards for Students (ISTE NETS•S, 2007). Dr. Lajeane Thomas of Louisiana Tech University headed the standards development project.

First introduced in 1998, the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Project is an ongoing initiative of the International Society for Technology in Education. In a unique partnership with teachers and teacher educators, curriculum and education associations, government, businesses, and private foundations, ISTE has responded to calls for educational technology standards, curriculum, and tools with its NETS Project. The primary goal of the NETS Project is to enable stakeholders in PK–12 education to develop national standards for educational uses of technology that facilitate school improvement. The NETS Project works to define standards for students, integrating curriculum, technology, and standards for student assessment and evaluation of technology use. Forty-nine of the 50 U.S. states have adopted, adapted, or referenced ISTE’s NETS in state department of education documents. See

The ISTE Standards for Students Project developed six general categories of desirable student knowledge and skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Quoting from
, these categories were:
  1. Creativity and Innovation: Using creative thinking and innovative technology the students demonstrate and develop models and simulations to explore and identify complex systems and forecast possibilities as well as they use existing knowledge to generate new ideas and creative thoughts.

  2. Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to collaborate, communicate, and interact with other students, teachers, and professionals. They also engage in a cultural and global awareness and contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

  3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to plan, organize, and gather information, in order to be able to inquire, analyze, organize, and evaluate information.

  4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

  5. Digital Citizenship: Students demonstrate personal development to be life long learners because they are aware of the human, cultural and social issues related to technology and they practice ethical and legal digital behavior.

  6. Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations so they are able to select, transfer, understand and troubleshoot various systems and applications productively and effectively.
Notice the generality of statements a-f. There is no mention of specific hardware or software, types of problems to be solved, academic disciplines, or grade levels. There is little indication of how one might go about helping students to learn these general concepts or how student knowledge and skills might be assessed.

These are intentionally broad, general statements designed as a basis for future discussion and action. A somewhat more detailed version of this list is available at

The next step was the development of more detailed recommendations for students in grade levels PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. ISTE did this by giving examples of learning activities suitable for each of the various grade-level bands. To illustrate, learning activities for grades 6-8 (ages 11-14) are given below. The letters in parentheses indicate the general categories of each of the activities. Quoting from (ISTE NETS•S, 2007):

Grades 6-8 (ages 11-14):
  1. Describe and illustrate a content-related concept or process using a model, simulation, or concept-mapping software. (a,b)

  2. Create original animations or videos documenting school, community, or local events. (a,b,f)

  3. Gather data, examine patterns, and apply information for decision making using digital tools and resources. (a,d)

  4. Participate in a cooperative learning project in an online learning community. (b)

  5. Evaluate digital resources to determine the credibility of the author and publisher and the timeliness and accuracy of the content. (c)

  6. Employ data-collection technology, such as probes, handheld devices, and geographic mapping systems, to gather, view, analyze, and report results for content-related problems. (c,d,f)

  7. Select and use the appropriate tools and digital resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and to solve problems. (c,d,f)

  8. Use collaborative electronic authoring tools to explore common curriculum content from multicultural perspectives with other learners. (b,c,d,e)

  9. Integrate a variety of file types to create and illustrate a document or presentation. (a,f)

  10. Independently develop and apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems. (d,f)
This level of detail is still loaded with implementation difficulties for curriculum developers. You can gain some insight into this by examining one section: d. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making from each of the grade-level bands. Here are the recommended standards in two grade-level bands.

Grades PK-2: d. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Identify, research, and collect data on an environmental issue using digital resources and propose a developmentally appropriate solution.

  • Use simulations and graphical organizers to explore and depict patterns of growth, such as the life cycles of plants and animals.

  • Independently apply digital tools and resources to address a variety of tasks and problems.
Grades 3-5: d. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Produce a media-rich digital story about a significant local event based on first-person interviews.

  • Recognize bias in digital resources while researching an environmental issue with guidance from the teacher.

  • Select and apply digital tools to collect, organize, and analyze data to evaluate theories or test hypotheses.

  • Conduct science experiments using digital instruments and measurement devices.

  • Conceptualize, guide, and manage individual or group learning projects using digital planning tools with teacher support.

  • Apply previous knowledge of digital technology operations to analyze and solve current hardware and software problems.
These standards for students also illustrate the depth and breadth of ICT knowledge and skills that their teachers need to have in order to effectively implement the problem-solving component of NETS•S.

ISTE has published a number of books that provide considerably more detail about the NETS for students and about the knowledge and skills teachers must develop to implement these standards (ISTE, 2012).

Teacher Education

From the very beginning of the ISTE Standards project, there was full awareness of the staff development needed to enable teachers to comfortably implement the ISTE Standards. The U.S. Department of Education recognized these difficulties. Beginning in 1999, the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology program provided one-year start up grants and three-year implementation grants to hundreds of teacher education programs across the U.S. See

For years, ISTE has included a strong focus on teacher education in its annual conference sessions, workshops, and webinars. In addition, ISTE has developed National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and supportive materials for educators:
  • NETS for Teachers: The standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge educators need to teach, work, and learn in an increasingly connected global and digital society.

  • NETS for Administrators: The standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge school administrators and leaders need to support digital age learning, implement technology, and transform the instruction landscape.

  • NETS for Coaches: The skills and knowledge technology coaches need to support peers in becoming digital educators.

  • NETS for Computer Science Educators: The skills and knowledge that computer science educators need to reach, inspire, and teach students in computing. See
Currently ISTE serves as one of the 22 national organizations charged with developing the standards that the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) uses to accredit Colleges of Education throughout the U.S. See

Final Remarks

ICTing Across the Curriculum remains a challenging and fast moving target. Our current educational system is not designed to deal with the pace of change that ICT brings to our students’ world of schooling, work, play, and learning to become a responsible adult citizen.
The strong and forward-looking leadership of ISTE’s work in this field has been insightful and helpful. However, the challenge far transcends what one professional society can do alone. The professional association(s) of each academic discipline must fully accept the need to educate its practitioners in the uses of ICT to help students both to represent and to learn to solve the problems and accomplish the tasks that define their discipline. The school curriculum in each discipline area needs to fully integrate ICT into the content, teaching processes, and assessment of their discipline.

In this context, CCSS must carefully evaluate the rapidly changing nature, abilities, and interests of today’s students who have grown up in an ICT-rich environment. Their approaches to communication, entertainment, learning, and problem solving are vastly different from those of their teachers and parents. See
. We as educators must be fully aware of, and prepared to adapt education in response to, these differences.


ISTE (2012). ISTE bookstore. Retrieved 11/25/2012 from

ISTE NETS•S (2007). ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for Students: 2007 profiles. Retrieved 11/23/2012 from

Wikipedia (n.d.). NETS for students. Retrieved 11/23/2012 from
wiki/National_Educational_Technology_Standards - NETS_for_Students

David Moursund

David Moursund earned his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught in the Mathematics Department and Computing Center at Michigan State University for four years before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon. See his vita at see

A few highlights of his professional career include founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), serving as ISTE's executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE's flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology. He was a major professor or co-major professor of 82 doctoral students. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops.

In 2007, he founded Information Age Education (IAE), a non-profit company dedicated to improving teaching and learning by people of all ages throughout the world. See

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