The data collected from digital platforms, social media, smart devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are very much rational proxies with proven predictive power when aggregated at scale. The real question is whether the knowledge extracted from these technological systems is a sound – indeed reasonable – representation of our lived experience, upon which we can build governance structures and autonomous “generative” agents that have real and life-changing impacts. 


Random thoughts & notes

The future of data for education, or any future in fact, is not simply happening but instead something that is made. And, it's made through expectations, imaginaries, visions, and hopes that arise through discussion.    

Future research          

  • Possibilities for opening up uncertainty and agency within data practices - engaging with the contradictions and multiplicities inherent in data practices    
  • Following the data assemblage further - families/homes, neighborhoods/regions, dispersed media landscapes, international policy-making, media discourses      
  • Role of emerging layers of data intermediaries and entrepreneurs - "data tamers"     

Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data (Zuboff). 

Data as currency: It is still very early days in this data-as-currency world, but it is an absolutely one-sided trade. The buyers at this point are amassing, assessing, consolidating data, and then using it.   

On “data exhaust”: You know that you’re throwing off data everywhere you go. But do you know what’s happening to it? Do you know how it’s being monetized? Whom it’s being sold to? Did you know that there is a social map of you and your family and your friends and the places you go? I heard of an amazing story of a certain social platform that could tell just from phone locations whether people were having an affair — because their phones were technically too close to each other! So a lot of data is being thrown off and if people truly knew (a) the value of it, and (b) the implications, they’d maybe be a little more careful (Barratt).    

Personal data is generated through people’s use of digital platforms and devices, yet this very interpersonal and relational dimension to data does not appear in popular metaphors. What are the consequences of this?

  • Barratt, J. (2019). Data as currency: What value are you getting? Knowledge@Wharton. Retrieved from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/barrett-data-as-currency/     
  • Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. New York: Public Affairs.   


Data mining. Data harvesting. Data profiling. 

This, coupled with student privacy in a digital world, is the focus of my research. 

If you would like to read more about the ways social media impacts education, start here. If you are using Google Suite for Education, check out this research article [PDF] from 2016.

I am not opposed to digital learning, but I am concerned about the data that is collected. Who controls that data? Who makes decisions based on that data? And where is the line between enhancing collaboration (enhancing the user experience) and improving student learning? What is the real cost of all the data we surrender in the name of instructional technology?

The answers to these questions are not limited to one company. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and a host of other companies are all competing for a share of the education market. Corporate strategy in the education sector is nothing new (see below), but the speed and scale of the market has shifted...and the outcomes of these strategies run far deeper.

*image:18pt Century Schoolbook typeface | mirror image for legibility

Another immensely popular face for A.T.F. [American Type Founders] and [Morris Fuller] Benton, Century Schoolbook was either licensed or copied by all the makers of mechanical composition machines, including Linotype, Intertype, Monotype, and Ludlow. Linotype also commissioned Rudolph Ruzicka to design Primer, which was intended to compete directly with Century Schoolbook for the textbook market. -Wikipedia