Setting Standards in Technology Education

Article excerpt

WITH EACH NEW DISCOVERY AND ADVANCE IN OUR TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD, EDUCATION IS CHALLENGED TO MAINTAIN A STEADY PACE IN THE RACE TO KEEP UP WITH THE CHANGES. SCHOOLS AT ALL LEVELS ARE STRIVING TO EDUCATE THEIR STUDENTS USING INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES THAT WILL PREPARE THEM TO MEET TODAY'S CHALLENGES. WITH THE NEW MILLENNIUM ONLY A FEW MONTHS AWAY, EDUCATION IS BEING REFORMED IN THE UNITED STATES, AND AT THE FOREFRONT OF THIS REFORM ARE STANDARDS. LEADING THE DRIVE FOR STANDARDS IN TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION IS THE INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION AND ITS TECHNOLOGY FOR ALL AMERICANS PROJECT.

Educational standards provide a structured framework for everyone involved in the business of education. They establish guidelines for teaching and resolve what every child should know and be able to do before exiting our schools.

Standards are being developed in more than 15 areas of study. Most notable are the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Science Education Standards developed by the National Research Council. Such standards are valuable to school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and everyone interested in ensuring that our children are receiving a quality education that will transfer to other areas of society.

TECHNOLOGY TOO

Like many subjects, the study of technology should be taught within a structured framework. There must be standards in order to promote the highest quality of learning.

Technology influences many of the changes people encounter at work, school, and home. Its promise for the future is phenomenal, but to fully appreciate the value of technology, people should be able to use, manage, and understand it. They must be technologically literate.

Technologically literate persons are capable problem solvers. They understand that the solution to one problem may cause another problem. They appreciate the relationships between technology and individuals, society, and the environment.

Technologically literate persons incorporate characteristics from engineers, artists, designers, craftspersons, technicians, mechanics, and sociologists. They understand and appreciate the importance of fundamental technological developments, combine ingenuity and resources to meet human needs and wants, and use and understand a variety of classification systems. They also can see how society is being reshaped by our inventions and innovations and can assess the impact and consequences of a technological system.

THE PROJECT

In 1995 the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), with support and funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, formed the Technology for All Americans Project (TfAAP). The project's goal was to articulate a clear vision of what it means to be technologically literate, how this can be achieved at the national level, and why it is important to the nation. This objective was met with the publication of Technology for All Americans: A Rationale and Structure for the Study of Technology (Rationale and Structure).

After developing Rationale and Structure, TfAAP focused on creating Standards for Technology Education: Content for the Study of Technology (Content Standards), which could be used to further the realization of its goal. Although technology education programs are teaching technology, this community of educators and those interested in promoting technological literacy agree that there is a real need for standards-based reform in the field.

Technology education is a school subject that uses a learning environment based upon designing, developing, and utilizing technological systems. It applies cognitive, manipulative, and effective learning strategies to individual and team learning activities. Technology education requires various skills, such as critical thinking and communication. …