SITES 2006 focused on the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in teaching and learning in mathematics and science classrooms. It examined how teachers and students used ICT, and investigated the extent to which certain pedagogical practices considered conducive to the development of “21st century” skills were present. These 21st century skills were defined in terms of students' abilities to engage in lifelong learning (collaborative and self-directed inquiry) and their connectedness (ability to collaborate with and learn from peers and experts). In addition, analyses were conducted to identify conditions at the system, school, and teacher level that were associated with different pedagogical practices and different ways of using ICT for teaching and learning.
The study used questionnaires to collect information from school principals, technology coordinators, and mathematics and science teachers; a national context questionnaire gathered policy information on education and ICT use. For 15 countries that participated in SITES Module 1, SITES 2006 also provided an opportunity to examine changes in pedagogy and ICT use since 1998. The main data collection took place in 2006. In 18 countries, the data were collected online.
SITES 2006 consisted of two survey components: a survey of schools (school principals and technology coordinators), and a survey of mathematics and science teachers of students in the eighth grade.
Participating Education Systems
Canada (Alberta and Ontario), Chile, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Russian Federation (with Moscow as a benchmarking system), Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain (Catalonia), and Thailand.
SITES 2006 was managed at the international level by a consortium, consisting of the international coordinating center at the University of Twente, the University of Hong Kong, and the IEA, working in close cooperation with the national centers of participating countries.
ICT use in education
Twenty of the participating education systems reported having a system-wide policy relating to ICT in education, though their policy concerns differed. The majority of countries had at least slightly increased their ICT spending in the last 5 years and reported some level of government funding for the provision of hardware and software. With the exception of one country, nearly all of the schools in the participating countries reported having computer and Internet access for pedagogical use. However, the percentage of teachers reporting that they used ICT for teaching was comparatively low. ICT use was generally more prevalent among science teachers than mathematics teachers in most countries, but the extent to which teachers had adopted ICT differed considerably across countries, varying from 20% to 80%. Furthermore, there was no correlation between the level of ICT access (student-to-computer ratio) and the percentage of teachers who reported using ICT in their teaching.
The perceived availability of technical, administrative, and infrastructural support was the most consistent positive predictor of teachers' use of ICT. The extent of ICT use depended not only on school-level conditions, however, but also on national curriculum policies, as evidenced by large differences in the use of ICT among mathematics and science teachers within the same schools in some countries. For example, in Japan and Israel, the percentages of mathematics teachers reporting ICT use (around 22.5% in both countries) were much lower than those for science teachers from the same samples of schools (44% and 53% respectively).
21st century skills and ICT use
The perceived impact of ICT use on students was highly dependent on the pedagogical approaches adopted by teachers when using ICT. Greater student gains in 21st century skills such as collaboration and inquiry were reported by teachers with a lifelong-learning orientation (taking on a more facilitative role, providing student-centered guidance and feedback, and engaging more frequently in exploratory and team building activities with students).
Changes in ICT provisions and priorities in teaching practice
Between 1998 and 2006, great improvements in access to computers and the Internet were reported, though considerable diversity in terms of the ICT infrastructure available in schools remained. In most countries, there was a general increase in teaching practices that involved information handling (e.g., searching for information, processing data, and presenting information).
There was considerable diversity in countries' trends in development. In most countries, there was a general increase in the perceived presence of lifelong-learning pedagogy. Substantial increases were evident in several Asian countries that reported the lowest presence in 1998 (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore); conversely, a decrease in presence was reported in the three European countries (Norway, Slovenia, Denmark) that registered the highest presence of lifelong-learning pedagogy in 1998.
The IEA Second Information Technology in Education Study Module 2 (SITES-M2) was a qualitative study of innovative pedagogical practices using information and communication technology (ICT).
The study aimed to:
- identify and describe innovations that were considered valuable by each country and that might be considered for large-scale implementation in schools in other countries;
- provide policymakers with information to use for making decisions related to ICT and its role in advancing national educational goals;
- provide teachers and practitioners with new ideas about using ICT in the classroom;
- identify factors contributing to the successful use of innovative technology-based pedagogical practices.
National research teams in each of the participating countries applied a common set of case study methods to collect and analyze data on the pedagogical practices of teachers and learners, the role of ICT in these practices, and the contextual factors supporting and influencing them. Data were collected from multiple sources for each case, including questionnaires for school principals and technology coordinators, individual or group interviews, classroom observations, and supporting materials (such as teacher lesson plans). In total, 174 case studies from around the world were collected. The case selection and the collection of data were conducted in all participating countries in 2001.
The case studies of ICT-based innovative pedagogical practices were selected from among classrooms in primary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary schools.
Participating Education Systems
Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain (Catalonia), Thailand, and United States.
General characteristics of collected cases
The 174 case studies were distributed across a wide range of grade levels and subject areas. As a group, the cases were evenly divided among primary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary grades. A large number of cases were in the sciences and language arts (both mother tongue and foreign languages). A smaller group of cases were in the social sciences or creative arts. Many of the ICT-based innovations involved multidisciplinary projects.
In a large majority of cases across participating countries, teachers and students engaged in a common set of innovative pedagogical practices supported by technology. In the cases under study, teachers stepped back from their role as knowledge provider to advise students (90% of cases), create structure for student activities (80%), and monitor student progress (76%), while students collaborated with others (83%) and searched for information (74%). These changes portrayed a classroom that was very different from the traditional classroom, where the teacher lectures and students take notes or complete worksheets. They also showed important similarities in how technology was being used in many countries around the world.
Students' activities during ICT-centered lessons
In the selected cases, students were actively engaged in 'constructivist activities', such as searching for information, designing products, and publishing or presenting the results of their work. Students often collaborated with classmates on these projects and occasionally collaborated with others outside the classroom, such as students in other countries. To support these activities, productivity tools (e.g., word processing and presentation software), email, Web resources, and multimedia software were used in the majority of cases.
Teacher behavior during ICT-centered lessons
In a small number of the reported cases, teachers lectured. A large number of case reports indicated that teachers created structure for students by organizing student activities and monitoring or assessing student performance. In over 50% of cases, teachers collaborated with other teachers as part of their innovation. In only a few of the cases reported, teachers collaborated with other people outside the classroom, such as scientists, professors, and business people.
Factors associated with innovative ICT-related classroom practices
The study found that ICT-based innovations had limited impact on other classrooms or schools. In the schools where the innovations had been both sustained for some time and transferred, continuation depended on the energy and commitment of teachers, student support, the perceived value of the innovation, availability of professional development opportunities for teachers, and administrative support. Beyond these factors, innovations were more likely to continue if there was support from others in the school, as well as from external sources, funding, and supportive policies and plans. Particularly important was the connection with national ICT plans that provided resources to enable the innovation to succeed.
The aim of Module 1 of the IEA Second Information Technology in Education Study (SITES-M1) was to help countries estimate their current position relative to other countries in the educational use of information and communication technology (ICT).
The study assessed:
- the extent to which school management offered a supportive climate for ICT use in schools;
- the ICT infrastructure (equipment, software, access to the Internet, etc.) available in schools;
- the staff development and support services available with regard to ICT;
- the extent to which schools adopted objectives and practices that reflected a focus on autonomous learning strategies.
SITES-M1 examined, among other aspects, the student-to-computer ratio used for instruction, the extent to which schools had access to the Internet for instructional purposes, and the extent to which ICT contributed to changes in approaches to pedagogy. The data were collected in 1998–1999.
The study surveyed school principals and technology coordinators from a representative sample of computer-using schools from at least one of the following educational levels in each country: primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary.
Participating Education Systems
Belgium (French), Bulgaria, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, and Thailand.
England, the Netherlands, and the United States did not participate in the data collection for SITES-M1, but comparative statistics from national studies conducted at the same time were included in the SITES-M1 report.
The international coordination center was the University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands, working in close cooperation with the IEA, and the national centers of participating countries.
ICT equipment in schools
Nearly all of the participating countries had national initiatives to provide schools with ICT. The average percentage of multimedia-ready computers in primary schools was 50–75% in most countries, whereas at the secondary level it was about 25–50%. More than one third of all countries had a national initiative to give schools or their students access to the Internet. Most of the countries had already connected over 50% of their schools to the Internet, though this varied across countries (for example, in Singapore and Iceland, 100% of schools had access, compared to less than 25% of schools in some other countries).
While the ratio of students to computers differed considerably across countries (for example, at the lower-secondary level among computer-using schools, the student-to-computer ratio was 9:1 in Canada and 10:1 in New Zealand, compared to 134:1 in Lithuania and 210:1 in Cyprus), a comparison using data from TIMSS 1995 indicated that this ratio declined substantially between 1995 and 1998.
School principals generally had a positive attitude toward ICT usage in their schools. A number of school principals also reported that they had adopted ICT policies of various sorts in their schools, such as plans for equipment replacement, staff development, software acquisition, equity of access, and Internet use. The majority of school principals reported that they had a policy goal of training all teachers in the use of ICT, but this goal had been achieved in only a minority of schools in most countries.
In some schools, teachers had begun to use ICT to change toward a more student-centered pedagogical approach with the aim of making students more active in and responsible for their own learning. This change was especially apparent, for instance, at the lower-secondary level in Denmark, Israel, Canada, Hungary, and Slovenia.