ISTE standards without references to technology

Read the ISTE NETS for students with references to technology to technology stripped where possible.


1. Creativity and Innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes.

a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
c. Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
d. Identify trends and forecast possibilities

2. Communication and Collaboration

Students use appropraite media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of environments and media
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
c. Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures
d. Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems

3. Research and Information Fluency

Students apply appropriate tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

a. Plan strategies to guide inquiry
b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
c. Evaluate and select information sources and tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
d. Process data and report results

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 tools and resources.

a. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
b. Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project
c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions

5. Citizenship

Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues and practice legal and ethical behavior.

a. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and tools.
b. Exhibit a positive attitude that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
c. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
d. Exhibit leadership for citizenship

6. Technology Operations and Concepts

Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

a. Understand and use technology systems
b. Select and use applications effectively and productively
c. Troubleshoot systems and applications
d. Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies


What you no doubt notice is that the only standard that requires the use of technology is the sixth standard, which in my opinion is the weakest reason to use technology. Technology is more than a tool, it shapes us, it changes us, it gives us affordances that are otherwise not possible without the technology. It is for these purposes that we should use technology, and our standards should reflect these purposes.

The first five standards are admirable goals, but none of them requires technology specifically, and when we attach the technology terminology with them, and label them digital literacies, we are sending the message that if "my school doesn’t use technology" that these standards are some how optional, and that they are only possible with technology.

This is the wrong message to send.



  • Nikkol wrote:


    While I understand your stance, I will respectfully disagree that the result of ISTE’s standards are causing educators to think that the first 5 standards don’t matter. In my own district, standard 4 above has been a focus for us over the last year, with or without the use of technology.

    If you look at ISTE’s old NETS, they were much more oriented around pure technology operation. The newer standards are a reflection of 21st Century Skills and how technology plays a part in all of that. It’s ISTE’s attempt to state that achievement of these “admirable goals” is inextricably linked to the use of technology in today’s world.

    On the other hand, there are a number of uses of technology that do NOT help us reach these goals. (Think skill-and-drill software, requiring kids to create a Powerpoint to reguritate information, etc.) The challenge is showing others how to embrace technology to help students do more than just memorize and leverage it for life-long learning.

    Cheers, my friend!

  • David Wees wrote:

    Maybe it’s more accurate to say that the first five standards aren’t really technology standards, they are standards about learning. Your observation that schools could quite easily adopt technology without changing anything in how they do is true; and I can see why one would have to suggest "new" pedagogies to go with the new technology. The issue I have is that these pedagogies aren’t really new, they are very much similar to what Dewey, Piaget, Holt, etc… have been suggesting for many years.

  • Nikkol wrote:

    Indeed. They aren’t new. As an edtech professional, would I rather have standards that say a kid can click this button/troubleshoot common problems/use this type of software or would I rather have standards that say a kid can use technology to grow themselves as a person/learner/citizen/employee? Both, I guess. It’s a tangled web that some of us are tempted to try to detangle with check lists of skills. Yet, often times, these skill lists lead to lower-level learning experiences for kids when that doesn’t have to be the case. What I really am looking forward to is the day that we don’t need separate technology standards at all; it’s just a given.

  • Looking over the list, I too noticed the omission of most direct references to technology. However, I also noticed that a lot of NETS contents in this iteration do seem to imply the use of technology is required. For example, number two on the list:

    “Students use appropraite media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.”

    I think most would interpret that as a mandate for technology use, but I can certainly understand the difficulties that may arise as a result of neglecting to specifically state technology use is required. This is the caveat of most official policies and guidelines; whether implicit or implied, the possibility of divergent interpretations is unavoidable.

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