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Automating Learning Situations in EdTech: Techno-commercial logic of assetisation

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/01/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Postdigital Science and Education
Issue number1
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)100-116
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/12/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Critical scholarship has already shown how automation processes may be problematic, for example, by reproducing social inequalities instead of removing them or requiring intense labour from education institutions’ staff instead of easing the workload. Despite these critiques, automated interventions in education are expanding fast and often with limited scrutiny of the technological and commercial specificities of such processes. We build on existing debates by asking: does automation of learning situations contribute to assetisation processes in EdTech, and if so, how? Drawing on document analysis and interviews with EdTech companies’ employees, we argue that automated interventions make assetisation possible. We trace their techno-commercial logic by analysing how learning situations are made tangible by constructing digital objects, and how they are automated through specific computational interventions. We identify three assetisation processes: First, the alienation of digital objects from students and staff deepens the companies’ control of digital services offering automated learning interventions. Second, engagement fetishism—i.e., treating engagement as both the goal and means of automated learning situations—valorises particular forms of automation. And finally, techno-deterministic beliefs drive investment and policy into identified forms of automation, making higher education and EdTech constituents act ‘as if’ the automation of learning is feasible.