I spent some time this weekend finally getting around to trying to compare the new NETS Standards to the new AASL Standards. This was a tough go. While I usually write as means of putting off doing chores around the house, I actually cleaned the garage yesterday to delay working on this comparison. This was challenging task, but it was a good way to gain some familiarity with both new publications.
Both sets of standards are more complex than in their previous iterations. Hoping to address some of the widely discussed "knowledge work skills," both documents address creativity, independent learning, higher-order-thinking skills, collaboration/social networking, and life-long learning. More emphasis on the "affective" side of learning, if you will. ISTE has 6 major skills groups with 16 specific skill sets; AASL had only 4 major skill groups with 28 specific skill sets. (AASL also had other specifics in the categories of Dispositions in Action; Responsibilities; and Self-Assessment Strategies. For this comparison, I am ONLY comparing what AASL regards as Skills.)
In working on direct skill to skill comparison, I got frustrated. Separate skills in one document were often combined in the other (and vice versa). Shadings of meaning were evident. But there was still major overlap - even agreement - between the documents on the basics.
I decided a better way to approach the comparison was visually. So I fired up good old Inspiration and the chart diagram you see above is the result. The diagram displays all the areas and at least the basic idea of all skills in both sets of standards (or at least how I interpret them). I then color-coded each set and skill:
- Red: Information literacy (we can quibble later about the actual name)
- Yellow: Communication
- Pink: Collaboration/teamwork
- Green: Creativity, HOTS, application
- Blue: Safe and ethical use
- Purple: Reading skills
- Orange: Tech skills
- Light blue: Attitude (I am sure there is a better word for this)
A few initial observations:
- Information literacy, regardless of how it is organized, remains a major focus of both sets of standards. Squint and look at the red.
- HOTS (along with creativity and application) are a second major emphasis in both standards. I will be interested in seeing model benchmarks and assessment tools for these areas.
- ISTE still has some tech-specific skills and AASL some reading-specific skills. But they seem to be only a small part of each set.
- There is, as Jacquie Henry in an LM_Net posting calls it, a "slippery" factor to many of these "skills." AASL: "Read, view and listen for pleasure and personal growth" ISTE: "Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship"? Are describing student competencies here or describing a philosophical ideal?
- Both sets of skills seem overly ambitious. Schools and states will need to carefully pick and choose which skills will be included in their own IL/IT curriculum models and for embedding in the content area standards.
I would be DELIGHTED to see other comparisons/interpretations of these sets of standards. Comments, as always, are very welcome.
Hey, and you should see my garage - it's never looked so good!