Anticipating educational futures through data – targets, predictions and probabilities
Dr Lyndsay Grant, University of Bristol
31st March 2021, 12-1pm
This talk focuses on how educational futures were anticipated and performed through data practices of monitoring, aggregating, processing, and visualising pupil performance. This talk draws on a sociomaterial ethnography within a secondary school, showing how educational data practices worked to predict, anticipate and intervene in pupils’ futures, thereby foreclosing opportunities for more open-ended and critical orientations toward their futures. The complex anticipatory data practices at work in the school produced multiple, overlapping, and at times conflicting, educational futures – targets, predictions and probabilities. Through these practices, optimising pupils’ data futures became what mattered most to the school, while teachers were tasked with the impossibility of trying to resolve incompatible data futures. While data practices in the school in some ways appeared to govern nearly every aspect of pupils’ educational futures, this talk will also attend to some of the moments of ambivalence and uncertainty that emerged within these data futures. Such moments, in which futures are neither completely captured by nor escaping from data, may point towards emergent possibilities for more divergent and open-ended futures within educational data practices.
Dr Lyndsay Grant is a lecturer in education and digital technologies at the University of Bristol. Drawing on critical data studies, science and technology studies and sociomaterial/posthuman theoretical approaches, my research interests focus on critically examining how digital technologies and data work to reshape practices of knowing, thinking and acting in educational practices, policies and cultures. My current research is focused on: exploring how predictive data practices work to perform and frame educational futures, the possibilities of playful engagement with data visualisations as relational, dynamic and open-ended, and developing new approaches to ‘data literacy’ as a sociomaterial practice.