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School data markets under formation: How platform infrastructure policies regulate public education and teachers’ work

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Annika Bergviken Rensfeldt
Catarina Player-Koro
Publicerad i Paper for Network 21. Politics of Education and Education Policy Studies at the NERA 2020 congress in Turku, Finland on 4-6 March 2020
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik, kommunikation och lärande
Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Ämnesord school digitization markets; school infrastructure; education policy; marketization; platform capitalism
Ämneskategorier Mänsklig interaktion med IKT, Pedagogik


Digital platform technologies such as learning management systems and social media are nowadays an integrated part of schools and teachers’ everyday work. This suggest that the digital work and daily data-generating digital activities of teachers (and students) not only shift their forms of work, but also make public education connected to the private sector and globally operating technological platform providers in new ways. Commonly, these technology enterprises can provide with what looks as a full infrastructure of low-cost hardware and “free”, openly accessible software to an underfunded public sector education, however, it comes with a price, of teachers’ work time and work tools adapted for business rather than schools, etc. This paper aims to investigate the policies of emerging school platform infrastructure and how they regulate public education and teachers’ work. School platform digitization is a part of a wider societal transformation where the generation and processing of ‘big data’ through digital platform technology have been reflected in debates over internet data privacy, monitoring performance, that also relate to larger policy reforms of marketization and new private-public sector collaborations. With digital platforms integrated into public education, the politics of “platform capitalism” also has been introduced, and where the main market principle is to profit on the data generated by mass user activity and to profile and predict user behavior across different digital platforms. We suggest “school data markets” as a way of conceptualizing these policy phenomena. The overall question is, what work digital platform technologies are suggested to do in schools and how platforms are regulating teachers’ digital work. Discussions we wish to raise is whether global commercial platforms incorporated in public education risk challenging education as a public good by introducing new market logics which also make teachers’ work shaped by commercial reuse and vulnerable exposure. Teachers’ opportunity to exert influence and control over forms of digital platform work and purchase is also raised, including constraints and opportunities of ‘datafication’ where teachers’ and schools’ digital activities is broken down in data pieces for reuse and inspection. This paper will present findings from an ongoing trace and policy ethnographic project funded by Forte in Sweden on teachers’ digital work. Findings from a pilot study where two upper secondary school teachers have been ‘shadowed’ by participants observations at work constitute the main part. The focus has been to explore teachers’ digital work, in particular how digital platform structures regulate and constrain their work and what strategies teachers use to cope with this in their work. In addition, their schools’ local infrastructure, including dominant school platforms, will be mapped and analyzed, followed up by a 'data infrastructure audit’, i.e. policies from regional municipality organizations and their extension to national, Nordic and international levels (e.g. public procurement recommendations and guidelines, legal contracts and agreements). The aim of this pilot study is to further develop our methodological toolbox and understanding in relation to our bigger project and to gain insight on the current digital platform work of school teachers as well as emerging school data issues.

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