Dutch primary school pupils need better digital skills
Digital skills should be a fixed part of the curriculum, say teachers and parents
Asked to grade the digital skills of the average primary school pupil, teachers give 6.1 out of 10, or just about satisfactory. Parents are a little more positive, giving 6.6 out of 10. More than a quarter of primary school teachers rated Dutch pupils' digital skills unsatisfactory. So clearly there's room for improvement. Especially considering that the great majority of parents and teachers see digital skills as an important or very important aspect of education.
The findings come from a study that research agency GfK has done for SIDN (the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands). GfK surveyed 1,195 parents and 456 teachers. Being 'media savvy' (knowing how to use on-line media safely) was more likely to be seen as a key digital skill by teachers (83%) than by parents (68%). Basic ICT skills (e.g. being able to use a computer) and information skills (being able to make use of on-line information) were also seen as key skills by a majority of respondents. Strikingly, relatively few saw programming as an important digital skill: just 17% of parents and 23% of teachers.
On the curriculum
Most parents and teachers therefore think that digital skills – including media awareness – should be part of the school curriculum. Parents and teachers also agree about the way that digital skills should be taught: 63% of parents and 68% of teachers want the topic incorporated into the teaching of existing subjects. Nearly half of parents and teachers also favour dedicated digital skills lessons.
What currently happens
Digital skills are already part of primary school teaching, according to three quarters of the teachers surveyed. Parents turn out to be less aware of what's happening: only 61% think that their children are taught digital skills, and 17% have no idea. Although teachers identify media-savviness as a necessary skill more often than anything else, basic ICT skills are the main focus of what's actually taught. Information skills are also more likely to be taught than media-savviness.
"However, not all primary schools have digital skills on the curriculum yet. Teachers put that down mainly to heavy workloads, while parents tend to see a shortage of IT competencies as the issue. Whatever the explanation for this subject not getting the attention it deserves, SIDN is very much in favour of boosting youngsters' digital capabilities. Such skills are vital for getting ahead in the modern world."SIDN supports various initiatives designed to help young people get to grips with the internet. The organisation is also involved with the Safer Internet Day(s), which take place between 5 and 9 February this year. In tandem with Reshift Digital and Creative Kids Concepts, SIDN is making a free technology pack available to 2,700 primary schools as well. The schools were able to collect their free Bendoo Arduino Box teaching packs at the IPON show for education professionals, held yesterday and today. With the materials in the pack, learning the basics of technology and programming is a fun, interactive experience.
"Here at SIDN, we want to play our part in promoting that objective. That's why we support CodePact, the organisation behind Code Week, for example. Last year's Code Week, in October 2017, saw the publication of a roadmap jointly developed by CodePact, Mediawijzer.net, Kennis and Koninklijke Bibliotheek. The aim is to tackle digital inequality by passing on digital skills to more young people. A circle of support is being established to provide demand-led assistance with the introduction of digital literacy teaching."