System-wide approaches are needed to leverage the potential of digital education technologies to improve learning outcomes


13/12/2023 – The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an acceleration of the digitisation of education, such as the introduction of online learning platforms, according to the latest edition of the OECD Digital Education Outlook released today. While online learning platforms are now present in 26 out of 29 jurisdictions included in the report, countries and jurisdictions have yet to adopt system-wide approaches to the digital transformation of education, which foster tailored and proactive learning and examination, and support better decision-making across the education system.


The 2023 report also finds that 19 out of the 29 jurisdictions have systems in place that collect information about the trajectory of individual students, which are currently used for statistical purposes. Of these, only 45% integrate students’ individual results of standardised national evaluations, 31% provide dashboards or visualisations and another 31% link student and teacher data, features that would help educators to tailor instruction to students’ needs. Similarly, only 5 countries have early warning systems to predict risks of student dropout and trigger early interventions.


The most common digital learning resources are static ones, as they are often the result of the digitisation of paper-based material. These types of resources are available in 26 out of the 29 jurisdictions. So far, no jurisdiction publicly provides AI-powered resources, such as intelligent tutoring systems, and only two – the Netherlands and the United States – use them in primary education.


There are significant disparities in the availability and use of digital tools, underscoring the need for comprehensive professional development and skill upgrades for teachers and administrators. For instance, despite 60% of secondary education teachers having undergone digital education training in the past year, 20% still report the need for further training.


“The digital transformation of education has the potential to fundamentally improve the teaching and learning experience. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a welcome boost to digital education, but we need to further leverage the necessary tools and systems to adapt instruction to the needs of each student and design early warning systems to identify students at risk of dropping out of school” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said. “System-wide approaches, which ensure coherence of tools, technologies and actors of the education system, are essential to fully unleash the potential of digital technologies to improve learning outcomes.”


The OECD Digital Education Outlook 2023 provides insights into how to advance the digital transformation of education systems across the OECD. These include identifying clear use cases in which digital solutions could help achieve specific policy objectives, enhancing the interoperability of data across the education ecosystem, leveraging on public procurement to incentivise providers of education technologies to incorporate interoperability standards and ensuring privacy regulations do not prevent from identifying algorithmic biases.


In light of the recent rapid advances in the development and use of generative artificial intelligence, the report proposes new guidelines that advocate for responsible use of artificial intelligence in education, considering aspects such as equality of opportunity, privacy, bias and transparency.


They cover the need for providing equal opportunities to access high-quality connectivity and digital learning resources, as well as for the continuous monitoring and evaluation of digital education policies to reassess the impact of the integration of AI into educational contexts.


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Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to preserve individual liberty and improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.


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