Intl Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Tackles Tough Problems

When the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) was founded in 1979 classrooms in America were still primarily chalkboard-based with school technology relying on filmstrip projectors, overhead projectors, or the “cutting-edge” VHS videocassette recorder paired with a television on a rolling cart.

While education has fast-forwarded in a digital-first world to high-speed fiber optics, virtual classrooms, and cloud-based computing, ISTE has maintained a steady focus on its primary mission of accelerating the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation.

“Our worldwide network believes in the potential technology holds to transform teaching and learning,” says the ISTE.

Backyard Barbecue Leads to International Organization

A group of educators at a backyard barbecue in Eugene, Oregon in 1979 planted the seeds that would become the ISTE.

According to “How ISTE Got Its Start”: “At a backyard barbecue in Eugene, Oregon, a tight-knit group of forward-thinking K-12 and University of Oregon educators began asking, "What if ...?”

That small group of educators, led by University of Oregon Computer and Information Science professor David Moursund, founded the International Council for Computers in Education (ICCE).

In 1989, ICCE merged with the International Council for Computing in Education and the International Council for Computers in Education and became today’s ISTE.

ISTE now has members around the world in more than 100 countries and its annual conference, the ISTE Conference & Expo, attracts nearly 25,000 educators and exhibitors.

ISTE: A Community of Passionate Educators

The ISTE is made up of a community of passionate educators who believe in the transformative power of technology.

“At our core, we believe technology is the catalyst for creating an ecosystem where students drive their own learning, solve problems in their communities and become a force for good in physical and digital environments,” says the ISTE. “Our work is supported by three pillars: A community of passionate educators; knowledge and thought leadership; and standards that guide the innovative and effective use of technology.”

ISTE’s three pillars center on:

  • Community: Providing vibrant topic-focused learning networks where educators interact and share with each other; convening events that draw educators, leaders, policymakers, tech companies, entrepreneurs, and funders to learn about and solve education challenges; and by hosting dynamic social networks where educators from around the world engage.
  • Knowledge: Providing a conduit to knowledge through award-winning journalism and research from EdSurge; professional development and certifications based on the ISTE Standards; and books, journals, webinars, podcasts, and blog posts by experts and researchers in the education field.
  • Standards: Guide educators in helping students thrive in work and life with a suite of standards for students, educators, education leaders, and coaches. This framework for innovation in education is designed to give students the skills they need to contribute to a global, interconnected and changing society.

“ISTE’s vision is that all educators are empowered to harness technology to accelerate innovation in teaching and learning and inspire learners to reach their greatest potential,” says the ISTE.

What are the ISTE Standards?

The ISTE Standards provide the competencies for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age, providing a comprehensive roadmap for the effective use of technology in schools worldwide.

Grounded in learning science research and based on practitioner experience, the ISTE Standards ensure that using technology for learning can create high-impact, sustainable, scalable, and equitable learning experiences for all learners.

ISTE Standards are broken into the following sections:

  • Students: Student section of the ISTE Standards describes the skills and knowledge they need to thrive, grow, and contribute in a global, interconnected and constantly changing society.
  • Educators: The educator section of the ISTE Standards defines the digital age skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work, and learn.
  • Education Leaders: The education leader section of the ISTE Standards guides administrators in supporting learning, creating technology-rich learning environments, and leading the transformation of the education landscape.
  • Technology Coaches: The coaching section of the ISTE Standards describes the skills and knowledge they need to support their peers in becoming effective educators.
  • ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies: This section helps educators build skills by integrating computational thinking (CT) across all disciplines and with students of all ages.

Making Data User-Friendly, Seamless, and Secure

ISTE in action includes a recent collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, and three state education agencies in California, Massachusetts, and Nebraska, and 20 large school districts to make data systems more user-friendly, seamless, and secure.

 “Educators are increasingly burdened by fragmented data systems in schools, requiring them to spend countless hours piecing together student information from incompatible systems or manually re-entering information that already exists in another system,” says an ISTE release on the collaboration. “In addition, with student data increasingly stored in a digital format, the importance of maintaining the security and privacy of student information must be a top priority for any technology systems in use at a school or district.”

Education Week says the three-year partnership will help districts and states improve their systems’ interoperability, meaning make it easier for disparate systems to communicate with one another. The goal will be to create a set of tools and processes that any state or district can turn to when looking to tackle incompatible systems and/or secure their data.

“As a result of the pandemic, the role of data and technology infrastructure across the country has shifted.” said Kenneth Thompson, CIO of San Antonio Independent School District. “Data systems have always been foundational, but there’s a better understanding now of just how much it matters for technology not only to function but to be properly integrated. We are excited to continue pushing San Antonio ISD to better serve students, families, and staff through the work of this coalition.”

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