Tech savvy - or digitally literate? How Australian students are measuring up

Results from the latest national assessment round of ICT skills (information and communication technology) show that being a whiz on SnapChat and Instagram won’t prepare today’s students to face a digital future.

Maybe it should have been obvious.

Proficiency in advanced phone-ology - texting, streaming and posting photos and stories on social media - is one thing. Digital literacy, as defined by the Digital Technologies and ICT Capability units of the Australian Curriculum, is quite another.

Or so suggest results released last week by the National Assessment Program, which found many students’ abilities had actually slumped.  

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The assessment compared current student performance on digital literacy with its peak in 2008. Then, two-thirds of Year 10 students were found to be proficient (and none, presumably, owned their own smartphone.)

Today, only slightly more than half in that age cohort are showing proficiency, despite the soaring rates of mobile device ownership over that period.

Year Six students showed declining levels of digital literacy as well.

Interestingly, girls performed slightly better than boys, who were more likely to report using technology for entertainment.

The Australian Curriculum defines ICT literacy as “The ability of individuals to use ICT appropriately to access, manage and evaluate information, develop new understandings, and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society.”

Two new curricula designed to promote digital literacy - ICT Capability and Digital Technologies - were rolled out in 2015 with the aim of providing a systematic and sequential approach for teachers to develop their students’ ICT literacy.

While it’s still early days, are these assessment results an early warning to educators?


At Family Zone, we’re committed to helping students, educators and parents alike to use technology critically, mindfully - and safely. To book a demo or learn more, visit familyzone.com/schools

Topics: Cyber Safety, Cyber Experts, BYOD, classroom management

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