Classroom access to computers for reading instruction is becoming increasingly important in developing students’ online educational research skills and expanding their literacy competencies in online reading. Access to digital resources such as PCs and tablets allow teachers to provide instruction in online reading strategies.106Since 2001, PIRLS has asked teachers about the availability and access of computers for student use in the classroom. For PIRLS 2021, access includes whether the school provides each student with a digital device, whether the class has digital devices that students can share, and whether students can bring their own digital devices to class.
Teachers’ attitudes such as self-efficacy toward technology are related to the use of technology in the classroom.107Teachers who often use technology for instruction are more confident in using technology compared to teachers who are less frequent users.108 PIRLS 2021 gathers information on teachers’ level of confidence in using digital devices in instruction.
Classroom technology can be used to create individualized instruction. While technology use in primary grades is often used for remedial purposes, technology also can provide challenging enrichment activities for more advanced students.109 Also new to PIRLS 2021 are data on how often teachers use digital devices to support learning for low-performing students, high-performing students, students with special needs, and for the whole class.
Reading instruction includes specific instruction in online reading strategies.110,111,112Compared to print media, reading on the internet poses numerous additional challenges as readers need to navigate non-linearly to locate information, evaluate the credibility of online information, and synthesize information across websites and modes. Since 2001, PIRLS has collected information on how often teachers ask students to perform various computer activities such as read texts on the computer or use the computer to write stories. With the development of ePIRLS in 2016, additional items were included to gather information on online reading instructional practices and strategies, such as whether teachers taught students how to be critical when reading on the internet and strategies for reading digital text.