Nothing but NETs

Educators will never be full-fledged members of a figurative Clean Plate Club.

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We think we’ve got it all figured out; new initiatives become part of our daily routines, we’ve come to the end of our TO-DO list, hooray! ……………………………………..and then more is heaped in front of us.

While I have only been employed at one school in my career, I am fairly certain that this is common throughout the profession.  It’s good in many ways… as promoters of life-long learning, we certainly should embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, and change ourselves.  The challenges and new requirements we face each year encourage innovation and ingenuity, and, in the correct dosage, can promote enthusiasm in our work.  Too much, however, and we begin to shut down.  Burn-out sets in, frustration builds as previously-introduced initiatives are laid aside in favor of the latest and greatest, and what could be fodder for engagement instead becomes an obstacle to effective teaching.

Whose responsibility is it to teach the NETs?  As I pondered this question, I was reminded of a recent faculty meeting in the elementary school where I work.  This is the first year in which we’ve really, as a school, begun intentionally moving towards effective integration of technology, rather than the idea that “computer” is a class.  The students still have regular computer classes, but applications are moving into the classroom.  Our integration specialists spoke with the entire faculty about the NETs standards, which our school has adopted.  You could feel the air become tense as every teacher in the room braced themselves for yet ANOTHER list of things we are supposed to teach and assess, when we often feel we don’t have time for what is already expected.  Fortunately, as the presentation progressed, everyone was able to see that the NETs should be seamlessly integrated into what we all already do.

Our school has set Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs), ideals about what we want to see in our students cognitively, affectively, and spiritually as a result of being a product of the school.  As the images from the presentation show, the NETs fit neatly (if generally) into the categories of those ESLRs.  (special thanks to Sarah Carpenter for allowing me to use part of her presentation)

Six Strands in the ISTE NETs Standards

Our ESLRs (in red) overlap with the NETs

The NETs standards coincide so well with our ESLRs because, in large part, both are an expression of the basics of effective education.  If essential 21st century skills are added to the mix, we find that the overlap continues.  Using technology isn’t the point of the NETs… teaching our students to explore, challenge, participate in, and change their world is.  As Mary Beth Hertz states in this post,

[The NETs] include skills and concepts that you are hopefully already addressing in your classroom, thought they stress how technology will aid you in addressing these standards.

Whose responsibility is it to teach the NETs?  The onus is on all of us, and hopefully we find it engaging, invigoration, and inspiring.



  • Laura Arleth wrote:

    I really like how your school has overlapped the ESLRs and NETs because they really are two in one. At my school we are, unfortunately, without ESLRs and NETs are the responsibility of the technology teachers. Next year when we move to an integration model I think your point will be one that needs to be voiced. Otherwise, classroom teachers will have one more initiative to manage. I wonder if we could merge NETs with the school’s Core Values (respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion, fairness)? They don’t lend themselves as well as your ESLRs, but I think it’s worth a try! Thank you for the insight.

  • Thank you for commenting, Laura! The NETs have definitely, up until this point, been considered the domain of the technology teachers. It is really nice to see how they overlap with the ESLRs, though. Now that everyone feels ownership and responsibility for them, I think integration will go more smoothly. It certainly seems worthwhile to see how your Core Values intersect… good luck!

  • Laura Arleth wrote:

    I found our ESLERs! Unfortunately I do not think our model will be simplified like yours because the ESLRs were on the top of the page and the NETs on the bottom, as if they were two different things. There was no indication that they might overlap or intersect anywhere. I am still hopeful for next year.

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