1. Terminology

2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

3.2. Roles of schools


1. Terminology

The Republic of Korea does not directly define “Information and Communication Technologies” (ICT); however, the Information and Communications Technology Industry Promotion Act (amended in 2018) defines "information and communications" as a “series of activities and means for the promotion of informatization, including apparatuses, technologies, and services related to the collecting, processing, storing, searching, transmitting, receiving, and utilizing of information,” and "information and communications technology industry" as “any of the following industries that develop, manufacture, produce, or distribute products for information and communications or that provide services related to such business activities.” ICT is often referred to in laws such as the Framework Act on National Informatization (amended in 2015).

The Act on Development of E-Learning Industry and Promotion of Utilization of E-Learning (amended in 2016) defines “E-Learning” as “learning by means of electronic tools, information and communications, electric wave or broadcasting technology.” 

Education Technology is sometimes referred to as “EduTech” in the Ministry of Education’s White Papers. The 2017 White Paper describes EduTech as the focus on providing a new learning experience beyond simply providing education online. Edutech is based on the latest ICT and allows for the personalization and customization of learning to change the education scene and cultivate the talents needed in the 4th industrial revolution era. 


2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

Constitution and laws: The Republic of Korea’s Constitution of 1948 (with Amendments through 1987) guarantees free and equitable education to all citizens and promises to develop technology and encourage innovation. There is no direct reference to education technology in the Constitution, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, or the Lifelong Education Act. However, “Cyber-Universities” have been established using both the Higher Education Act and the Lifelong Education Act. The 1967 Act on the Promotion of Education in Islands and Remote Areas mandates the state to advance the development of compulsory education in islands and remote areas, and reimburse all expenses incurred in implementing such measures.  

The 1997 Framework Act on Education (as amended in 2021) in article 22, stipulates that the state and local governments should establish and implement policies to promote science and technology education. Article 30 of the 2001 Framework Act on Science and Technology charges the Minister of Education and the Minister of Science and ICT to formulate policies to help foster understanding and knowledge of science and technology and develop scientific and technological culture. Article 23 of the same act details the government’s responsibility to train its citizens scientific and technological skills through basic education, training, and higher education. The Special Act to Support Scientists and Engineers (amended in 2018) and the Basic Research Promotion and Technology Development Support Act (amended in 2019) focus on fostering talent in the field of science, technology, and engineering; however, education at the primary and secondary levels is not mentioned. 

The Act on Development of E-Learning Industry and Promotion of Utilization of E-Learning (amended in 2017) obligates the state to help develop the e-learning industry and promote the utilization of e-learning by individuals, companies, regions, educational institutions and public institutions. The same act states that the Ministry of Education may provide educational institutions with support regarding the development, distribution, or utilization of E-Learning.  

The Personal Information Protection Act (amended in 2020), the Act on the Promotion of Information Security (amended in 2018), and the Telecommunications Business Act (amended in 2012) do not mention education.   

Policies, plans and strategies: Technology Education, or kisul (“technology”), was first introduced into the public school system with the second revision of the national curriculum in 1969.  

The Korean Ministry of Education (Previously, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology ‘MEST’) develops Master Plans every few years for ICT use in Education. The 1996 Master Plan I focused on the completion of the educational ICT infrastructure and set up guidelines for ICT in education for primary and secondary schools. It also marked the creation of the Korean Education Research Information Service (KERIS) in 1999, which focuses on ICT in education and advises the government on education policies.  

The 2001 Master Plan II established an educational content-sharing system and improved teacher training for ICT in education. Online learning systems such as the Cyber Home Learning System (now the Cyber Learning System or e-Hakseupteo) and the EBS e-Learning system gave students the opportunities to study a range of topics. The National Education Information System (NEIS), which processes the data of all teachers and students in the education system, was also established during this time. The Republic of Korea also made efforts to standardize educational information and improve the schools' data infrastructure further. 

The 2004 Act on Development of E-Learning Industry and Promotion of Utilization of E-Learning called for the creation of the E-Learning Development Master Plan which included matters such as the improvement of E-learning systems and promoting E-Learning usage. This plan aimed to bridge the digital divide between social groups in the country for a more high-quality, equitable education system. 

The 2006 Master Plan III called for the transition into digital textbooks. The Korea Open Courseware (KOCW) which is the largest platform for Open Educational Resources (OER) for higher education was launched. The government also established a maintenance system for its ICT infrastructure.  

In 2010, the Ministry of Education shifted the focus by introducing within Master Plan IV the SMART education strategy. SMART education is a central government policy that aimed to ensure Self-directed, Motivated, Adaptive, Resource-enriched, and Technology-embedded Education. It pushed for the digitalization of textbooks, the implementation of a cloud computing environment, facilitating online classes and assessment methods, and increasing equitable access to technology through its Smart Device Distribution Project. 

In 2011, the 2nd Master Plan for Nurturing Science and Technology Human Resources (2011 – 2015) strengthen elementary and secondary education math and science programs and established the STEAM education framework (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics). STEAM education focuses on increasing interest and literacy in STEAM, understanding the basic principles of scientific technology and encourages problem-solving for real-world problems. STEAM classes and programs can be designed by teachers and checked against the official framework.  

The 2014 Master Plan V saw a shift towards student-centered learning with a vision of, ‘training creative minds through converging education and ICT’. The goal was to utilize the opening and sharing of public data to create online learning systems that could customize and differentiate lessons for each individual. 

In the 2015 plan for the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education, the Korean Massive Open Online Course(K-MOOC) was announced and later launched as an open service to provide free higher education courses through partnerships with domestic and international organizations. 

The current 2019 Master Plan VI (2019-2023) was created as a preemptive response to the “fourth industrial revolution”. It establishes four sectors for creating people-centered ICT-integrated future education: Creation of the future smart educational environment (improving further the education technology infrastructure); Innovation of sustainable ICT in education; Realization of ICT-based personalized educational services (supporting marginalized students with specialized learning content); and Establishment of the digital infrastructure for the sharing of educational information. 

In 2022, the government announced the "Comprehensive Plan to Nuture Digital Talent” which aims to increase digital education opportunities, strengthen digital capacities, and foster one million digital talent by 2026.  

Digital competency frameworks: ICT literacy for elementary and secondary schools contains four content domains: 1) computers and networks (familiarity with a device’s hardware and software, networks, etc.), 2) presentation and logic of information (understanding images, text, videos, etc.), 3) algorithm and modelling (learning how to solve problems and think algorithmically), and 4) information society and ethics (privacy protection, adverse effects of the internet, security).  

Furthermore, ICT literacy includes six types of abilities: 1) “Define,” the ability to recognize a problem and the information necessary to solve it, 2) “Access,” the ability to collect and explore relevant digital information, 3) “Evaluate,” the ability to critically analyze information, 4) “Create,” the ability to design and create new information, 5) “Manage,” the ability to manage and secure information and 6) “Communicate,” the ability to communicate information. 

Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The Ministry of Education set out to develop the future of education after learning from their COVID response plans. The "Top 10 Initiatives for Future Education” and the "Task Force for Transformation to Future Education” aim to identify and initiate tasks needed for future education reforms such as personalized capacity building, blended learning and innovation. In support of policy reforms for inclusive and sustainable education, the task force has three areas of focus: 1) digital infrastructure, facility (Green Smart School), and institution (modifying relevant laws and regulations for future education). It will also communicate with educational stakeholders at schools to discover new policy agendas and prepare for the future of education.” 

In order to provide teachers with more resources to conduct their classes online, copyright regulations were temporarily relaxed as a response to COVID-19 in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools

Electricity: The Electric Utility Act (amended in 2017) obligates electric utility businesses to contribute to the universal supply of electricity. 

According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (amended in 2012), the state is responsible for establishing school facilities and the local government is responsible for managing the school.  

The Republic of Korea’s 2020 Green New Deal encourages using school rooftops for renewable energy projects. School zones are also a priority for the transition into underground power lines to build a more efficient energy grid.  

Computers and devices: The 1996 ICT in Education Master Plan I built the infrastructure for ICT in public schools. One computer was provided for each teacher and per five students. The 2017 Mid-to Long-Term Master Plan in Preparation for the Intelligent Information Society aimed to install computer labs and provide wireless internet networks at all schools by 2017. To combat the digital divide, the government developed the 2020 action plan for Digital Inclusion. One thousand “Digital Competency Centers” were installed which provide digital competency education. The plan also provided 410,000 new public Wi-Fi spots and devices for underprivileged communities.  

The Ministry of Education has implemented several programs which seek to provide digital devices to underprivileged students.  

A total of 316,000 digital devices were available to be lent to students for distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools already had 230,000 of these devices in stock and available for students to lend. 

Internet connectivity: The Republic of Korea has implemented several infrastructure policies which attempted to ensure universal broadband access: Cyber Korea 21 Initiative (1999–2002), e-Korea Vision (2002–2004), and IT839 Strategy (2004–2006).  

Each classroom is provided with internet access as assured by the ICT in Education Master Plan I. The high-speed I&C network project (1995-2005), the National Information-communication Service (NIS) project and the School Net Enhancement Project (2009-2010) contributed to the establishment of internet infrastructure and improving internet speeds in schools. It continues to provide high-speed internet to 12,000 educational institutions

During the COVID-19 response, the Ministry of Science and ICT in a partnership with telecommunications companies helped install Internet in each household, with the subscription fees covered by the MPOEs

2.2.2. Technology and learning environments

The ICT in Education Master Plan II built national online learning systems such as the Cyber Learning System and the EBS e-Learning system. By 2009, 80% of national education institutes had adopted e-Learning.  

The 2017 Mid-to Long-Term Master Plan in Preparation for the Intelligent Information Society sought to increase the availability of software education for students. The Master Plan included plans to develop an intelligent learning platform and digital textbooks for students. It also promoted the use of MOOCs and created incentives for developing a sustainable learning system. 

In preparation for the transition to online education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of Korea expanded its existing public learning management systems infrastructure to be able to support the online learning of up to 6 million students. Students had free and unlimited access to online learning content which was distributed on a public E-learning website and the EBS (Korea Educational Broadcasting System) website. Digital textbooks which were already being used in schools were now available to be accessed online for free. Online learning videos were also broadcasted on several public channels and the content was differentiated to meet the needs of marginalized students with the addition of braille, captions, and Korean language support.  

KERIS and the Ministry of Education launched the Open, Easy and Resourceful (K-OER) Distance Learning Ecosystem for Korea's Higher Education system to support online classes. They also launched the OnSchool Platform, which provided teachers with educational resources, and the Community of 10,000 Representative Teachers, which brought together 10,000 teachers from 10,000 schools to connect teachers directly with key actors such as the Ministry of Education, KERIS, the Metropolitan and Provincial Offices of Education(MPOEs), and EBS.

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.3.1. Learners

The 2015 National Curriculum for primary and secondary schools seeks to educate students and develop literacy in humanities, society, science and technology. “Technology” is included as a main subject area in middle school and in high school alongside “Home Economics”. Under the curriculum, students will have a “practical and productive” learning experience that aims to develop an understanding of the concepts, principles, artefacts, and importance of the country’s changing industrial technology and development. At the elementary school level, teachers are expected to integrate “ICT education” into related subjects.  

The Guidelines for ICT Education on a national level (2000, 2005) provides five realms at five levels that can be applied at different student levels: Life in an Information Society; Understanding how to use Information Devices; Understanding Data Processing; Information Processing and Sharing; and Comprehensive Activities 

In 2019, software education (also referred to as “SW education”) was introduced to the elementary and secondary school curriculum. At the primary level, students have 17 hours of instruction in SW education per year and are encouraged to participate in other SW learning activities. In the lower-secondary level, students have 34 hours of instruction in SW education per year. In the upper-secondary level, students can take a SW elective course. 

The STEAM education framework is made up of three learning standards: 1) The ‘Presentation of Situations’ (letting students recognize problems and connect them to the real world), 2) ‘Creative Design’ (discovering unique solutions to problems) and 3) ‘Emotional Touch’ (encouraging emotional connection to real-world problems that provides interest and motivation for problem-solving). 

The Act on Fostering and Supporting Women Scientists and Technicians focuses on encouraging women in the field of science, engineering, and technology by providing basic protections, support, and affirmative action policies for them in higher education and the workforce. 

2.3.2. Teachers

In 1996, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) established the ICT Skill Standard for Teachers (ISST) which focused on teacher computer literacy skills. By 2001, teacher training in ICT shifted to ICT integration in the classrooms. “Education methodology and educational technology” is a mandatory course in the general pedagogical theories course requirement for initial teacher training. The course includes classes on software utilization. 

Following the SMART education strategy implementation, the Smart Education Teacher Training Accreditation System was created. Following the transition into digital textbooks, the Teacher Informatization Competence Development Project was developed to aid in the application and dissemination of digital textbooks in the classroom. 

The 2004 ICT in Education Master Plan II required 33% of teachers to undergo ICT training annually followed by a proficiency evaluation. Now, every year, 60,000 teachers are trained in software with customized training programs that reflect their seniority and experience. 

KERIS provides training courses for educators to instruct them on how to use ICT education technologies and cyber violence prevention. Courses on distance education have been available for teachers since 2003. ICT symposiums are also held yearly to reinforce teacher ICT competencies. The National Education and Training Institute under the Ministry of Education also offers technology courses on its website. 

In 2020, the Ministry of Education launched an interactive online knowledge-sharing platform Knowledge Spring that provided teachers with training on education technology. 

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

2.4.1. Data privacy

The 1948 Constitution of the Republic of Korea guarentees the rights to privacy, privacy of communications and freedom of expression. The Personal Information Protection Act (amended in 2020) sets protections and limitations on the data collection of individuals and establishes rights for the data subject; however, educational institutions are not explicitly mentioned in the act. The act was also amended in 2020 to allow for the commercial use and analysis of personal information. Public institutions (including public schools) are required to take technical information security measures to protect users in article 37 of the Act on the Promotion of Information Security Industry (amended in 2020).  

In 2006, the Education Cyber Security Center was established within KERIS to secure and protect cyberspace for educational institutions. KERIS is responsible for protecting personal information and strengthening data protections in educational facilities. Every school also has its own Chief Privacy Officer and guidelines for privacy protection. All teacher and student data are held in the National Education Information System (NEIS), which can only be accessed from authorized computers. 

2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying

The Act on the Prevention and Countermeasures Against Violence in Schools (amended in 2020) classifies cyberbullying as a form of school violence and defines it as, “any form of constant or repeated actions whereby students inflict emotional harm on other students by using the Internet, cell phones or other information and communications devices to reveal personal information about a specific student or to spread lies or rumours about a specific student, and then inflict pain thereon”. The Ministry of Education then announced an Executive Plan for School Violence Elimination which details the plan for preventing violence in schools, including online violence. The government recognized an increase in gambling and sexual abuse due to prolonged exposure online. They also have a cyber-violence prevention program (Cyber Eoulim) which also trains teachers on how to respond to and prevent cyberbullying.


3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

ICT Education is coordinated between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and ICT (formerly the two were combined as the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology ‘MEST’). These two departments are responsible for ICT in Education policy-making, establishing infrastructure, teacher training, and evaluation and monitoring. Policies regarding communication networks, the commercialization of e-Learning, and the private sector in e-Learning are handled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (formerly the Ministry of Knowledge Economy ‘MKE’). 

The Korean Education Research Information Service (KERIS) is a public institution under the Ministry of Education and was formally legally established through the Korea Education and Research Information Service Law. It is tasked with the implementation of ICT in Education national policies. The core mission is to “contribute to education development through the integration of ICT in education and research”. The main responsibilities include managing the operation of national online learning systems, teacher training, curriculum development, managing ICT in Education research, and managing online administration services.  

Policies and action plans are locally implemented by the sixteen Metropolitan and Provincial Offices of Education (MPOEs). 

3.2. Roles of schools

Currently, there are no state or local bans against the use of mobile phones or other devices in schools, though the Seoul Metropolitan Council and the Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education both proposed such ordinances in 2022. It is up to each school’s discretion as to whether carrying phones is banned or not.

Last modified:

Wed, 28/06/2023 - 15:56