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Dear ISTE: How about NETS TL?

Dear ISTE,
I’ve been attending your conference since the early 1990s, before the Web was born.  I was a founding member of SIGMS, which has grown, under the stewardship of so many of my TL colleagues, to one of ISTE’s more powerful SIGs.
At this year’s conference in Philadelphia, you released three new sets of NETS standards: NETS for Computer Science Educators, NETS for Coaches, and NETS for Administrators Technology Director.
These new sets of standards join
  • NETS•S: The skills and knowledge students need to learn effectively and live productively in a digital world.
  • NETS•T: The skills and knowledge educators need to change the way they teach, the way they work, and the way they learn in an increasingly connected global and digital society.
  • NETS•A: The skills and knowledge school administrators and leaders need to lead and sustain a culture that supports digital-age learning, builds a vision for technology infusion, and transforms the instructional landscape.
You know what?  I want a set of NETS too, please.
Like my colleagues, I am an information and communication technology professional. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been coaching for a long time. For over 20 years, I have introduced emerging technologies to K12 faculty and learners. For over 20 years, I have integrated relevant information and communication technologies into our curriculum.   (See the poster and resources below.)
So, how about, next time around, we consider what NETS TL might look like?  There’d be quite a bit of overlap with the teachers’ and coaches’ standards.

I love the idea that the refreshed NETS standards are designed to do just that type of double duty.

They will continue to serve teacher programs and pre-service candidates as ISTE/NCATE standards.  And, they will serve as standards for education professionals.  These standards and profiles can be used for:
  • Self-assessment and personal professional growth plans
  • Design of school- or district-wide professional development programs
  • Role definition and job descriptions
  • Individual and system accountability
  • For recruitment and hiring
We NEED NETS-TL for a variety of similar reasons.
I’d love to see a document that would:
  • Recognize the value of the TL as a partner on a school’s learning/technology team.
  • Describe the connected roles and partnerships of the TL within a school’s tech-infused learning community.
  • Create across-the-board accountability for TLs in the areas of current and emerging information and communication technologies, as well as their roles in digital curation; promoting intellectual freedom; and in creating transliterate, creative, digital citizens.
  • Ensure that graduate schools of library science prepare pre-service candidates to work effectively in the school libraries they will encounter or should create.
  • Add emphasis to, reinterpret, and more broadly disseminate the roles described in AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner and in Empowering Learners to the school audience beyond the world of library.
  • Guide administrators in the hiring of TLs who are prepared to ensure that learners become fully engaged, transliterate citizens.

I’d love to be on the committee.

Some resources:


TL Guides

Not Your Grandmother’s Library

14 Ways K–12 Librarians Can Teach Social Media

A Revised Manifesto

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Could not agree more! I want to be on that committee too! NETS-TL is the logical next step for NETS/AASL standards. A real merger that would reflect the actual world we teach in partnering with our tech. teacher siblings.

  2. LOVE this, Joyce! It makes such perfect sense! Thank you for leading us into the future!

  3. Dear Joyce:

    I love you and have great respect for your work, but think that calling for more useless standards does more harm than good. The ISTE NETs are unimaginative, unenforceable and unnecessary.

    I wrote about my objections to all technology standards in the following articles: (2007) (2004) (2003)

    Additional objectives are as follows:

    1) Standards do not grant legitimacy, they remove agency and autonomy from professional educators
    2) Standards standardize and lower expectations as a result
    3) The current ISTE NETS are all about information literacy and have almost nothing to do with computing anyway. You win!

  4. How can they refuse?!

  5. Hi Joyce,

    I just talked with some of the NETS gurus in the office and here’s the net-net (pun intended):

    The American Library Association (ALA) produces standards for library media specialists that serve to accredit college of ed programs:

    These can be adapted to fit the library media professional, too. I’m not sure if ISTE would want to create a new set of standards that duplicates those of ALA. Typically, we have tried to avoid any turf wars. 🙂 But we are always looking for ways to fulfill our members’ needs, so it may be some to consider in the future.

    Let me know if you have further questions or feedback for ISTE staff. Thanks!

    Heidi Ellis, ISTE Membership Program Manager

  6. Ah Gary, I agree with you! Your writing about standards rings with truth. Maybe we don’t need another set of NETS.

    But even with your clarifying vision, I don’t think we “win.” Help me, please. How do we legitimize our roles in our schools’ learning cultures, if the only folks writing about us in terms of where we fit in the those ecosystem are our own professional organizations and our own practitioners? Some of our best and most brilliant have fallen, despite all their best efforts working with agency and autonomy. Next steps, my friend?

    And, Heidi, when I read the new coach standards, I kept thinking that many (certainly not all) of those coaching expectations are expectations that ought to be shared with librarians. Without duplicating ALA’s work, isn’t there a way for ISTE to officially acknowledge the role of the librarian in the culture? For me the absence of an ISTE document on librarians as school info and communication tech leaders, as the number of documents grow, is an issue.

  7. Shannon Walters says

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need standards to identify baseline expectations for quality teaching in the 21st Century. But the reality is that schools across the country are very different, often imperfect, and many of us in the trenches rely on these standards to help us understand and communicate exactly what it is we are or should be doing. As a leader for my school and my district in information technology delivery and design, I count on the standards to inform my own practice and to explain my actions and my aspirations to my administrators, staff and school community.

    ALA/AASL didn’t help the issue by locking down our teaching standards when they were first published, but the fact that they exist doesn’t relieve ISTE of the responsibility of recognizing the role a teacher librarian plays in the ed tech landscape. We are discussing “National Educational Technology Standards” after all. While I believe that my role is represented somewhere between the NETS-T and NETS-Coaches standards, it would be nice to know that Teacher Librarian’s are on ISTE’s radar screen at all. Creating and publishing these three additional sets of standards without addressing school librarians smacks of disregard.

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