Week 6: a week of platforms

After seeing The Platform Society chapter I decided to track what platforms I am using this week. I have only tracked when I was at my desk and only recorded the platforms I engaged with most. Nonetheless, my visualisation shows how often I rely on using various platforms on a daily basis.

Week 6 visualisation

Van Dijck et al. (2018) highlight the potential implications of platformisation on education. With increasingly powerful tech companies, there are fears that education will be more and more governed by big corporations, ‘propelled by algorithmic architectures and business models’.

Platformisation and increased use of technologies in education also raises issues of privacy and surveillance. Being constantly monitored can have an impact on both students and teachers. As surfaced in Brown (2020), dashboards, for example, may have an impact on instructors’ pedagogical strategies.

COVID-19 is likely to have exacerbated the issue of platformisation as the educational technology sector is one of the few industries to profit from the pandemic. Dominated by powerful technical platforms, public education could see long-term consequences as state governance becomes less significant (Williamson et al. 2020). Adopting technologies without challenging the motives of big corporations could see global commercial platforms being incorporated into public education which, in turn, may be a risk to education as a public good (ibid. 2020).

Technologies and practices that were introduced during the pandemic are often regarded as emergency or temporary measures, however, some researchers point out that ‘[a]s these tools become rooted in teaching practice, it will become difficult to go back’ (Teräs et al. 2020, p.870).

My visualisation only shows a fraction of what a machine could have recorded but it nonetheless gives an insight into how entwined various platforms and our daily lives are.


Brown, M. 2020. Seeing students at scale: how faculty in large lecture courses act upon learning analytics dashboard data. Teaching in Higher Education, 25(4), pp. 384-400.

Teräs, M., Suoranta, J., Teräs, H. & Curcher M. (2020). Post-Covid-19 Education and Education Technology ‘Solutionism’: a Seller’s Market. Postdigital Science and Education, 2,863–878.

van Dijck, J., Poell, T., & de Waal, M. (2018). Chapter 6: Education, In The Platform Society, Oxford University Press.

Williamson, B. Eynon, R. & Potter, J. (2020). Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency. Learning, Media and Technology, 45:2, 107-114.

3 thoughts on “Week 6: a week of platforms

  1. Hi Susanne,
    My first experimental plot in Week 2 was based on ‘where’ I was working (and since that is always at my desk, which platform I was using); I felt I was constantly jumping from one place to the next.
    I guess a lot of us made a rapid and somewhat unprepared transition to working from home, the choice of platforms and how we use them might not have been completely thought through, as we just had to keep going until the end of the semester. Now we probably all know that we are likely to be online for a lot longer, I wonder if we will be looking back at our decisions?

  2. Great to see you engaging with issues around the increasing penetration of platforms in education. Would you agree with Jose van Dijck and colleagues that privately owned and run platforms pose a problem for public education? This is really a question about competing values, as they see it, and the erosion of public values by private values that treat education as a service that can be optimized for specific outcomes. What do you see as the essential role of data in these platforms as they enter into teaching and learning processes? Do the big platform operators now see something valuable in educational data? This may be a tricky question to answer because these commercial entities are very often not transparent about their collection and use of education data, except occasionally issuing vague reassurances about not selling it for advertising.

    • I do think it is a problem for education. Data, and that includes educational data, is very valuable for platform operators. I suspect profit and not student success and wellbeing is their main interest. I was also wondering what happens to students who don’t want to consent for their data being collected. I assume it would be very difficult to opt out once their institution has adopted the use of certain platforms.

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