The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students are broken down into seven components; Empowered Learner, Digital Citizen, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer, Computational Thinker (new), Creative Communicator, and Global Collaborator. We chat with Jim Flanagan, ISTE Chief Learning Services Officer and 25-year veteran in the public and private K-12 sector, about how the new standards can transform learning in your classroom.

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students are designed to encourage exploration, creativity and discovery. What sort of timeline should schools strive for to reach these edtech goals?

Our hope is that educators will review the standards as soon as possible and start the discussion of how they might begin first steps. (I expect that many will want to include students in the discussion, as well.)

How can the standards benefit teachers? How does enhanced digital empowerment add to learning in the classroom?

I hope teachers see the student standards as a tool in their innovation discussions. (I also hope it will spur them to contribute their ideas to this year’s refresh of the ISTE Standards for Teachers!) Beyond that, I believe the first positive results will be increased student empowerment followed by deeper student learning and more in-depth, meaningful project work.

How will the new “Computational Thinker” category affect teachers? By setting the standard for students to use Tech within the classroom to achieve their goals, does this do away with “old school” memorizing content/committing concepts (equations, formulas, etc.) to memory?

There is still a place for student practice that builds automaticity, and brain research backs that up. The question is, what is the best way for each student to develop skills that result in deeper understanding and longer-term retention?

We believe that CT is not just for the future software engineers of the world, but a core literacy. Every person should know how to read to fully participate in society. In the same way, to be engaged citizens every student should be learning how computers solve problems and analyze data. There’s tremendous cross-subject potential in logic and problem-solving.

Do standardized tests and state protocols/policies fall in line with these new standards?

The standards are designed to be measurable, but not for high-stakes assessment. That said, my hope is that the standards can inform next generation assessment systems to include recognition of real project work, non-cognitive competencies and higher order thinking skills.

Does ISTE offer any sort of support or research materials to help educators as they transition to a more developed digital program within their school?

We offer a digital unpacking of the standards on our Website (each with four indicators of success), a free report on the refresh process and the research behind the standards, webinars, and a toolkit. ISTE is also developing a series of digital learning pathways courses starting with the Empowered Learner standard this fall.

Sascha Zuger

Sascha has nearly two decades of experience as a freelance journalist writing for national magazines, including The Washington Post, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic Traveler, and others. She writes about education, travel and culinary topics.