Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

The National Educational Technology Standards (Nets): A Review of Definitions, Implications, and Strategies for Integrating Nets into K-12 Curriculum

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

The National Educational Technology Standards (Nets): A Review of Definitions, Implications, and Strategies for Integrating Nets into K-12 Curriculum

Article excerpt


In the American education system of the 1990's, as accountability became a familiar and fixed part of the educational landscape, curriculum standards emerged as one of its most prominent features. While it is helpful, most educational leaders agree, to have clear guidelines that define adequate performance in each content area and grade level, standards also have become a popular measuring stick for school quality and teacher performance (Darling-Hammond & Falk, 1997). If some legislators are successful in their efforts, critical elements such as school funding and certification will be tied to compliance with standards (Quality counts, 1999, January 11). Schools and districts face varying difficulties in meeting these performance guidelines, and most look to an increasing reliance on them with mixed views. In addition to their significance as benchmark skills in preparing students for an Information Society, national technology standards represent an important development in the search for behaviors to define "computer/technological literacy." The historical significance and current impact of NETS will be described here, along with curriculum-based strategies for addressing them at all levels.


Policymakers and educators alike are beginning to see technology skills as an important part of preparing citizens for tomorrow's world. The current U. S. Administration has made it clear it considers preparing students to use technology tools as high a priority as basic skills in reading and mathematics (Technology counts, 1997, November 10). Several states, most notably North Carolina, decided a few years ago to set their own standards for what students at each grade level should know and be able to do with technology (Atkins & Vasu, 1998). Others like Florida integrated technology into their state curriculum standards. However, unlike content areas such as mathematics and social studies, there were no national standards developed by a respected content area professional organization.

In June, 1998, the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Project published such standards. NETS is an initiative of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and was funded by NASA in consultation with the U. S. Department of Education, the Millken Exchange on Education Technology, and Apple Computer. Technology Foundation Standards for Students developed by the NETS Project are shown in Figure 1. ISTE is the largest educational technology organization in the world, and its ties both to classroom teachers and national policymakers give its work in this area an aura of authority. (Copies of the standards are available from ISTE or at:


1. Basic operations and concepts

* Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.

* Students are proficient in the use of technology.

2. Social, ethical, and human issues

* Students understand the ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.

* Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.

* Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.

3. Technology productivity tools

* Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.

* Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models, preparing publications, and producing other creative works.

4. Technology communications tools

* Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences. …

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