End-of-Block #2

Digital technologies and data systems are shaping the educational systems and everyday life of students and teachers. The extent and presence of these systems in schools and higher education spaces is growing every day, often without being noticed by educators until it is already embedded into the educational practice. The quick adoption of new technologies in the classroom, often with very little consideration of the ‘data subjects’, lead to a ‘pedagogical reductionism’ that values ‘datafied learning’ over any other types of ‘learning’. (Williamson, Bayne and Shay, 2020)

This block we explored how data-driven technologies can enhance and modify educational practices; how the data interpretation and analysis skills of individual teachers when presented with data (data literacies) can drive the pedagogical approaches in different directions. In the core readings, we explored the ‘impact of data on pedagogy’, and how there is a risk of reshaping pedagogy to make it fit the digital platforms, and not make the tools fit the pedagogy. (Williamson, Bayne and Shay, 2020)

Through the use of wearable devices, intelligent homes and campuses, machine learning and A.I., and through the ever-increasing availability and presence of digital technology in schools and universities, data system and data analytics are creating a ‘fundamental shift in the relationship between society and its knowledge platforms’. (Raffaghelli and Stewart, 2020)

The data visualisations I created this block involved the themes of digital life, screen time, and communication in digital environments. Through these visualisations I continued to explore the process of data creation, selection and analysis, and how the way data is collected, and what data gets collected, affect the way the data is interpreted and interacted with. Additionally, while creating a simple teacher dashboard and exploring existing dashboards, I was able to understand more clearly how the internal process of data creation and collection shape my ‘view’ of the data and the data subjects it represents. Although dashboards do not necessarily hide students from teacher, they do highlight a particular aspect of the student’s activity and learning. (Williamson, Bayne and Shay, 2020)

The way data is manipulated, analysed and used by educators depends on their ‘data literacy’ level. Raffaghelli and Stewart (2020) highlight the different forms of ‘resistance’ through data activism, as well as the ‘set of emerging practices which interrogate datafication and its socio-political consequences’. Data literacy, according to Raffaghelli and Stewart (2020), requires the balance of ‘societal goals, institutional goals, and individual, contextual practices’ in order to be successful. 

Williamson, Bayne and Shay (2019), on the other hand, emphasise the need for a ‘critical data literacy’ among university leaders to counterbalance the ‘marketization’ of higher education practices. 

students and educators see data through dashboards; how dashboards don’t necessarily reduce the visibility of students but highlight particular parts of the student’s activity and learning. (Williamson, Bayne and Shay, 2020)

Overall, ‘data’ and ‘teaching with data’ should be understood from a critical perspective that questions the role, use and implication of the use of data in education. The reinforcement of ‘historical inequalities’ through data, as well as the surveillance and data protection concerns raised by different authors, should be issues that continue to be debated by teacher and educational leaders, hopefully, also including students in the debate and decision making. 

Word count: 535


Bayne, S., Connelly, L., Grover, C., Osborne, N., Tobin, R., Beswick, E. and Rouhani, L. (2019) ‘The social value of anonymity on campus: a study of the decline of Yik Yak’, Learning, Media and Technology, 44(2), pp. 92-107.

Raffaghelli, J. E. and Stewart, B. (2020) ‘Centering complexity in ‘educators’ data literacy’ to support future practices in faculty development: a systematic review of the literature’, Teaching in higher education, 25(4), pp. 435-455.

Williamson, B., Bayne, S. and Shay, S. (2020) ‘The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives’, Teaching in higher education, 25(4), pp. 351-365.

One Reply to “End-of-Block #2”

  1. You’ve made some very thoughtful and engaged comments in this ummary post, which demonstrates your close attention to the course texts and good reflections on the data visualization tasks. My attention was drawn to your comment about dashboards affecting your “view” as an educator, and this is a great point to consider further. Data have become key sources with which to see, know and understand the world, but as you’ve rightly highlighted, they can be highly partial and potentially misleading too. They produce a certain *sort* of view and a way of seeing which could be very different if filtered through other lenses. These reflections of yours will be worth revisiting as we move on to the section of the course on “governing with data”, where we address issues of how education is seen, known and understood by policy authorities, and with what consequences.

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