Digital Platforms and the Remaking of Spacetimes in Education Policy, Governance and Practice
The emphasis of this international working group is on better understanding the surging spatiotemporal power of digital platforms in education, including learning software, monitoring infrastructures, or digital community building environments such as hackathons. It hereby responds to the growing need in digital education policy, governance and practice scholarship to rethink and transcend ‘static’ (e.g., topographically bordered) representations of space or ‚linear‘ (e.g., chronological) understandings of time. Presenting different findings from international collaborations between German, Belgian, Finnish and Australian scholars, this working group not only discusses what platforms in education are and how they can be analyzed in their remaking of spacetimes in education (e.g. nation states, classical learning environments, policy arenas, etc.), but equally what effects this remaking produces (e.g., transforming notions of ‚good‘ education, of educational professionality, etc.).
Beiträge des Panels
Navigating European (Plat)Forms For Learning Online: Are They Opening Up?
European education policies have increasingly focused on the uptake of online platforms, such as platforms for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or Online Educational Resources (OER), often situating it within a discourse of ‘opening up’ education (European Commission, 2018). That is, such policies draw on a wider Open Education (OE) movement that positions ‘openness’ as a virtue of unlimited accessibility to, democratic development of, and collaborative engagement in, educational content (Weller, 2014). The enactment of this kind of openness through MOOCs and OER platforms has been contested, as some refer to them as the engines of accessibility while others emphasize the various kinds of closures they install. This contribution gives an overview of multiple case studies on online platforms that are financed through European education policies. By deploying a method of ‘active navigations’, these studies all focused on the enactment of new forms of space-time through these platforms. The studies thereby mainly focused on whether and how these (plat)forms generated ‘open’ and ‘European’ spaces-times, leading to an argument that these forms are necessarily bordered and closed, but in multifarious ways. Furthermore, the studies presents the ‘agile’ and ‘interactive’ operations of these platforms and stresses how the constant combination of stability-change ‘opens’ up various new ways for navigating and making educational spaces-times.
Where Are We Heading? New Spatiotemporal Forms Of Digital Educational Policymaking: The Case Of A German Hackathon
In the course of the worldwide pandemic, a new digital platform-based form of policymaking as well as a platform based way of organizing (EdTech) movements arose in Germany: Hackathons. Hereby a nation-wide educational Hackathon, claiming to “shape schooling of tomorrow together” (https://wirfuerschule.de/), took place in June 2020. This contribution wants to empirically investigate how the Hackathon, hosted on different platforms, actually creates specific new sort(s) of digital education space(s), and even more, how it (re)configures times – in our case specific sorts of futures.
Drawing on newer lines of critical platform studies, understanding digital platforms as powerful socio-technical assemblages, this contribution adopts a topological perspective (Lury, 2012) that allows to analyze digital education platforms in terms of which relations they (do not) enable, which sort(s) of circulation they offer, enact or prioritize and especially: which sorts of futures and imaginaries they design and anticipate (Lury, 2021; Jasanoff, 2015).
The research interest is therefore threefold: (1) to stress the role of platforms in contemporary educational policymaking, (2) by focusing on how imaginaries of schooling as performed in the Hackathon and changing forms of education policymaking co-constitute each other and (3) to investigate, how such new forms can be approached theoretically and methodologically.
Towards A Topological Genealogy For Platform Research In Education
This paper presents topological genealogy as a methodology to research transnational digital governance, and particularly how digital platform infrastructures are implicated in enacting such forms of governance. Inspired by the field of social topology, topological genealogy is centrally interested in investigating the conjoined production of digital infrastructures and present-day education policymaking as governance; as well as how both produce, and are produced by, processes of flows, flux and change. Notably, the methodology helps to disentangle digital governance in, through and as change, and in doing enables to empirically investigate the shifting spacetimes of education as enacted in/on present-day digital platform infrastructures.
Through a worked example of the European Commission’s eTwinning platform, the presentation shows the methodology of topological genealogy in action, and complements the topological analysis with methodological foregroundings. These show how the methodology impacts as much the fabrication of research data and its subsequent analysis as it impacts the doings of the researcher.
„Lifelong Platform“ – Insights Into The Digital (Education) State of Estonia
As part of its emancipation process from the UdSSR, Estonia initiated an exceptional ‚rebranding‘ strategy, which not only included a deliberate ‘re-positioning’ with Europe, but equally the invention of ‚E-Estonia‘ (Savchenko 2019). Approaching open data and ‘digital citizenship’ as key to modern democracy shifted Estonia´s imagination of the state into what Budnitskiy (2018) described as ‚digital nationalism‘. As a result, Estonia established an extensive platform architecture – a digital governmental ecosystem – in which citizens i.a. traverse education (from kindergarten to lifelong learning) through the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS). It is this ‚seamlees‘ platformization of education which equally turned Estonia into a global role model for reform.
Being situated within a larger qualitative study on Education as a platform state, the aim of this contribution is twofold: First, we provide an introduction to the E-Estonia/EHIS platform architecture and its operations. Second and building on this overview, we use the Estonian case to discuss the transformative spatiotemporal power of platforms, which is how E-Estonia/EHIS have reshaped, but equally have been shaped by the ‘spacetimes’ of the ‘(national) Estonian education system’. We thus seek to better understand how we can (further) make sense of the notion of ‚bordering‘ and the role of ‚the state‘ in providing public education in times of rising platformization.