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How and what do ICTs affect: Considerations based on studies from Chile

LLECE up-to-date- N° 10, November 2012 - February 2013

How and what do ICTs affect: Considerations based on studies from Chile

By Ernesto San Martín. Faculty of Education & Faculty of Mathematics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile - Center for Research on Educational Policies and Practices (CEPPE) - MIDE UC Measurement Center

During the 19th century, the emerging Latin American republics recently liberated from Spain made systematic attempts to teach their people to read and write. Censuses at that time inquired about citizens’ ability to read and/or write. Books, a technological apparatus, were placed in the hands of men and women in order to connect them to history and progress. That is what Sarmiento and Bello thought, in the case of Chile and Latin America; and it is what Sarmiento’s friend, H. Mann, thought for the inhabitants of North America. The blackboard, another technological apparatus, was introduced into classrooms especially to teach arithmetic.

A little more than 150 years have gone by, and the concern of many nations is now “digital literacy”. The motivation is evident: the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) is an important skill for the professional and personal development of each 21st century citizen. These reasons, among others, underlie the recent efforts made by Chile in the field of ICT use and skills metrics. In 2009, Chile performed its first digital census of all educational establishments in the country; the second digital census was carried out in 2012. It seeks to gather information about the state of infrastructure and IT management, in addition to the ICT uses and competencies of teachers and students.

In 2011, Chile carried out its first standardized measurement of ICT skills for learning, the ICT SIMCE. These skills, which go beyond mere technical proficiency, assume the capacity to resolve real life digital problems (which supposes the use of higher order cognitive skills). Finally, we must mention Chile’s participation in the 2009 PISA ERA assessment: 15-year-old students were submitted to a digital reading assessment, and had to respond to a questionnaire regarding their frequency of ICT use, particularly digital reading activities and the use of computers at school.

This information has allowed us to generate some responses to the question about what impacts and is impacted by ICTs . What have we learned?

1) In the case of Chile, computer use in schools has a positive impact upon digital reading activities, which also significantly impact the PISA ERA assessment of reading. This is explained by the fact that the transversal use of ICTs in schools is focused on searching and processing information using digital media.

2) The ICT skills for learning can be seen as a continuum that goes from “digital information search” tasks, passing through the evaluation and analysis of digital information, and ending with the development of original ideas in digital media.

3) The linguistic skills of Chilean students have a positive impact upon the ICT SIMCE. This impact is greater than the impact of mathematic skills.

These findings may not appear to be very surprising. And in a large sense they are not, since the ICT skills that have been measured in Chile and the ICT uses that have been reported are in a way related to linguistic media, although these do not represent all ICTs. There is still room to continue research on the nature of ICT skills, and to continue to understand their relationship to classic skills.

But this also allows us to suggest a challenge: just as the blackboard entered the classroom to teach arithmetic, we must ask ourselves how to develop ICT skills for the learning of mathematics. Of course, we are not referring to an accidental or anecdotal use of ICTs with mathematics, but to the use of ICTs in order to enhance the learning of mathematics and, who knows, other new aspects of ICT skills.

These reflections are based on the following studies:

M. Claro, D. Preiss, E. San Martín, I. Jara, J. E. Hinostriza, S. Valenzuela, S. Cortés and M. Nussbaun (2012). Assessment of 21st century ICT skills in Chile: Test design and results from high school level students. Computers and Education 59, 1042-1053.

E. San Martín, M, Claro, P. Farina, I. Jara y D. Preiss (2012). ¿Cuál es el impacto del acceso y uso de TICs en los resultados de las mediciones de lectura y lectura digital en PISA 2009? Análisis comparativo en cinco naciones. En: Centro de Estudios MINEDUC (Eds.), Evidencias para Políticas Públicas en Educación, capítulo 6.

E. San Martín, M. Claro, T. Cabello y D. Preiss (2012), ¿Cuál es el impacto neto de habilidades cognitivas clásicas sobre habilidades TICs para el aprendizaje? Manuscript.

  • 13-02-2013