LM&T Special Issue "The Datafication of Education"

Special Issue of the journal "Learning, Media and Technology"

Call for Papers

Proposals are invited for papers for a special issue of the journal on the theme of The Datafication of Education. The special issue will be edited by Andreas Breiter (University of Bremen, Germany) and Juliane Jarke (University of Bremen, Germany)

The relevance of data for educational processes in schools such as teaching and learning as well as for educational administration and educational policy has increased throughout the last decade. This has an impact on how education is measured, managed and controlled. ‘Governing by numbers’ (Grek 2009) has become a new paradigm. National and international student assessments, standardised achievement tests, school inspections and rankings are part of new forms of educational governance covering all three levels (Altrichter 2010). On the macro level, public pressure on changing education policy are often shaped by international non-governmental organizations like the OECD and are based on data. This can be observed since the publication of PISA results in the 1990s. Martens and others explained different reactions of nation states to these pressures (Martens/Jacobi 2010) – from adoption of achievement tests in national education policies, to ignoring it. This is part of a larger movement of standardization in education, output measurement and accountability (Jacobsen/Young 2013). While the political perspective has been studied intensively, the underlying data practices of key stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administrators) are under-researched (Breiter 2016). This relates to the meso level of school administrations by introducing methods of new public management for budget control, benchmarks and goals to measure effectiveness. The role of districts and educational authorities in handling data and using data for accountability (Anagnostopolous 2013) varies significantly between countries. This makes an international perspective necessary. On the micro level of the school, different forms of data use have been identified on both the managerial level of principals to teachers on the classroom level (Schildkamp/Poortman 2015). Learning analytics (Papamitsiou/Economides 2014, Perrotta/Williamson 2016) are promoted as a powerful tool for better learning and student support. The underlying algorithms and the ways in which data are produced by data providers, statisticians as well as the role of software companies and educational providers are hardly understood (Eynon 2013, Williamson 2014).

In this special issue, we would like to address different perspectives and empirical evidence across different countries and data practices. Papers might explore issues around the following questions but may also go beyond:

  • What role do (big) data, associated algorithms and/or school management information systems play for school governance, school organisation and/or decision making?
  • What role do digital assessment practices and associated software systems play for the organisation of schools?
  • How do the roles of education providers and software companies change due to the increasing importance of data (e.g. for decision making)?
  • How do educational rankings (e.g. between and within countries, school districts, pupils, teachers) impact on and (re)configure educational governance, educational management, teaching and/or learning?
  • How are different educational actors (e.g. administrators, policy makers, teachers, pupils, parents) responding to the datafication of education? What data practices are emerging and how may these data practices impact on the ways in which educational systems and/or schools are governed? How are these actors constituted by and framed through these data-related practices?

Submission Instructions

We are currently soliciting abstracts for proposed papers for the special issue. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and be accompanied by up to six keywords.

  • Deadline for submission of abstract: 1st October 2017
  • Successful authors informed: 1st November 2017
  • Deadline for submission of full papers: 1st April 2018

Full papers are expected to be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (please refer to the journal website for full ‘instructions for authors'). All papers will be subject to the usual blind reviewing and refereeing processes.

Please send abstracts and keywords to the guest editors by  1st of October 2017:

Email: abreiter[at]uni-bremen.de & jarke[at]uni-bremen.de

Please put ‘abstract Learning, Media and Technology’ in the subject.

Altrichter, H. (2010): Theory and Evidence on Governance: conceptual and empirical strategies of research on governance in education. European Educational Research Journal 9 (2), 147-158.

Anagnostopoulos, D.; Rutledge, S. A.; Jacobsen, R. (eds.). (2013): The infrastructure of accountability: Data use and the transformation of American education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Breiter, Andreas (2016): Datafication in education: a multi-level challenge for IT in educational management. in: Torsten Brinda, Don Passey, (eds.), Stakeholders and Information Technology in Education. Berlin: Springer

Eynon, R. (2013). The rise of Big Data: what does it mean for education, technology, and media research? Learning, Media & Technology, 38(3), 237-240.

Grek, S. (2009): Governing by Numbers: The PISA ‘Effect’ in Europe. Journal of Education Policy 24 (1), 23-37.

Jacobsen, R.; Young, T. V. (2013): The New Politics of Accountability: Research in Retrospect and Prospect. Educational Policy 27 (2), 155-169.

Martens, K.; Jakobi, A. P. (2010): Mechanisms of OECD Governance - International Incentives for National Policy Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Papamitsiou, Z.; Economides, A. A. (2014): Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining in Practice: A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Evidence. Educational Technology & Society 17 (4), 49-64.

Perrotta, C.; Williamson, B. (2016): The social life of Learning Analytics: cluster analysis and the ‘performance’ of algorithmic education. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-14.

Schildkamp, K., & Poortman, C. L. (2015). Factors influencing the functioning of data teams. Teachers College Record, 117(5).

Williamson, B. (2014): Governing software: networks, databases and algorithmic power in the digital governance of public education. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-23.