Bright ideas for tech-savvy educators, right to your inbox

[ISTE Standards] Answers to Today's Education Whys

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 -- Mindy Frisbee

Today, we welcome Mindy Frisbee of ISTE as a guest author on our blog to offer a close look at the ISTE standards, the ISTE Seal of Alignment, and how Edmentum's EdOptions Academy fits within both programs.

In education, we encourage learners to seek the elusive answer to “why?” It’s the answers to why-driven questions that deepen engagement and drive additional learning.

In the fast-evolving world of education, there are lots of “whys?” on educators’ minds. Today, we want to take time to address a few that are specific to edtech and ISTE, including: Why do the ISTE Standards matter? How should edtech resources be vetted? And, what does the ISTE Seal of Alignment tell us about a solution?

Answers abound.

Let’s start with the ISTE Standards.

The ISTE Standards

The ISTE Standards are a roadmap for educators worldwide as they navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional learning, and technology. The standards guide educators through the myriad decisions they face related to the effective integration of educational technology to transform learning and teaching.

Used globally by teachers, administrators, coaches, and computer science educators, the ISTE Standards impart the key underpinnings for improving high-order thinking skills, designing digital instruction, and ensuring students are career-ready.

The ISTE Standards for Students, with the support of the teacher, administrator, coach, and computer science educator standards, set a vision for what is possible with technology for learning.

The ISTE Standards for Students are at the center of everything. The foremost goal of educators is to prepare students for their future, and the ISTE Standards for Students describe the critical skills and knowledge they need to learn in an increasingly global and digital society. 

As students and teachers have access to a growing number of digital products and resources, educators can leverage these resources in ways that enhance the learning experience through technology-powered pedagogy. The ISTE Standards help define where and how to apply technology to best enhance the learning and teaching process.

The ISTE Seal of Alignment

The ISTE Seal of Alignment program reviews and recognizes edtech resources for their alignment to the ISTE Standards. Together, the ISTE Standards and the Seal of Alignment can help educators find resources that support the authentic and appropriate integration of education technology in classrooms worldwide.

The ISTE Seal of Alignment is a visual badge of approval, earned only by resources that have passed rigorous review by ISTE’s education experts.

Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy

Edmentum's EdOptions Academy, an accredited virtual school that partners with schools and districts to deliver rigorous, research-based, pedagogically sound curriculum, recently earned the ISTE Seal of Alignment for Readiness.

EdOptions Academy offers more than 270 online courses in a variety of content areas. All of Edmentum’s certified teachers employ a “flipped” instructional model where EdOptions Academy teachers are highly involved in daily interactions with students. Academy teachers provide resources for support when needed, grade student work, provide feedback and encouragement, and communicate with student, parent and site coordinators. Students work independently using online materials and consult with instructors around specific assignments for guidance and assistance. Teachers monitor students’ progress and scores and prepare weekly progress report data which includes current grade, end date reminders, recommendations concerning student pace, progress, performance, and remediation as needed.

Resources like EdOptions Academy that have earned an ISTE Seal of Alignment for Readiness have been verified by education and ISTE Standards experts to ensure they support critical foundational technology skills that will help empower students to tackle the future. They provide the framework needed to prepare students for today’s new literacies. They recognize that being a digital learner is no longer optional. And, they ready learners to live and work in a technology-infused society.

By adopting resources that have earned a Seal of Alignment, users know they are choosing solutions that work to transform learning and teaching with the thoughtful and appropriate integration of edtech. Edmentum's EdOptions Academy helps learners meet that lofty goal.

Review Methodology and Findings

ISTE experts reviewed a mix of both two- and four-semester courses offered within EdOptions Academy across a wide sample of content areas such as English, science/health, math, computer programming, government, and electronic communication. EdOptions Academy was found to support the following ISTE Standards for Students at the Readiness level:

1. Creativity and Innovation

  • Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
  • Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.

2. Communication and Collaboration

  • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats. 

3. Research and Information Fluency

  • Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
  • Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
  • Process data and report results. 

4. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

  • Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

5. Digital Citizenship

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.

6. Technology Operations and Concepts

  • Understand and use technology systems.

ISTE reviewers said EdOptions Academy “helps foster the development of useful foundational technology skills; students are expected to utilize technology in order to complete course assignments, lessons, and unit projects in a cleanly designed, easy-to-navigate tool.”

All of us at ISTE are confident there are other resources like EdOptions Academy being developed that can also contribute to our cause. Join our efforts to transform education by becoming an ISTE member or by submitting your resource for the ISTE Seal of Alignment.