Digital literacy practices in Chilean classrooms: A critical analysis

Year: 2012

Author: Espinoza, Michelle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Chile is regarded as having fully entered the digital age and at the forefront of Latin American countries in this area. Since 1992, the Chilean Ministry of Education has made a constant effort to integrate digital technologies into the educational system. The first step was the creation of a network connecting government-financed primary and secondary schools called the 'Enlaces' programme. The underlying purpose of ICT integration into Chilean classrooms is to create a knowledge-based society and economy.

The focus on technology is a 'global trend' when it comes to education and policy making. Chile is part of that trend. As a result, a set of standards for digital literacy skills have been developed for schools to incorporate technology into classroom activities. The ICT standards developed for Chilean students and pre-service teachers have been informed by theories coming from studies conducted in the United States, the UK, and Australia. More recently, teacher education programmes at university have started to integrate the development of digital literacy skills for pre-service teachers into the curriculum.

Chile has been participating in international standardized evaluations since the late 1990s, measuring students' scores against those obtained by students in post-industrialised countries. The reality is that Chile does not have the GDP of the developed countries which have been used as a reference point to inform policy. So, even though the integration of ICT into the Chilean educational system has come a long way in the last 20 years, the digitally-led transformation of the literacy practices in the Chilean classrooms has failed to materialize. Limited access to hardware, the internet, appropriate infrastructure, and a curriculum which claims to have a constructivist formulation but is being forced to fit within a more positivist school paradigm have prevented ICT integration from being more successful.

This paper presents a critical analysis of what Neil Selwyn calls 'the state of the actual' regarding digital technologies use (or not) in the Chilean context. It suggests that for better implementation of educational policies focused on ICT integration in Chilean classrooms, close attention should be paid to the realities of digital technologies use in education within the Chilean context. The drive to be part of the digital age revolution at all costs does not allow policy makers to see that most of the time the reality fails to match the rhetoric. This is especially the case in the absence of a theoretical perspective about the actual use of ICT within the local Chilean context.