The NETS standards, collaboration and communication

I have had the chance to teach lower-level Biology courses to traditional college students aged 17-21 ; all of these young people (and myself) belong to the generation known as “Millennial”. We have grown with the increased presence of technology, information and media from a very young age, and require a certain level of connectedness with our family and friends via digital devices and services. We are used to getting information from a simple Google search and switching from activity to activity quickly (McMahon & Pospisil, 2005).

The 2011 Horizon Report acknowledges the role of the internet in teaching and learning. People expect to switch from work, to study, to leisure with minimal readjusting time. As educators, we need to find ways to keep the students engaged and keep pace with the proliferation of information, tools and devices. Many teacher preparation programs already require a level of literacy in digital media, and the Report suggests more universities should follow suit. The main problem would be that digital technologies change too rapidly, making curriculum development difficult. Some technologies that the Report mentions will become mainstream in education are e-books, mobile-devices, game-based learning, movement-based computing (such as the Kinect), augmented-reality learning (such as Second Life), and the use of learning analytics (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine & Haywood, 2011).

The NETS standards were developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), constituting a set of skills and knowledge necessary to teach and learn effectively in the digital era.

The NETS-T are:

  1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.
  2. Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments
  3. Model digital age work and learning
  4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
  5. Engage in professional leadership

The NETS-S are:

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. Communication and collaboration
  3. Research and information fluency
  4. Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Technology operations and concepts

This week we are focusing on communication and collaboration. Howard Rheingold and Stefana Broadbent have talked about our ability to broadcast our thoughts to a huge number of people at the click of a button- just like I am doing right now. We use email, instant messages, mobile phone calls and video conferences to communicate with friends, family and peers. This trend in communication was only more obvious to me when I read about researchers analyzing billions of phone calls and texts from mobile devices to find that mothers favor a relationship with their adult daughters rather than with their husbands (Palchykov, Kaski, Kertesz, Barabasi & Dunbar, 2012).

Rheingold further talks about collaborative technologies that could possibly be used in a classroom such as forums, wikis, blogs and usenet groups, that allow people to interact with many of their peers at once rather than one-on-one.

The suggestion to substitute “customer” for “student” in the “Effects of Social Media in Communication” video tickled my funny bone.

Nowadays, students demand to be engaged by their instructor and require instant feedback. They have short attention spans and the responsibility falls on the instructor to keep them stimulated. I have seen these characteristics reflected in some of my teaching evaluations:

“Always to the point and a fair grader. Returns graded work to students quickly. Doesn’t waste our time.”

“The learning environment is very involved”

“Gets us in and out efficiently”

As a teacher I believe that the NETS standards are a great foundation for building an engaging classroom for the Millennial student.


Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

McMahon, M., & Pospisil, R. (2005). Laptops for a digital lifestyle: Millennial students and wireless mobile technologies. ASCLITE 2005

Palchykov, V., Kaski, K., Kertesz, J., Barabasi, A.-L., & Dunbar, R.I.M. (2012). Sex di fferences in intimate relationships. Sci. Rep. 2, 370.

About Lily F.M.

Graduate student trying to learn as much as I can!

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