ICILS 2018 Framework

Assessment or survey framework
Computer and information literacy (CIL)

Definition: Computer and information literacy (CIL) referred to an individual’s ability to use computers to investigate, create, and communicate in order to participate effectively at home, at school, in the workplace, and in society.

The CIL construct included the following elements:

  • Strands – the overarching conceptual categories for framing the skills and knowledge addressed by the CIL instruments.
  • Aspects – the specific content categories within a strand. 


Strand 1: Understanding computer use


  • The fundamental technical knowledge and skills that underpin the operational use of computers as tools for working with information.
  • Included individual’s knowledge and understanding of the generic characteristics and functions of computers.

This strand is comprised of two aspects:

  • Foundations of computer use: The knowledge and understanding of the principles underlying the function of computers rather than the technical detail of how it works.
  • Computer use conventions: Knowledge and application of the software interface conventions that help computer users make sense of and operate software.


Strand 2: Gathering information

Explanation: Embraces the receptive and organizational elements of information processing and management.

This strand comprised two aspects

  • Accessing and evaluating information:
    • The investigative processes that enable a person to find, retrieve, and make judgments about the relevance, integrity, and usefulness of computer-based information.
    • The necessary process of filtering the vast array of information sources and information available online before a user can make use of them.
  • Managing information
    • The capacity of individuals to work with computer-based information.
    • The ability to adopt and adapt information classification and organization schemes in order to arrange and store information so that it can be used or reused efficiently. 


Strand 3: Producing information

Explanation: Focused on using computers as productive tools for thinking and creating.

This strand comprised two aspects:

  • Transforming information
    • The ability to use computers to change how information is presented so that it is clearer for specific audiences and purposes.
    • Typically involves the use of the formatting, graphics, and multimedia potential of computers to enhance the communicative effect or efficacy of (frequently text-based or numerical) information.
  • Creating information
    • The ability to use computers to design and generate information products for specified purposes and audiences.
    • These original products may be entirely new or may build upon a given set of information to generate new understandings.


Strand 4: Digital communication


  • Focused on the competencies regarding information sharing in social networks.
  • Social, legal and ethical responsibilities associated with information sharing.

This strand has two aspects:

  • Sharing information
    • The understanding of how computers are and can be used, as well as the ability to use computers to communicate and exchange information with others.
    • Specifically, the knowledge and understanding of a range of computer-based communication platforms, such as e-mail, wikis, blogs, instant messaging, sharing media, and social networking websites.
  • Using information safely and securely
    • An understanding of the legal and ethical issues of computer-based communication from the perspectives of both the publisher and the consumer.
    • Also, risk identification and prevention as well as the parameters of appropriate conduct.
    • Specifically, the responsibility of users to maintain a certain level of technical computer security, such as using strong passwords, keeping virus software up to date, and not submitting private information to unknown publishers.


Computational Thinking (CT)

Definition: Computational thinking (CT) referred to an individual’s ability to recognize aspects of real-world problems which are appropriate for computational formulation and to evaluate and develop algorithmic solutions to those problems so that the solutions could be operationalized with a computer.

The CT construct included the following elements:

  • Strands – the overarching conceptual categories for framing the skills and knowledge addressed by the CIL instruments.
  • Aspects – the specific content categories within a strand. 


Strand 1: Conceptualizing problems

Explanation: Acknowledgement of understanding and framing of problems in a way that allows algorithmic or systems thinking to assist in the process of developing solutions.

This strand is comprised of three aspects:

  • Knowing about and understanding digital systems
    • A person’s ability to identify and describe the properties of systems by observing the interaction of the components within a system.
    • It is used when individuals conceptualize the use of computers to solve real-world problems, which is fundamental to computational thinking.
  • Formulating and analyzing problems
    • Decomposition of a problem into smaller manageable parts and specifying and systemizing the characteristics of the task so that a computational solution can be developed.
    • Making connections between the properties of, and solutions to, previously experienced and new problems to establish a conceptual framework to underpin the process of breaking down a large problem into a set of smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Collecting and representing relevant data
    • Process of collecting and understanding the characteristics of the data from the system to make effective judgements.


Strand 2: Operationalizing solutions


  • Processes associated with creating, implementing and evaluating computer-based system responses to real-world problems.
  • Included the iterative processes of planning for implementing, testing, and evaluating algorithmic solutions to real-world problems.

This strand is comprised of two aspects:

  • Planning and evaluating solutions
    • The process of establishing the parameters of a system, including the development of functional specifications or requirements relating to the needs of users and desired outcomes with a view to designing and implementing the key features of a solution.
    • Also includes the ability to make critical judgements about the quality of computational artefacts (such as algorithms, code, programs, user interface designs, or systems) against criteria based on a given model of standards and efficiency.
  • Developing algorithms, programs and interfaces
    • Focuses on the logical reasoning that underpins the development of algorithms (and code) to solve problems.
    • Involves developing or implementing an algorithm and also automating the algorithm, typically using computer code in a way that can be implemented without the need for students to learn the syntax or features of a specific coding language.
Contextual or background framework
ICILS 2018

The contextual framework of ICILS distinguished the following levels:

  • The individual included:
    • Characteristics of the learner
    • Processes of learning
    • Learner’s level of CIL/CT
  • Home environment related to a student’s background characteristics, especially in terms of the learning processes associated with:
    • Family
    • Home
    • Other immediate out-of-school contexts
  • Schools and classrooms:
    • Encompassed all school-related factors
    • Given the cross curricular nature of CIL/CT learning, distinguishing between classroom level and school level was not useful
  • Wider community described the wider context in which CIL/CT learning took place:
    • Local community contexts (e.g., remoteness and access to Internet facilities) as well as characteristics of the education system and country
    • Global context, a factor widely enhanced by access to the World Wide Web


The status of contextual factors within the learning process was also important; these could be classified as either antecedents or processes:

  • Antecedents:
    • External factors that conditioned the ways in which CIL/CT learning takes place and therefore not directly influenced by learning-process variables or outcomes.
    • Level-specific and possibly influenced by antecedents and processes found at higher levels.
    • Examples of antecedent variables: the socioeconomic status of the student’s family and the school intake along with home resources.
  • Processes:
    • Factors that directly influenced CIL/CT learning.
    • Constrained by antecedent factors and factors found at higher levels.
    • Contained variables such as opportunities for CIL/CT learning during class, teacher attitudes toward using ICT for study tasks, and students’ use of computers at home.

Both antecedents and processes needed to be taken into account when explaining variation in CIL learning outcomes:

  • Antecedent factors shaped and constrained the development of CIL/CT.
  • The level of (existing) CIL/CT learning could influence process factors; for example, the level and scope of classroom exercises using ICT generally depended on students’ existing CIL-related proficiency.


ICILS Teacher Panel 2020

The 2020 Teacher Panel is an extension of the ICILS 2018 teacher survey and therefore built upon the same framework.

However, while all items from the 2018 study were kept, several items were added to collect specific information on the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and on the respondent’s participation (or non-participation) in the ICILS 2018 study.