As many students head back to school, it's important to reflect on the world in which they live. While we may have spent our childhood summers riding bikes or watching cartoons on TV, many of today’s kids likely spent the summer playing Pokemon Go or using Snapchat. They've never lived in a world where “Google” wasn’t a verb, where the phone was attached to the wall or where they couldn’t shop online.

Technology is an integral part of our daily lives, including the lives of students, no matter when, where, or how they learn. Thanks to technology, we live in an age where collaboration happens between individuals living around the world, and people can share and communicate with a global audience in an instant. Information that previously might have taken us hours to research is now easy to find with a few clicks. We have entertainment of all types available in the palms of our hands, anytime, anywhere.

However, as learning becomes more tech-infused, we must strive to leverage it to transform learning. The key to this is empowering students and teachers to think about new ways to use technology for learning. It’s critical to remember that it's about the learning, not the technology.

“Tech has amazing potential to transform education when we empower teachers to put the learning before the technology.”

Student-driven learning is key

In June, our organization, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), launched the new ISTE Standards for Students, our guidelines for education in the digital age. When they were first developed nearly 20 years ago, these standards defined what students needed to know about and be able to do with technology.

Today, these new aspirational, student- and expert-inspired standards are designed to guide learners who live, work and play in a tech-infused world. Using a learner-driven approach, the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students are a blueprint, created by and for innovative educators worldwide, to guide education transformation and meaningful, future-ready learning. They are not about devices or using technology; they are about giving voice to learners the world over and ensuring that education is a student-centered process of exploration and discovery.

Teaching in a tech-infused world

ISTE is also the creator of the ISTE Standards for Teachers that provide practical tenants for inspiring digital-age learning and best practices to assist teachers as they integrate technology to create lasting impact on student engagement and achievement. This year, in collaboration with stakeholders worldwide, we are updating those standards with a continuing focus on learning over tech.

ISTE also advocates for strategic ed-tech planning and professional training to support acquisition and use of new tech. We hope to further local education goals and truly transform how learning and teaching happen. Technology can be a great tool for reading, writing, collaborating and communicating, and we’re finding new uses for it every day. Tech has amazing potential to transform education when we empower teachers to put the learning before the technology.