It turns out Australian students’ affection towards ebooks, smartphones and computers are boosting their digital literacy after a report identified Aussie students were outperforming their international counterparts.
Australian students are engaging with digital texts better than their international counterparts. The digital reading literacy assessment was conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and assessed students from 19 countries.
Australia ranked in second place, tied with New Zealand. South Korean students nabbed the top spot. Other participating countries include Hong Kong, Ireland, Chile and Sweden.
Students were assessed on their ability to read, understand and engage with online and electronic texts. Also taken into consideration was their use of information and communication technologies, whether at home or school.
“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.
Coinciding with Australia’s aptitude for the digital is its high smartphone penetration, with 52% of Australians owning a smartphone. This is the second highest penetration in the world.
The 2009 data was analysed and compiled into a new report by the Australian Council for Educational research, who identified students in all states performed significantly higher in digital than print reading literacy. Dr Sue Thomson, co-author of the report was not surprised.
“Students are online more often than they have ever been,” she said. “So many of them have access to computers at home and at school.”
Generally students were “far more engaged with the [digital reading] assessment than they were with the normal print reading literacy assessment.
“In general, we find when students are more engaged with what they’re doing, they’re better at it.”
Of the 14,000 15-year-old students assessed, the SMH reports 95% have a home computer connected to the internet.
Despite Australia’s strong overall performance, differences between gender and background were areas of concern.
Girls outperformed boys in digital literacy (a trend that continued from print); however, boys were more adept to online navigation.
Students in public schools, remote areas, of indigenous descent or a low socio-economic background, continued to be disadvantaged in digital reading as they were in print reading, noted the report.
“Students in disadvantaged groups are still not developing the skills they need for the 21st century.”