Technology and Teaching Standards

Brenton Burchmore
Jan 14, 2018 · 4 min read
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Globally the standards in teaching have long been about student outcomes and the professional development needed for teachers to deliver them. In the 1990’s a results-oriented approach was also subject driven and worked within the segmented pillars of the education system.

In the US the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards that began in 1987 has been developing policies around measurement and assessment of teachers. This was more about competence than methodology.

Discussions arose aplenty around the late ’90s and early ’00s around the excessive control of the teaching profession by government regulation. The idea of a neo-liberal approach suffocating teachers’ professional development was part of an outcry which has helped reshape the entire idea of teaching standards. The idea of professionalism rather than competence led to a shift away from compliance and adherence towards practices and frameworks. The arrival of digital technology as a tool in teaching has further pushed this agenda, with efforts such as Future Schools and the Digital Education Revolution trying to integrate these ideas into a more homogeneous whole.

Now we see efforts such as National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) describing a framework that more loosely outlines qualitative goals that blend the “how” of teaching with the “how” of using technology for both teachers and students. These factors are becoming increasingly entwined, and now the adoption and use of technology appears almost of equal importance for teachers as the mastery of their own subject knowledge.

A key question is how and why technology has crept so deep within the expectation matrix of teaching standards. The most common factor I feel is simply the pervasive effect of mobile digital access that has exploded in the past decade. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and even policymakers are now personally living a far more digital life experience. This effect now drives into every aspect of life as we see more and more digitisation of everyday life. It is perhaps unsurprising then that education is feeling this same drive and expectation.

Given this pressure, and its universal and holistic elements, perhaps a better question is why has technology not more fully revolutionised teaching already. Here I feel we see the echoes of the earlier debates about policy, legislation and government control mixed with the bureaucracy of teaching administration and its slow-turning wheels of change. It is a slow process to evolve these ideas as the systems that govern teaching standards are large cumbersome beasts that require a large collective will to redirect.

The adoption of the Common Core (CCSS) by 42 states in the US since 2010 has further highlighted this recent shift in standards paradigms. Whilst still subject-aligned (English language arts and maths) they embrace a range of technology efforts to modernise the teaching craft. Although still voluntary, these standards were built with and by teachers, for teachers. The ELA component in particular provides focus on multimedia and digital media elements.

Now we see a set of standards that specifically require teachers to not only embrace and adopt, but to leverage the use of digital technology at every opportunity. Furthermore we see this as going beyond the classroom. Teachers are now expected to use these tools for liaison and communications, for personal and peer collaboration, and to teach these same digital citizenship skills to students. Teachers are now expected to not just use technology to teach, but to teach about technology use.

So is this happening? Clearly this is a work in progress and different segments operate at a different pace. The fact that these standards are now considered largely acceptable and valid has forced an irreversible change in the role of teaching. Teachers no longer have the same empowerment to say “not in my classroom”, although many such holdouts can still thrive in under-enforced situations. The trend now is clear, and whilst the pace is slow and the road bumpy — there will most certainly be technology standards (and expectations) in teaching from here on.


Baratz-Snowden, J. (1993). Assessment of Teachers: A View From the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Theory Into Practice, 32(2), 82.

Burns, M. (2015). The Common Core and Digital Skills Development. Edutopia. Retrieved from:

Hardy, I. (2008). The Impact of Policy upon Practice: An Australian Study of Teachers’ Professional Development. Teacher Development 12.2: pp103–14. Print. DOI:

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, (2010). Common Core State Standards. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C. Retrieved from:

Smyth, J. (2006). The Politics of Reform of Teachers’ Work and the Consequences for Schools: Some implications for teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal Of Teacher Education, 34(3), 301–319. doi:10.1080/13598660600927208

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