GESF - How is child in school produced through data technologies?

8 June 2015, 1.30 PM - 8 June 2015, 3.00 PM

Lyndsay Grant

Room 4.01, GSoE 35 Berkeley Square

Globalisation, Education & Social Futures

Time: 1:30 - 3pm


Education is increasingly saturated with numerical data; data-based targets, interventions, judgements and evaluations are ubiquitous. This data deluge promises greater knowledge; the increasing volume, depth, scope, granularity of ‘big data’ are heralded as the key to answering many challenging problems in public and private life including education (Kitchin forthcoming, DiCerbo and Behrens 2014). But the knowledge that data provides is not just predictive but also shapes the future; it is not only representative but also constitutive of social life (Beer 2009). The kinds of data that are collected, how they are analysed, visualised and materialised in practice, have important social, material and political consequences (boyd and Crawford 2012). This paper reports on research that explores how what it is and what it means to be a child in school is constituted through a socio-material assemblage of data practices in a UK secondary school.

Drawing on a theoretical framework of ‘agential materialism’ (Barad 2007) my research examines how data works to produce particular meanings and materialisations of the child in school. Through ethnographic exploration of material and discursive data practices, I unpick how data works to produce particular ways of being a child-in-school by creating boundaries around what is and what is not included in this category. This project seeks to raise questions about the consequences for the kinds of childhood and the opportunities for agency that are made possible by these practices.  The practice of producing research knowledge also creates new boundaries around ways of knowing and being, raising new ethical questions.


Lyndsay is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education. Previously she worked on The Bristol Partnership for Learning with Digital Technologies and was a Senior Researcher at Futurelab, a research and development charity exploring the role of digital technologies and media in education and learning. She led research into the role of digital technologies in learning at home and school and was involved in the design and development of innovative digital technologies for learning. Before working in research, Lyndsay worked for Pearson Education, publishing books and digital resources for the primary literacy classroom, including award-winning interactive non-linear digital fiction texts.

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