Australia leads in computer use in class

Mary Fogarty
Research Officer

Australian school students, particularly girls, have the highest use of computers for study, and Australian teachers had the highest focus on developing computer and information literacy, an international survey shows.

NSW had the highest proportion (84 per cent) of students at schools where many or almost all teachers had participated in professional development courses on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in teaching.

An International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) released by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) gathered data from almost 60,000 year 8 students in more than 3300 schools in 21 countries as well as data from almost 35,000 teachers, school ICT coordinators and school principals.

ICILS revealed that Australia had the highest percentage of students who used computers at school. Australian students also reported significantly higher use of computers for study purposes than the average across participating ICILS countries. Australian girls were significantly more likely to report the use of computers for study than Australian boys.

Australian year 8 students’ skills in collecting and managing information and producing and exchanging information were exceeded only by those of students in the Czech Republic.

Internationally, teachers in Australia reported the strongest emphasis on developing computer and information literacy.

In Australia, every three students had access to one computer compared with the international average of 18 students per computer. More than half of Australian students brought their own computers to class.

At least 95 per cent of Australian students were at schools where student email accounts were available. Australia was also the only country where all students attended schools where email accounts were offered to teachers.

In other countries, the least common computer resources available were tablet devices (available at an average of 19 percent of ICILS schools): 64 per cent of Australian students, however, attended schools where these were offered.

More than 94 per cent of teachers reported using ICT with their year 8 class in their teaching and learning practices.

Teachers’ experiences and views about their use of ICT in their schools did not appear to be related to their gender. Australian teachers aged 29 years or younger had the highest ICT confidence and those aged over 50 had the lowest.

Social media as an ICT teaching tool was used by only 1 per cent of teachers in Australia and internationally by an average of 4 per cent of teachers.

Across Australia, at least 90 per cent of students attended schools where increasing the range of digital learning resources and providing for participation in professional development on the use of ICT were considered medium or high-priority goals.