Digital PISA: Korea tops new OECD PISA survey of digital literacy

29/06/2011 11:44

Nick Allentoft

Korea tops a new OECD PISA survey that tests how 15-year olds use computers and the Internet to learn. The next best performers were New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong-Kong China and Iceland. PISA 2009 Results: Students On Line tasked students with evaluating information on the Internet, assessing its credibility and navigating webpages to test their digital reading performance.

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Students from 16 OECD countries took part - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden – as well as three non-member economies - Colombia, Hong Kong – China, and Macao – China.

In most countries, students’ results in digitial reading were broadly in line with their performance in the PISA 2009 print reading tests. But in Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland and Macao-China, students performed significantly better in digital reading than print, while the opposite was true of students in Poland, Hungary, Chile, Austria, Denmark, Hong-Kong China and Colombia.

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“Digital technologies provide a great opportunity to make students more active participants in classroom learning, to tailor learning better to individual students’ needs and to give students access to the worlds current research and thinking,” said Barbara Ischinger, OECD Director of Education.

Girls performed better than boys in every economy, but the difference was less marked than in print reading: girls scored an average of 24 points more, compared to a difference of 39 points in print, the equivalent to one year of schooling. Harnessing boys’ relatively strong digital reading performance may be a way to improve their overall reading ability and engagement, says the report.

The survey highlighted wide gaps between the highest and lowest performing-students in some countries. In Hungary, Austria and Belgium, 141, 137 and 133 points separate the top and bottom quarters of the 15-year old population.

Computer use among 15-year olds has also risen fast over the past decade. 94% of students in OECD countries who took part in PISA 2009 have at least one computer at home, compared to 72% in 2000. The increase in access was greater among disadvantaged students (37 percentage points) than among advantaged students (7 percentage points).

But computer use at school had little impact on results, while using a computer at home had a more marked impact on results. To help students at school, computer use should be integrated into curricula and more invested in training teachers to use them for teaching and to help students learn, says the OECD.

The OECD’s Programme for International Assessment (PISA) evaluates the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems in some 70 countries that, together, make up nine-tenths of the world economy. It aims to help countries see how their school systems match up globally with regard to their quality, equity and efficiency. The best performing education systems show what others can aspire to, as well as inspire national efforts to help students to learn better, teachers to teach better, and school systems to become more effective. The most recent PISA study, which focused on reading and also assessed mathematics and science performance, was released in December 2010.

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