This week I tracked the digital ‘traces’ I’m leaving while studying for this course. As surfaced in Williamson (2017), through the rise of big data, governments are increasingly monitoring the digital traces of their citizens resulting in new forms of ‘data-driven governance’ and ‘evidence-based policymaking’. Ozga (2016), however, describes the potential issues arising from using data instead of expert knowledge for governance. In her research on the role of digital data for school inspections, Ozga highlights the tensions between seemingly ‘objective’ and ‘transparent’ data processes, and knowledge creation through expert analysis. While my visualisation may not give away much in terms of my performance, collecting data at a large scale has become very valuable not only for institutions and edtech companies but also for governing purposes.
Evidence of how valuable educational data has become may be found in the increasing number of actors now involved in policy-making, for example ‘private sector and civil society organizations, including businesses, consultants, entrepreneurs, think tanks, policy innovation labs, charities and independent experts’ (Williamson, 2017). Data have enabled these actors to exert power over what information is being collected and how it is used while projecting particular values and ways of thinking (Anagnosopoulos et al., 2013). With some of these actors increasingly including global and commercial stakeholders, I wonder what impact their having on education in a local context. Is there a danger that we lose local, specialised knowledge in favour of global, standardised processes?
Anagnostopoulos, D. & Rutledge, S. & Jacobsen, R. (2013). The Infrastructure of Accountability: Data Use and the Transformation of American Education.
Ozga J. (2016). Trust in numbers? Digital Education Governance and the inspection process. European Educational Research Journal. 15(1):69-81. doi:10.1177/1474904115616629
Williamson, B. (2017). Big Data in Education: The digital future of learning, policy and practice. Sage.