Refreshing the ISTE Technology Standards: Senior Editor Gary Stager Interviews Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE, on the Revised National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)

By Stager, Gary | District Administration, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Refreshing the ISTE Technology Standards: Senior Editor Gary Stager Interviews Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE, on the Revised National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)


Stager, Gary, District Administration


DON KNEZEK OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR TECHNOLOGY in Education has served with the organization for years. Since 1999, he has directed the association's National Center for Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology, targeted to improving technology preparation among teachers.

DA: Why are new NETS necessary?

KNEZEK: A number of forces influenced the need to update the NETS, from their age (NETS for students, or NETS*S, were released in 1998) to the globalization of education, from developments in technology and changing demographics of learners to the emergence of the digital learning landscape inside and outside of schools, and, of course, pressures from the flattening world and the slippage in our nation's leadership in innovation and in its world economic leadership.

DA: What was wrong with the last set of standards?

KNEZEK: Absolutely nothing was wrong with the last set of standards except that societal, learning, technological and economic landscapes have evolved, and it is clearly time to re-examine what our students need to know and be able to do to learn effectively and live productively in increasingly digital and global environments. The NETS for Students published in 1998 by ISTE are very strong, and we should be ashamed of how many of our students have not yet been given the opportunity to master them. However, there are other capabilities that are now critical in order for young learners to have rich and equitable opportunities to develop and participate in society.

DA: Why did it take so long to identify creativity and innovation as important aspects of learning?

KNEZEK: That is a really good question. Many educators, even in 1998, talked about the importance of several of the "noncore" areas of the school curriculum (the arts, for example) and some of the less structured learning opportunities as major forces in developing creativity and innovation in students. However, until recently most education stakeholders assumed the United States had a lock on world leadership in these two areas. Evidence of the last decade--the boom in applications for patents from Chinese nationals, for example--have made it clear that the world is rapidly cutting into our lead. Also, as more routine jobs have gone offshore, there is a realization that creativity and innovation generate salaries and employment opportunities that continue to be desirable to the U.S. workforce. I suppose it took so long because trends take time to come into focus, and people take time to react to those trends once they are evident.

DA: Who is the audience for the NETS Refresh document?

KNEZEK: The "audience" for the NETS Refresh is really a misnomer. They are truly for audiences ... teachers, curriculum and learning resources developers, other standards bodies such as content area organizations (NCTM, NCTE, etc.), school leaders, students, parents, policy-makers (especially state departments of education), and the business community.

DA: What surprised you during the NETS Refresh process?

KNEZEK: I think three things surprised me most during the process: 1. The original NETS for Students are very widely used by educators, providers of education solutions (vendors), state departments of education, and policymakers around the world--at least as a starting point for developing student expectations of their own. I expected much more resistance to the refresh effort, and I expected it to be more difficult to convince the community of education stakeholders to think far enough ahead to bring a really significant revision to this heavily adopted framework. The truth is, we went further in the first version of revised standards than I thought we could throughout the whole process. I am surprised by, and extremely proud of, the readiness of the community for a really significant updating of the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for Students.

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