Now that two major nonprofit education associations — the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) — announced in November they are joining forces, what's next for teacher training and ed tech resources?
K-12 Dive recently talked with ISTE CEO Richard Culatta, who will be leading the newly formed nonprofit organization resulting from this merger.
One major goal: that the merger will break down silos between conversations about effective pedagogy in curricula at ASCD and discussions surrounding how to best use technology in schools at ISTE, Culatta said.
Pedagogy and technology “need to be a part of one conversation moving forward,” he said.
As the groups forge ahead on this goal, Culatta shared five things to expect from the new organization.
A new name is coming
With the fresh group forming, Culatta said a new name will follow. Though he doesn’t know exactly when, Culatta said the change could be announced in March or April.
Even so, the ASCD and ISTE brands will still be used publicly, as appropriate.
“The ISTE and ASCD brands will still exist into the future, but from an organizational standpoint, we will come together as one team,” he said.
Separate conferences, for now
Both ASCD and ISTE will still offer their own separate conferences for the time being.
Moving forward, that could continue, or maybe their conferences will be reimagined down the road, Culatta said.
“I do think our events have unique purposes and unique audiences, and I think it’s important for us to recognize — whatever the future looks like — we do care deeply about making sure the conversations that we host at the different events don’t get lost,” he said.
Enhancing professional development tools
As the organizations look ahead and imagine designing the future of learning, Culatta said, one part of that includes reexamining professional development resources for teachers.
Currently, professional development can feel like something that is completed to just check a box, he said. So the combined ASCD-ISTE organization plans to discuss what actual transformative professional development would look like.
“I feel like we have become complacent with very low-quality professional learning for educators, and that just can’t continue if we’re going to create a better learning world in the future,” Culatta said.
More focus on leadership training
While some opportunities are in place to provide teachers with leadership training, Culatta said, more can be done to provide support and mentoring on this front.
“We don’t want to just throw them into the deep end of the pool, that doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “We need to help provide that support, scaffolding and mentoring that they need to become the amazing leaders that we need for the next generation of learning.”
Pushing ed tech to build better products
Under the merger, there will also be a push for the industry to improve ed tech tools, Culatta said.
“There are some great industry partners out there that are interested. They want to build good, high-quality products. They want to be able to show impact. But we need to be holding the industry to a higher standard, and we need to help them do it,” he said.
Culatta sees a role for ASCD-ISTE to play by transparently showing decision-makers the best tools impacting classrooms versus ones he said “are frankly just out there trying to make a dollar.”