Volume 27 Number 1
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Phil Hubbard
Deborah Healey

In early 2009, TESOL released Technology Standards Framework, a document consisting of separate sets of standards for English language learners and teachers. In spring 2011, TESOL is planning to publish a subsequent full volume: Technology Standards: Description, Implementation, Integration. Although technology standards already existed for general education (e.g., those from the International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE] and UNESCO), the TESOL Standards Committee determined that the unique characteristics of language teaching and learning merited formal standards specifically for our field.

The standards are meant to serve a number of purposes:

  • Prompt ESOL teachers to learn appropriate and effective uses of digital technology for teaching and lead their students to do the same for learning;
  • Articulate a clear set of targets for the development of technology competence;
  • Provide direction and motivation for integrating technology education into language teacher education;
  • Guide administrators and policymakers in curriculum, hiring, and in-service training decisions; and
  • Help minimize the digital divide within and between countries by defining fundamental technology skills for language learners.

At present the standards are only advisory, but there is potential for incorporating them into formal certification processes in the future.

Under the direction of TESOL’s Standards Committee, the Standards Framework was developed by the Technology Standards Project Team: Deborah Healey (chair), Volker Hegelheimer, Phil Hubbard, Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou, Greg Kessler, and Paige Ware. The team met several times in person and virtually from 2006 to 2008 to develop the standards collaboratively, submitting drafts of the standards that were initially open for public comment and later underwent critical review by an anonymous group of international experts in language learning and technology before receiving final approval by the TESOL Board of Directors in October 2008. During the development period the standards were also presented at both U.S. and international conferences, and feedback from participants across these diverse settings was addressed in the final version.

The new companion volume was created by the Technology Standards Project Team, with Elizabeth Hanson-Smith replacing Volker Hegelheimer. That volume focuses on implementation of the standards. It includes an expanded section on research, recommendations for teacher educators and administrators, recommendations for accommodating online teaching, a comparison with the ISTE NETS (National Education Technology Standards) and UNESCO standards, and a checklist for self- and program assessment. The volume also has a glossary, extended list of references, and an index. The core of both volumes consists of the following components: goals, standards, performance indicators, and vignettes.


The overarching goals are broad statements describing the primary topic areas under which the actual standards are embedded. There are three goals in the learner standards:

Goal 1. Language learners demonstrate foundational skills and knowledge in technology for a multilingual world.

Goal 2. Language learners use technology in socially and culturally appropriate, legal, and ethical ways.

Goal 3. Language learners effectively use and critically evaluate technology-based tools as aids in the development of their language-learning competence as part of formal instruction and for further learning.

There are four goals in the Teacher Standards:
Goal 1. Language teachers acquire and maintain foundational skills and knowledge in technology for professional purposes.

Goal 2. Language teachers integrate pedagogical knowledge and skills with technology to enhance language teaching and learning.

Goal 3. Language teachers apply technology in record-keeping, feedback, and assessment.

Goal 4. Language teachers use technology to improve communication, collaboration, and efficiency.


Each goal is realized by two to five standards. For example, Teacher Goal 2, Standard 4 states: “Language teachers use relevant research findings to inform the planning of language learning activities and tasks that involve technology.” There are 11 standards distributed across the three learner goals, and 14 standards divided among the four teacher goals.


Each standard is accompanied by a set of performance indicators, specifying more precisely what learners and teachers should be able to do to meet the expectations embodied in a particular standard. Performance indicators for learners are at a single basic level, but the teacher standards include performance indicators at both basic and expert levels, the latter representing deeper knowledge and a broader set of skills relative to the particular standard. For instance, among the performance indicators for the preceding example (Teacher Goal 2, Standard 4) are “Language teachers identify the context and limitations of research about technology use and do not apply findings inappropriately” (Basic Level) and “Language teachers produce and disseminate research related to technology use” (Expert Level).


The vignettes provide illustrative scenarios demonstrating how a particular standard may be realized in a practical situation. Within a given scenario, vignettes may distinguish between settings that have different levels of technology available: low, mid, or high resource and access. This is seen to be important in allowing the standards to be adaptable to the wide variety of learning environments worldwide. The Framework document includes at least one vignette per goal. The expanded volume has at least one vignette per standard, covering a range of learner ages, levels, physical settings, and objectives.

The Technology Standards Framework (2009), TESOL’s first e-book, is available in pdf format through TESOL publications. Besides the goals, standards, performance indicators, and vignettes, the Framework document includes introductory material justifying the need for the standards and stating their purpose, a section on the theoretical and research bases for the standards, a glossary, and appendices.

The new TESOL volume, Technology Standards: Description, Implementation, Integration, is scheduled for release in early 2011. Check the Publications tab at www.tesol.org for further details.

The Technology Standards team is still interested in collecting vignettes from CALL practitioners, especially those involved in adult workplace education, IEPs, and EFL for young learners. These will be placed on a support Web site in the near future. Contact Deborah Healey at dhealey@uoregon.edu if interested in contributing a vignette. A list of the goals and standards (without performance indicators or vignettes) is available at www.tesol.org/techstandards.

Phil Hubbard, phubbard@stanford.edu, and Deborah Healey, dhealey@uoregon.edu

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