In today's society it is no longer up to teachers to come up with a list of requirements when it comes to technology. This is thanks to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) which are recognized nationally and have been adopted internationally as well through the ISTE, which is the International Society for Technology in Education.
Since technology is exact, approachable and available, it is now up to the user himself to set the bar as far as how many skills can be put into practice to manipulate the technology. Moreover, since technology quickly builds schema and precludes the utilization of further skills that can be easily acquired, there is hardly a "list" that teachers would want to impose upon middle school students who are at the heart of the technological revolution.
Now, a typical ISTE list for basic requirements at the sixth grade level (assuming that not all students have the availability of a computer at home, nor are part of a technologically-savvy community) proposes the following for students of 6th grade:
- Ability to maneuver and control the keyboard
- Knowledge of logging in and out
- Ability to use the mouse (drag, cut/paste, insert, copy/paste)
- Demonstrated skill using applications from the Office suite (specify up to 3 different programs)
- Demonstrated ability to independently type and save written information in a specific folder.
- Student has control of the shift, control, alt, and delete buttons and knows what they are for.
- Student can perform basic troubleshooting independently (size of screen, brightness, mapping a printer)
- Student can access Firefox/Safari/IE/Netscape from the desktop
- Student can conduct an online search using keywords.
These standards are also part of ISTE but they have been molded for the specific usage of 6th graders with limited access to technology at home, and under the assumption that they are relatively new to independent computer usage. Once these basic skills are mastered, then more can be added. However, it is important to start with the basics and to clearly explain them so that when there is major troubleshooting in the horizon, the student will feel comfortable enough to attempt the problem solving independently, even when it is more complex.
According to ISTE, if a student has been exposed to technology at the home and is more advanced, it is advised that the student is assessed on whether the student is knowledgeable of, or can master the following technologies:
- mouse skills
- vocabulary and hardware
- problem solving (troubleshooting)
- Windows basics
- Keyboard and shortcuts
- Adobe photo shop
- Google Earth
- Web 2.0 tools
Included is a link to ISTE and to the chart that they use to list specific skills by grade level. The sixth grade standards are included as well.