Pre-service teacher’s self-perception of digital literacy: The case of Israel

November 2020

Source: Education and Information Technologies


The purpose of this study is to assess the level of digital literacies and digital readiness of students majoring in education. The research method includes a questionnaire comprising 54 items. The sample consists of 1265 students. The results show that more than half of the participants report an overall high level of literacy in all areas. Their sense of readiness for teamwork and their ethical readiness is high. Nonetheless, a low sense of readiness is found in a first and advanced order of readiness. The practical implications of these findings are crucial, as they can assist faculty and educational policymakers identify the strengths and weaknesses of students’ digital literacies.

The research was designed to address the gap in the research literature by implementing an empirical measurement of student teachers’ perceptions of their level of Digital Literacy and Digital Readiness. The contribution of this study is the presentation of the findings of a survey that examines the Digital literacy and Digital Readiness of a representative sample of students from five colleges in Israel. The choice of pre-service teachers, i.e., undergraduate students who are in their basic training stage, is important in light of systemic reforms in Israel and worldwide, which promote the adaptation of educational systems to the digital age (Tsybulsky and Levin 2017).

The purpose of this research study is to gauge the DL and DR of education students, who are graduate students and pre-service teachers in Israeli colleges. More specifically, this research employs a valid and reliable measure of digital literacy.

Research questions

RQ 1.
What is the perceived level of digital literacy of students?

RQ 2.
Are there differences in digital literacy types and in student’s digital readiness?

RQ 3.
Do background characteristics predict the level of digital readiness?

Procedure/information collection and participants

We used an online questionnaire to anonymously collect information from five teachers’ colleges/colleges of education in the north, centre, and south of Israel. The recruitment was done with the assistance of the different institution’s managements, which sent the questionnaires via email to their students. A total of 1265 students filled out the questionnaire.

Results and discussion

Although undergraduates perceive themselves as digitally oriented and prepared, they lack the critical means to analyse and judge gathered information and its subsequent management and retrieval. This conclusion may help instructors, institutions, and policymakers to adapt the teaching curricula accordingly in order to fill this gap. In other words, there is a gap between self-perception and actual implementation of digital information. This in turn, may require the construction of specific training and development processes. The lack of proper skills may be further origin a deficit in the instruction of future generations and may also affect their future employment integration in modern society.

Summing up, the twenty-first century world of work and academia (specifically teachers), demands that higher education institutions train graduates who could integrate into the workforce. This study offers a comprehensive tool for assessing the different dimensions of DL and for further understanding DR. The SDDL research tool helps considering undergraduates DL levels. Accordingly, instructors may design their course for the development of pre-service teachers’ digital skills, which in turn, should facilitate their optimal integration as leaders in Israel’s education system. It is important to point out that pre-service teachers (undergraduate students) lack both the experience that in-service teachers have (graduate students) in teamwork and the understanding of ethical issues related to online activity. Thus, it seems that currently novice teachers lack some of the important twenty-first century skills they are expected to teach their future students.

The primary revelation during COVID-19 is the importance of digital readiness and a high level of digital literacy. While the pandemic is disrupting socio-economic activities, it is, fortunately, happening at a time of rapid digitalization. The future of education was already changing before COVID-19. In 2010, the Israeli ministry of education launched the National ICT Program to promote pedagogy and learn in schools using information and communication technologies and their assimilation into the curriculum. In light of the National ICT Program, new programs were introduced to the teacher’s colleges curriculum to prepare the pre-service and in-service teachers to teach according to the program’s objectives. The pandemic has accelerated the pace, need, and uptake of technology in teaching. The sudden necessity for online teaching revealed the need for digital readiness. Reports from schools indicate that many teachers were not ready and did not have the relevant digital literacy to change their teaching methods. The Self-Report Digital Literacies (SRDL) questionnaire used in this research is a simple to use the research tool to help teacher training colleges and schools identify their teacher’s strengths and weaknesses concerning digital readiness and digital literacy. Thus they can make the necessary changes to their course plans to accommodate challenges generated by COVID-19 lockdown.

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020