Archive for the ‘Surveys about it-skills and Denmark’ Category

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Do Danish teachers use computers the most in Europe?

January 5, 2008

A somewhat ‘old’ report from August 2006 made the news when The Danish Ministry of Education (UVM) on December 26th 2007 made a press release about results from the Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools 2006 – Head Teacher and Classroom Teacher Surveys in 27 European Countries.

What strikes me, is the fact that the press release – bearing the title “Danish teachers use computers most in class in Europe” (my translation) – seems to ignore this highly interesting paragraph from the report:

There are significant variations in the intensity of ICT use in schools across Europe. Extreme values are reached in the UK where 38% of those teachers using computers in class use it in more than 50% of the lessons. Interestingly, in those countries known for rather low ICT usage in schools, teachers using computers in class do so rather frequently and intensively. The high figures for using ICT in more than half of their lessons in Hungary (27%), Poland (24%), Greece (22%), and Portugal (19%) can be used to illustrate this.

Interestingly, teachers in countries like Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands etc do not belong to the (very) intensive ICT users in class.”

(Source: 1 Executive Summary and Conclusion, page 21: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/docs/studies/final_report_3.pdf)

Well, more stuff to reflect upon… Is it how much the teachers use the computers or how they use them, that is most interesting? It would be more interesting to seek answers to questions like how do Danish teachers use and make the most of computers in the course of teaching, and in which ways do teachers’ use of computers influence the students’ learning possibilities? The statement in itself that teachers use computers more or less doesn’t tell us whether their ways of using computers are appropriate.

A few examples (in Danish) of how the information from the press release quickly spread throughout various media:  

Folkeskolen: “Danske lærere er gode til at bruge computere i undervisningen” see http://www.folkeskolen.dk/ObjectShow.aspx?ObjectId=50527, 3rd January, 2008, 12.34 PM. (Title in English: “Danish teachers are good at using computers in class” – my translation)

CEDI: “Danske lærere bruger computeren mest i undervisningen i Europa” see http://www.cedi.dk/visNyhed.aspx?ID=5992, 4th January, 2008. (Title in English: “Danish teachers use the computer the most in class in Europe” – my translation)

It- og Telestyrelsen: “Danske lærere i front med it i undervisningen” see http://www.it-borger.dk/den-nye-it-verden/nyheder/danske-lerere-i-front-med-it-i-undervisningen, 4th January, 2008. (Title in English: “Danish teachers are in front with ICT in class” – my translation)

In two of the titles, as well as in the press release from the Danish Ministry of Education, high amounts of ICT use translates into being good and being in front. In other words, once again, the equation becomes: the more ICT use =  the better and the more being in front. Most ICT use = being best and being in the top.

Sources: 

UVM Press release (in Danish): “Danske lærere bruger computere mest i undervisningen i Europa” see http://www.uvm.dk/07/danske_laerere_bruger.htm?menuid=6410, 26th December, 2007.

The report: “Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools 2006 – Final report from Head Teacher and Classroom Teacher Surveys in 27 European Countries” see http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/docs/studies/final_report_3.pdf, Final August 2006.

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

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e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “Do Danish teachers use computers the most in Europe?”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/danish-teachers-use-computers-most-in-europe/. Version 5th January 2008.

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New ICT-barometer and action plan aimed at strengthening basic ICT-skills

December 14, 2007

Today the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (VTU) announced a new action plan for the strengthening of the Danish citizens’ basic ICT-skills (Source: http://get.dav.itst.rackhosting.com/Publikationer/Danskernes_it-faerdigheder/index.htm). The initiatives mentioned in the new action plan is especially targeted the so-called ICT-weak groups in the Danish population with no or low ICT-skills.  

The action plan is the result of a survey about Danish citizens’ (16 years or older) digital literacy. The survey was conducted and reported by the National IT and Telecom Agency (“Borgernes IKT-færdigheder i Danmark” January, 2007). According to the report approx. 40 % of the Danish population have no or low ICT-skills (more info about the report in Danish see IT- og Telestyrelsen: http://www.itst.dk/e-laering-og-it-faerdigheder/publikationer/borgernes-ikt-ferdigheder-i-danmark/Borgernes%20IKT-ferdigheder%20i%20Danmark.pdf ). The ministry announces that the survey conducted by the National IT and Telecom Agency will form the new national ICT-barometer.

According to the report about the Danish citizens’ digital literacy (p. 14) the survey takes point of departure in a concept of “ICT literacy” that is defined as a combination of technical skills and cognitive skills:

“ICT literacy cannot be defined primarily as the mastery of technical skills. The panel concludes that the concept of ICT literacy should be broadened to include both critical cognitive skills as well as the application of technical skills and knowledge. These cognitive skills include general literacy, such as reading and numeracy, as well as critical thinking and problem solving. Without such skills, the panel believes that true ICT literacy cannot be attained. (Source: “Digital Transformation – Framework for ICT literacy”, ETS, 2002, page 1: http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/Information_and_Communication_Technology_Literacy/ictreport.pdf)

It seems to me, that with an approach emphasizing cognitive skills, it is not a coincidence that the (international) panel’s definition of ICT literacy is also focusing on information, and that the overall aim is formulated as empowering people (individuals) to function in a knowledge society:

“ICT literacy is using digital technology, communication tools, and/or networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society.” (Ibid., p. 3)

The question is whether this concept and imaginary of digital literacy is indeed useful for the purpose of creating knowledge about whether Danish citizens are empowered to use ICT and digital media in today’s as well as tomorrow’s knowledge society?

Professor of education David Buckingham (Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, London Knowledge Lab) is just one example of an internationally acknowledged media researcher who argues that when dealing with ICT and digital media it is crucial to be aware of the fact that we are not simply dealing with matters of information, technologies, and their functionalities.

According to David Buckingham “most discussions of digital literacy remain primarily preoccupied with information – and therefore tend to neglect some of the broader cultural uses of the internet… From this perspective, a digital literate individual is one who can search efficiently, who compares a range of sources, and sorts authoritative from non-authoritative, and relevant from irrelevant, documents… there is little recognition here of the symbolic or persuasive aspects of digital media, or the emotional dimensions of our uses and interpretations of these media, or indeed of aspects of digital media that exceed mere <<information>>” (Source: Buckingham, David, “Defining digital literacy: What do young people need to know about digital media?”, p. 266. Published in Digital Kompetanse, 4-2006, pages 263-276).

In a highly digitalized society like Denmark, we are continuously faced with multiple new media and media convergences. It is imperative that we include the emergent competencies that empower people to critically approach and engage in activities with new forms of media, and hence also in new ways of participating in an across different multimodal sites of activities. When using ICT and digital media we are facing complexities that transcend being able to send an e-mail, send / receive SMS, attach documents and claiming to be able to chat. In order to empower the Danish citizens we should be focusing on and encouraging multimodal and multiple media literacies.

Maybe we should be asking ourselves whether this ICT-barometer is in fact doing what we need?

What kinds of knowledge does it create? 

How does it provide us with new knowledge?

In which ways does it create relevant knowledge? 

How does it provide us with usable knowledge? 

How does it enable us to move in a relevant direction?

For further inspiration on this theme, I can recommend visiting David Buckingham’s homepage (see: http://www.childrenyouthandmediacentre.co.uk/staff.asp?TableName=&RowID=9&PeopleID=1) as well as Ofcom’s Media Literacy Publications and Research, where you’ll find reports on media literacy and adults, children and young people, older people, disabled people – just to mention a few. And two highly interesting reports “Adult Media Literacy” and “Media Literacy of Children and Young People”, both are reviews of research literature (See: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/advice/media_literacy/medlitpub/medlitpubrss/?=87101).

Sources in Danish about the new action plan and ICT-barometer:

http://www.itst.dk/e-laering-og-it-faerdigheder/publikationer/danskernes-it-ferdigheder-en-malrettet-indsats/danskernes-it-ferdigheder-en-malrettet-indsats and http://get.dav.itst.rackhosting.com/Publikationer/Danskernes_it-faerdigheder/index.htm

Related article in Computerworld (published December 21st 2007, 9.33 AM) under the headline “Critique: Sander’s new competence plan is a disappointment” (My translation. Original source:  http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43374?a=rss&i=0. Danish title”Kritik: Sander skuffer med ny kompetenceplan”). The main critique of the article is the fact that the ministry has only decided to spend kr. 10 mill. in relation to the new action plan.

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

Please note that if you copy my writings you must:

• include this copyright note

• you should observe the conventions of academic citation in a version of the following form:

e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “New IT-barometer and action plan aimed at strengthening basic IT-skills”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/pisa-2006/. Version 3rd January 2008.

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PISA 2006

December 12, 2007

Denmark has once again been hit by a statistical thermometer claiming to be measuring young people’s ICT use and ability to perform particular activities with computers and internet. This time it is called PISA 2006, part of which is about 15-16 year olds and their self-assessments of ICT usage in primary schools as well as outside school.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006  Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World is conducted by OECD, and it is the third PISA survey. The first was conducted in 2000 and the second in 2003.

According to the Danish Ministry of Education (see references below) 57 countries have participated in PISA 2006. Approximately 400.000 15-16 year old students representing 32 million students in the 57 participating countries. Approximately 4.500 Danish students have participated in the Danish part of the survey.

The Danish results of PISA 2006 are being compared to the Danish results from PISA 2000 and PISA 2003. This time it has not been a huge surprise that the young people’s ICT usage outside school has exploded since PISA 2000 e.g. girls use of ICT almost every day outside school in Denmark has gone up from 27 % in 2000 to 44 % in 2003 and now 79 % in 2006; boys use of ICT almost everyday outside school in Denmark har gone up from 63 % in 2000 to 74 % in 2003 and now 90 % in 2006. However, what has turned out to be a magnificent surprise, is the fact that the students’ ICT usage in schools seems to have moved nowhere and maybe even gone down a bit in the past 6 years (Source: Danish report written by Professor Niels Egelund, available at the Danish Ministry of Education’s homepage, Table B7.2.b og B7.3.b: http://www.uvm.dk/07/documents/pisa_rapport.pdf).  

This is a huge surprise that must render the politicians flabbergasted. Especially since the national e-learning strategy launched in June 2007 did not include initiatives targeting primary and secondary schools, based on the assumption that they were already doing well. The government has been focusing on the fact that Denmark is one of the leading countries when it comes to internet access and amount of students per computer in primary schools.

So here I go again… wondering… Asking myself, what this is about?

First of all, there is a tendency to believe in the equation: more ICT = more usage. This however, only explains part of the story… 

Within half a year we have gone from a state of excitement to a state of crisis in the Danish primary schools. Within one year Denmark has been depicted as both characterized by approx. 40 % it-illiterates and we have recently been placed at the top of the EU27 countries when it comes to computer and broadband access in households as well as individuals’ ICT skills (see my previous comments on these events: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/category/surveys-about-it-skills-and-denmark/)

According to Professor Niels Egelund, in PISA 2006 we are not able to tell what computers and internet are used for, when the students answer that they are using them in school. So we cannot even say, that when students use computers in schools, it is for educational purposes. Furthermore, answering that ICT  is used almost every day, doesn’t say anything about how much. Even if it did, amount of use and kinds of usage still says nothing about what is being learned from this. The learning and not amounts of students’ usage must be what is relevant in relation to a school context. Also, it seems to me that teachers’ use of ICT for instructional purposes (supporting students’ learning) is not included in PISA 2006. 

Another – maybe even more important – issue is the fact that surveys like PISA 2006 are focusing on separate spheres of everyday living such as either school or home. This means, that the daily criss-crossings between everyday sites of activities become excluded. When students answer how much they use ICT in school (instead of in relation to school activities) we get an unrealistic picture of the complex ways ICT’s participates in students lives in relation to educational purposes. Most students use a variety of ICT’s and digital media in relation to school activities when they are not in school e.g. at home doing homework.

And… furthermore, it is a real possibility that even though high numbers of computers and internet are present in schools, they are not used or experienced as usable / relevant. 

So actually, it is quite difficult to conclude anything useful about the PISA 2006 figures and numbers. ICT may be used more or less; however, this does not necessarily provide us with new knowledge about what really matters when talking about youth, technologies and learning. But numbers count, and even if not everything important in everyday living is countable, PISA 2006 has already generated quite a few media responses depicting the Danish primary school as in a state of crisis.

The Danish free online paper Computerworld has e.g. brought tree articles related to the PISA 2006 results. The English translations of the title of the three articles are “Danish school students’ computer-use drops”, “The IT-branch worries about the it-future of the primary school”, and “Political parties:  Haarder must stop the it-crisis in primary school” (Haarder is the Danish Minister of Education).

I have just read part of Thomas Ryberg’s really interesting PhD thesis “Patchworking as a Metaphor for Learning – Understanding youth, learning and technology” (2007, see: http://www.ell.aau.dk/PhD-Thesis-on-Power-Users.429.0.html).  In chapter 11 he critically discusses the concept of “power users of technology” and how different surveys and research on ICT, youth and learning take point of departure in an imaginary about immediate coherence between amount of ICT, use, and development of relevant skills. Squarely put this equation is often used to conclude on ICT skills: many computers + broadband access + much use = relevant ICT skills. Ryberg shows through his thesis that this is a misleading assumption.

I find Ryberg’s point very important, because this means that we should seriously stop being so focused on numbers and instead start critically creating valuable knowledge about the learning, skills, competencies and literacies that are in fact supported by various ways of using ICT in as well as outside schools. Ryberg’s work also reminds us that we should not romanticize ICT usage in and off itself based on the assumption that more is better.     

Before making hasty decisions about e.g. testing of ICT skills in primary schools – most likely based on misleading assumptions about the roles, functions, effects, and meaning of ICT in schools, I sincerely hope that the politicians will decide to spend true energy on and put an effort into thorough investigations (not merely quantitatively oriented and superficial mappings, monitoring and evaluations).

References:

The Danish Ministry of education’s homepage about PISA 2006: http://www.uvm.dk/07/pisa.htm?menuid=6410 ).

OECD’s PISA homepage: http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,2987,en_32252351_32235731_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

The three mentioned articles (in Danish) in Computerworld:

1. ”Danske skoleelevers computer-brug falder” (4. December 2007):  http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43028?a=related&i=43166. 2. “It-branchen bekymret over folkeskolens it-fremtid” (11. December 2007, kl. 13.47): http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43163?a=block&i=189. 3. ”Partier: Haarder må standse folkeskolens it-krise” (11. December 2007, kl. 14.31): http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43166?a=block&i=189

Other relevant articles in Danish:

“Bertel Haarder: Vi er stadig nummer et i verden” (Computerworld, 13. december 2007, kl. 11.56:  http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43219?a=newsletter&i=1477).

”Skolens computere bliver ikke brugt” (Nordjyske, 12. December 2007, kl. 22.08: http://www.nordjyske.dk/Nyheder/indland.aspx?ctrl=10&data=2%2C2602988%2C5%2C3&count=1)

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

Please note that if you copy my writings you must:

• include this copyright note

• you should observe the conventions of academic citation in a version of the following form:

e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “PISA 2006”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/pisa-2006/. Version 14th December 2007. 

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Are the Danish citizens’ IT-skills in fact in top?

December 5, 2007

Yesterday, I found an article on the Internet with the title “Danish people’s IT-competencies are in top” (written in Danish “Danskernes it-kompetencer i top”, see: http://epn.dk/teknologi/it/article1191474.ece.

Not even a year ago a report about the Danish citizens it-competencies claimed that approx. 40 % of the Danish people may be characterized as it-illiterates (see my commentary on this: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/40-it-illiterates-in-denmark-the-worlds-most-digitalized-society/ ) . This made me wonder.

What is going on?  

This is the case – as I see it:

EUROSTAT has conducted the “Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals” 2007, and published on December 3rd 2007 the Data in Focus document “Internet usage in 2007 Households and individuals” based on the data collected from the community survey among 16-74 year olds (see: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-QA-07-023/EN/KS-QA-07-023-EN.PDF). 

One of the titles in the 3 page document is “Individuals’ Internet skills: one in ten has created a web page”. This is interesting, but what does it mean?

When looking, it is actually a matter of “Figure 3: Individuals who have ever carried out specific Internet related activities in EU27, 2007 (%)” (my underlining).  

I ask: Is “ever carried out” equal to having the skills needed?

The other figures in the survey are about internet access and broadband connections in households. Denmark is once again placed among the top 2/3 countries.

I ask again: If Denmark is to be placed in top when it comes to diffusion of internet access and broadband connections, what does it mean? How can we use this information? 

Methods are never just tools for describing the world. Methods, whether quantitative or qualitative, enact worlds. The important question is in which ways do various methods enact worlds? The EUROSTAT survey may provide numbers that indicate that certain percentages of the households in the countries have internet and broadband, but it doesn’t really say anything about the accessibility of the internet for the people in those households. Furthermore, the survey is one imaginary about what it takes to become it skilled. According to the survey “ever carried out specific Internet related  activities” = having “internet skills”.   

Rather than pursuing the quest for the top position (whatever that means), we should start wondering about the enactments that are made.

What I find really interesting about the EUROSTAT survey is that Iceland (a non EU27 country) seems to score highest in most of the figures. There are great differences in the circumstances of the different countries. But furthermore, what strikes me are the remarkable differences across countries when it comes to individuals who have ever carried out specific internet related activities. There are clearly various ways of approaching and using it across countries and households. E.g. Denmark and Norway (the other non EU27 country included in the survey) are the two countries where most people answer that they have ever carried out internet related activities such as “Keep viruses, spyware, adware off my computer”.

So instead of jumping to quick conclusions about the temperature of the Danish citizens it-competences, I believe that we should use the figures and numbers to start thinking about our enactments of worlds and differences between worlds…

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

Please note that if you copy my writings you must:

• include this copyright note

• you should observe the conventions of academic citation in a version of the following form:

e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “Are the Danish citizen’s ICT skills in fact in top?”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/are-the-danish-citizens-it-skills-in-fact-in-top/ . Version 11th December 2007. 

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40 % it-illiterates in Denmark – the world’s most digitalized society?

November 18, 2007

How is it that the world’s most digitalized society has managed to become a society characterized by approx. 40 % ICT-illiterates as suggested by a survey of the citizens’ (16 years old or older) digital literacy in Denmark (published by Teknologisk Institut, January 2007)?

According to World Economic Forum, Denmark tops the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007’s “Networked Readiness Index” (March 2007 see press release: http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest%20Press%20Releases/gitr_2007_press_release). It is difficult, but yet pivotal, that Denmark takes a serious self reflective look in the mirror and analyses Denmark as an ICT-nation.

There may be several issues at stake. One is the Networked Readiness Index. What does it really say? A second issue is the measurement of Danish citizens’ digital literacy. What is digital literacy, and is it measureable? What does it mean to be an it-illiterate in Denmark? A third matter to consider is how ICT and digital media participates in Danish citizens’ everyday lives – at home, at work and in school? A fourth question is, what can we use a top position for? What does it tell us?

We actually know very little about how ICT and digital media participates in Danish people’s everyday conduct of living. Since using and learning to use technologies must be viewed as joint activities, it is central to attend to the ways in which ICT and digital media becomes used in and across the everyday practices of people’s lives.

We know a lot about quantities and distribution of computers and internet in Danish homes, education and the public as well as private industry. We also have a lot of knowledge – but not enough – from research worldwide on formal learning activities with ICT and digital media, mostly in relation to formal goal- and content-oriented purposes in various educational contexts.

However, as informal ways of using and learning with ICT and digital media in the course of people’s everyday conduct of living is really where most of our societal e-learning is taken place, it is central that we emphasize a more systematic focus on these aspects of being an ICT-nation.

We see more and more examples of non-constructive ways of using ICT and digital media in our society – it is not only a Danish, but also a worldwide tendency: Happy Slapping, identity theft and other e-crimes. The spread of new technologies is not in and of itself something good.

Appointed as the world’s most digital society, we should consider ourselves obliged to take upon us the societal responsibility of keeping a critical stance towards being in this position. It isn’t just a case of the more the merrier. Having more doesn’t always turn out to be a good thing.

A highly digitalized society as Denmark is continuously in a state of becoming. With the speed of development, distribution as well as usages of ICT and digital media, it is a difficult but also an imperative task that we develop ways to analyze Denmark as a society in the making. We must invent ways to investigate enactments of societal regularities, variations of practices, as well as competent subjects with ICT and digital media.

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

Please note that if you copy my writings you must:

• include this copyright note

• you should observe the conventions of academic citation in a version of the following form:

e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala: “40 % it-illiterates in Denmark – the world’s most digitalized society?”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/40-it-illiterates-in-denmark-the-worlds-most-digitalized-society/ . Version 11th December 2007.