block 3: ‘Governing’ with data

In this final block, we turn to the theme of ‘governance’, by which we mean, in a broad sense, the practices and institutions through which education is organised, managed, and regulated, and the ways in which this domain is being shaped by data-driven practices.

A key focus is on the increasing use of data, software platforms, and digital infrastructure on (national, supranational, and regional) policy development, and thus how institutions and educational practices are shaped by the growing datafication of educational governance. Important questions here are around the extent to which data-driven policy is intensifying a drive towards performativity in the sector, and the attempt to develop detailed information on the productivity of institutions and their practices. The governance theme might also be related directly to institutional concerns, as schools, colleagues and universities look to define particular strategies with respect to data-driven technologies, coordinate various departments and procedures, as well as adhere to wider sector policy directives, and internal demands from staff and students. Key questions here concern how institutions should develop internal policy around the use of data, what kind of stakeholders might be involved, and how to approach potentially conflicting demands for innovation and privacy. We might also view the theme of ‘governance’ in broader terms, as a more historical and structural means through which populations are seen, defined, categorised, and managed. Beyond specific policy development, we can focus here on the role of educational institutions in this wider political and social governance, and examine the ways data-driven practices across the sector contribute to the subjectification and disciplining of individuals.

Thinking through these notions of ‘governance’ (as well as others we might surface through discussion), this block will encourage you to develop a critical understanding of data as it relates to educational policy and management. You will approach this by reading a set of core and secondary literature that will elaborate on key aspects of this theme, and develop your understanding through: group discussion in our final ‘tweetorial‘ (in week 9); trying out the ‘visualise some public data’ task (in week 10); and summarising this section of the course in your end of-block reflections (in week 11).