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Reading: Teachers and learners in a time of big data


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Teachers and learners in a time of big data


Rachel Buchanan ,

The University of Newcastle, AU
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Amy McPherson

Australian Catholic University, AU
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Policy and technological transformation have coalesced to usher in massive changes to educational systems over the past two decades. Teachers’ roles, subjectivities and professional identities have been subject to sweeping changes enabled by sophisticated forms of governance. Simultaneously, students have been recast as ‘learners’; like teachers, learners have become subject to new forms of governance, through technological surveillance and datafication. This paper focuses on the intersection of the metrics driven approach to education and the political as a way to re-think the future of schooling in more explicitly philosophical terms. This exploration starts with a critical examination of constructions of teachers, learners and the digital data-driven educational culture in order to explicate the futures being generated. The trajectory of this future is explored through reference to the techno-educational models currently being developed in Silicon Valley. Drawing on Deleuze’s notion of control societies we contribute to the ongoing philosophical investigation of the datafication of education; a necessary discussion if we are to explore the future implications of schooling in a technologically saturated world. We present consideration of the past, present and future, as three ways of considering alternatives to a datafied education system. Alternative conceptualisations of the future of schooling are possible which offer ways of understanding and politicising what happens when we impose data-driven accountabilities into people’s lives.

How to Cite: Buchanan, R. and McPherson, A., 2019. Teachers and learners in a time of big data. Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 6(1), pp.26–43. DOI:
Published on 13 May 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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