The following is the program description and proposal for my upcoming “conversation” at Educon 2.5 in Philadelphia, January 26th.

You Say You Want Tech Standards?
Here Come the NITS!

Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.
Brian C. Smith
Martin Levins

Program description

The ISTE Nets (tech standards) are approximately a decade old. They’ve produced endless meetings, cliché-laden documents and breathless rhetoric, but no perceptible increase in student computer fluency or teacher competence. Rather than standardizing, it’s time to amplify human potential with computers. A new diet of computing is required for learners.


There are a lot of computers in schools, but not a lot of computing. The ISTE Nets and their state and local spawn offer an imagination-free vision of school technology use that hardly justifies the investment let alone realizes the potential of computers as intellectual laboratories or vehicles for self-expression. The current crop of technology standards form the basis, at best, for a form of “computer appreciation” being taught in school.

If school leaders demand them, we should offer tech standards worthy of our students based on powerful ideas and a commitment to teacher renewal. We must move beyond the trivial and use computers in a fashion consistent with modern knowledge construction. These new “standards” elevate school computing and challenge traditional notions of top-down schooling.

Let’s call them N.I.T.S. – New Intergalactic Technology Standards.

Gary and his virtual friends, Brian Smith in Hong Kong and Martin Levins in Australia, will share their recommendations for raising our standards to the level kids deserve. Educon participants can argue the merits of these goals and add their own. You should have a lot fewer meetings to attend when your superiors are afraid of our new standards.

Everybody wins! Standards, up yours!

Feel free to add your standards suggestions as comments below…

As Arne Duncan and other unthinking vertebrates get aroused by the notion of common core standards, the rest of us should look at how stoobid the existing ones are.

Teachers in California are not only required to write the standards they are teaching on the board so that their disinterested first graders will magically achieve enlightenment, but they are forced to teach bunch ‘o crap standards like this gem from the 2nd Grade History – Social Science for California Public Schools Content Standards:

2.5 Students understand the importance of individual action and character and
explain how heroes from long ago and the recent past have made a difference in
others’ lives (e.g., from biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Louis Pasteur, Sitting
Bull, George Washington Carver, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Golda Meir,
Jackie Robinson, Sally Ride).

Please answer the following comprehension questions:

  1. WTF?
  2. Which does not belong?
  3. Are you kidding?
  4. Second grade?