Datafication and school

What does datafication mean in an educational context

Datafication especially in the school context means that data is collected about all processes within the school system: From school evaluations, development and performance data for controlling school administration, to data that is collected and reused in the classroom via learning software.

The idea of datafication in the educational context isn´t a recent one . As early as 1976 Michel Foucault described schools and their classrooms as learning machines in which children were classified, monitored and disciplined in terms of their knowledge, progress and personal data.

A critical perspective on datafication

We all produce data and data tracks on a daily basis, which are being recorded and used. By knowing more about what people do, how they behave, how they respond to events or policies, it becomes possible to predict options for action and then intervene in people’s behaviour. The importance of data for control and development processes is increasing, giving special influence to those who have the competence to collect, evaluate and interpret data (cf. Davies, 2016).

In relation to the educational context, some of the influence can thus be traced to actors and organisations that produce and process digital learning data and translate it into usable intelligence and adaptive, personalised recipes for educational interventions (see Williamson 2015, Grek 2009, Bellmann 2015, Ozga et al. 2011, Breiter & Jarke 2016, Hartong 2016, Macgilchrist 2017, Gapski 2015, Eder et al. 2017).

Considering this background, the DATAFIED joint project poses the question of the formative role of data for schools as an institution. The aim is to formulate implications of action for future decisions regarding the layout of datafication in the education system.