The 2013 National Curriculum Guide for Compulsory Schools defines digital literacy as the knowledge that people have to acquire to be able to use computer and web technology for various forms of communication and the creation of material. It states that “Information and communication technology - ICT” includes “media studies, library studies, computer use”.
The 2008 Compulsory School Act No.91 refers to ICT.
The official COVID-19 Information Webpage refers to distance learning.
Constitution and laws: Article 76 of the 1944 Constitution (amended 2013) states that “the law shall guarantee for everyone suitable general education and tuition.” The constitution does not refer to education technology.
The 2008 Compulsory School Act No.91 states that the variety of ways to acquire knowledge including the use of information and communication technology (Article 24). Technology is included in the learning objectives (Article 25). According to the 2008 Upper-Secondary Education Act No.92, everyone is entitled to upper-secondary education, but the act does not refer to technology.
The country adopted the 2022 Science and Innovation Council Law No.137 to “strengthen strategic planning and coordination in the field of science, technological development and innovation.” No further information on an ICT law has been found.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2030 Education Policy (EP2030) is a 10-year education strategy for Iceland that aims to create a flexible education system to drive economic and social change. Its vision is to provide high-quality education throughout life, supported by values such as resilience, courage, knowledge, and happiness. The strategy is built on five pillars, including equity, teaching, skills for the future, well-being, and education system quality. Focus areas of these targets include “Educational offerings outside main urban centres to be delivered through improvements in transport and technology” and “Digital citizenship: Offer training to improve digital literacy to better navigate online environments, improve familiarity with aspects of technology, and practically apply technology”.
The 2021 Digital Strategy aims to promote digital development by focusing on four main areas: increased competitiveness, better public services, digital infrastructure, and improved digital working environments. The strategy does not refer explicitly to education.
Digital competency frameworks: No information on a digital competency framework has been found.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The official COVID-19 Information Webpage of the Medical Directorate of Public Health and Public Protection mentions that by March 15, 2020, Iceland implemented various restrictions and guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19, including restrictions on gatherings and school operations. According to the 2020 OECD Iceland Country Note, “Schools were forced to replace this time in class with online learning and homeschooling, in most cases facilitated by teachers and parents”. These restrictions were eased gradually over time, with the maximum number of people allowed at gatherings increasing and schools reopening. In 2021, new rules were implemented for schools, including on-site studies for upper secondary schools. Overall, schools had to navigate a constantly evolving situation to ensure the safety and education of their students.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The Electricity Act, No. 65/2003, based on EU Directive No. 96/92 and Directive 2003/54/EC, set forth common rules for the internal market in electricity. The act intended to create a competitive environment; foster efficiency and cost-effective transmission and distribution; ensure the security of the electricity system; and promote the utilization of renewable energy sources. Article 23 of the act states that “A distribution system operator shall, inter alia; Connect all parties that so request to the distribution system: and ensure reliability in the operation of the system. 85% of the total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources. The National Energy Authority, under the Electricity Act, No. 65/2003Electricity Act, No. 65/2003, is obligated to supervise certain general aspects of consumer protection, regarding the profitability of the electricity system and general tariffs.
Computers and devices: The 2016 Iceland Country Report of the European Literacy Policy Network states that almost every student has their laptop in upper secondary schools. However, the extent to which these devices are used in the classroom varies greatly based on the individual teacher and the overall school community. While some schools have begun incorporating tablets into their teaching methods, it is unclear what specific pedagogical approaches are being used. Some local authorities have taken steps to provide tablets to students in primary and lower secondary schools, as well as offering courses and advisers to teachers on how to effectively use these devices in their teaching.
Internet connectivity: Iceland boasts near-ubiquitous access. Parliamentary resolution No. 31/149 establishes the country’s five-year telecommunications plan for the years 2019–2023 with a main goal of accessible and easy electronic communication. The resolution plans for a continuation of Iceland’s 2018 Connected to Light initiative, which aims to connect all of Iceland to fibre optic systems, with special emphasis on rural locations. The government aims to connect 99.9% of homes and businesses in the country to 100mbps wireless connections. The plan is grant-based, as a set amount of funding is available for different regions. Schools are not mentioned.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The official COVID-19 Information Webpage outlines the main responses in the education sector as schools had to quickly adapt to ensure the safety of their students and staff. Regulations were put in place, including limiting the number of children in each room, enforcing mask-wearing, and setting proximity limits. During the first wave of the pandemic, preschool and primary school children were taught in groups of 20 or fewer, alternating between attending school every other day and distance learning. Schools adapted by using compartments, limiting communication during playtime, and restricting parent access to school premises. They also implemented sometimes-closed canteens and required older children and staff to wear masks. These same regulations applied to sports and leisure activities for children as well.
According to the 2013 National Curriculum Guide for Compulsory Schools, pupils that are considered unable to attend school due to an accident or a long-term illness, have the right to special teaching either in their home or at a medical institution. Schools are recommended to utilise information technology and distance learning for these pupils so that they can continue their studies as best they can.
Referring to digital literacy, the 2013 National Curriculum Guide for Compulsory Schools demonstrates the inclusion of ICT as one of the main subjects in the Icelandic curriculum “the main objective of education in information and communication technology is to encourage the information and media literacy of pupils and to assist them in obtaining sound general technology skill and literacy”.
The 2012 National Curriculum Guide for Upper-Secondary Schools states that “varied technology in their search for knowledge” and the ability to “use information technology in searching for and communicating knowledge in a critical and creative manner” as key core competencies.
The Nordic Council of Ministers published 2016 a Handbook on how to make Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more appealing to girls and young women. This handbook presents good examples of how players in the educational sector, including politicians, student counsellors and educational institutions, can work to break down the gender-segregated choice of study programme. The purpose of this handbook is to provide a tool which can help identify specific problem areas and implement solutions to resolve them.
Menntaiðja (Education Center) is an educational center that serves as a community for learning in the broadest sense. The educational center is a platform for collaboration on development work and innovation. The Education Center emerged in 2012 as a collaboration platform for institutions and groups within the wider school community. The educational center serves as a framework for communities of practice where progressive grassroots initiatives flourishes.
According to a 2020 OECD report, about half of the teachers in Iceland reported that the use of ICT for teaching was included in their formal education or training. About two-thirds reported that ICT skills for teaching were included in their professional development activities
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2016 General Data Protection Regulation No.679 is applicable in the European Economic Area (EEA) through the 2018 EEA Joint Committee Decision No. 154 and has been integrated into Icelandic law through the 2018 Privacy and Processing of Personal Data Act No.90. Though no information has been found targeting data privacy in the context of school and education.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2008 Compulsory School Act No 91 lays out provision to “maintain a coherent policy on ways to prevent cases of physical, verbal and social aggression within the school. Schools must likewise maintain a plan on the implementation of the statutory reporting requirement of the Child Protection Act, as well as on the response to cases involving bullying, other types of aggression, or social exclusion. Part of the implementation of the plan must be for each school to establish school rules. School rules should cover aspects such as general conduct, social interactions, punctuality, diligence in study, and the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. The rules should also specify how the school intends to respond to cases of violation of the rules.”
The 2008 Upper-Secondary Education Act No.92 lays out provisions “to prevent physical, verbal and social aggression” in schools. It states that “Schools shall furthermore maintain a plan on the implementation of the mandatory reporting duty under the Child Protection Act, as well as on the response to cases involving bullying, other types of aggression or social exclusion”.
Iceland’s cabinet has put forth a policy, prevention and response plan regarding EKKO (bullying, gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, violence), however, schools and children are not explicitly mentioned.
The Ministry of Education and Children is responsible for the implementation of legislation pertaining to school levels from pre-primary and compulsory education through the upper secondary levels, as well as continuing and adult education. This includes the tasks of creating curriculum guides for pre-primary, compulsory and upper secondary schools, issuing regulations and planning educational reforms. Local Municipal Authorities are responsible for preschools and primary schools. The Ministry is responsible for youth affairs outside formal education at governmental level.
Schools are autonomous in their decisions to implement a mobile phone ban or not. According to the regulation from 2011 No.1040, every compulsory school must set their school rules. The school principal is responsible for establishing school rules and overseeing their implementation. The rules must be drawn up in cooperation with the school council. Efforts should be made to reach the widest possible agreement on them in the school. They can for example include general rules about devices and other valuables and the use of electronic devices owned by the school and devices that students bring to school, video and audio recordings during school hours and their publication.
This profile has been reviewed by Guðni Olgeirsson, Senior Adviser at the Iceland Ministry of Education and Children, and Óskar Haukur Níelsson, Senior Adviser at the Iceland Ministry of Education and Children.