Parallel session 4 (25th May) Digital Education Governance Beyond International Comparative Assessment
From Claire Sowton
Chair: Kevin Witzenberger
Totalisation of Finnish Higher Education and Society, and Connecting them to Global Data Governance: One National Digital Service Platform to Rule them All
(Marko Teräs, Tampere University)
Various international actors such as the OECD and Microsoft impact global digitalization and datafication discourse and thus national decision making. The core governing rule of this discourse is, “digitalization and datafication have potential”. This presentation explores how international education, technological and business discourse flows into national education visions and practices, and how it mutates in local discursive practices. To illustrate this, it uses various empirical data such as international and national policy documents and reports, learning analytics needs analysis conducted with several Finnish higher education institutions (HEIs), and the Digivision 2030 initiative documentation. Digivision 2030 is a national-level initiative funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The aim is to transform Finnish HEIs into data driven communities and to open national data reserves for the use of individuals, society and national and international actors, including companies. The main purpose of Digivision 2030 is to create a national datafied digital service platform which would host individuals’ learning data for life. As such, Digivision 2030 could be seen as a concrete national-level culmination of the dominant global discourse of digital education governance. The presentation argues that much of the dominant discourse is based on a myth of certainty and controllability of life. Therefore it also asks, can we still speculate alternatives futures of digitalization beyond the dominant discourse of total data governance and if so, how?
Emma Day, Kruakae Pothong, Ayça Atabey and Sonia Livingstone (LSE)
A socio-legal analysis of the UK governance regime for data collected from children at school for purposes of teaching and learning contrasts the government-mandated data collection by schools to inform educational policy and planning with that collected, processed and shared with third parties by commercial EdTech providers. The former includes personal information (name, date of birth, gender, ethnicity, disability, attendance, grades, etc.) of which parents and children are most likely aware. We find this is effectively governed by the government’s ‘Five Safes Framework’ for publicly held data, although with potentially problematic exceptions; generally, only deidentified (‘safe’) data are shared with what are (accountably) ‘safe people’ in ‘safe settings’ for ‘safe projects’ with ‘safe outputs.’ By contrast, EdTech companies process many kinds of personal (identified) data under the looser enforcement regime of the Data Protection Act and UK GDPR. This includes data passively taken from or inferred about children at multiple points throughout the school day, including metadata and data generated through profiling and learning analytics. It is likely that parents and children are less aware of such data processing or how to exercise their data subject rights. While schools have few mechanisms and insufficient expertise or resources to hold powerful EdTech providers accountable for processing children’s data, EdTech providers have considerable latitude to interpret the law, processing data as they choose and accessing children in real-time learning to develop their products. Meanwhile, public and civil society bodies are inhibited from developing innovative data-driven projects in children’s or the public interest.
(Hanna Toivonen, Tampere University)
A growing body of research identifies the influence of ‘digital’ methods in the ways education and teachers are governed. This study approaches the new ways of governing with the help of the concept of data infrastructures. Especially, the study scrutinizes the role of ‘desire’ in data infrastructures by utilizing Gill Deleuze’ and Félix Guattari’s theoretical framework of assemblage (French agencement). I will focus on the specific case from Finnish early childhood education. The aim of the study is to examine how data infrastructures work, flux and do in preschool context. In this specific case, data infrastructure is assembling around digital mobile application, which is used for generating, storing, and analyzing the number of children and qualified staff in preschools. I have utilized autoethnographic diary for generating the research data to investigate the flow of desires in data infrastructures. Earlier research has focused on describing assemblages as sum of their parts. This research adds on that by conceptualizing assemblages as machines which get their driving force from desire. This way of scrutiny makes it possible to see how assemblage work and why. The results imply that situational assemblages generate cross-draught between preschool staff, preschool director, and municipality officials by embodying various aims for governance.