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Investing in imagined digital futures: the techno-financial ‘futuring’ of edtech investors in higher education

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E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Critical Studies in Education
Number of pages16
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date1/06/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Educational technology is the focus of increasing financial investment. In this article, we examine how edtech investors imagine and invest in the future of higher education through an empirical case study of a UK investing company. Utilising concepts and methods from economic sociology, we analyse how investment companies engage in techno-financial ‘futuring’ practices. We identify two kinds of futuring practices. First, investors’ imaginary practices produce qualitative ‘fictional expectations’ about the future of education, supported by quantitative financial valuation practices that predict the monetary returns on investment available from funding edtech. Second, we analyse the specific investment-supporting operations of edtech investors, highlighting how imagined futures of education are funded into existence (or not) as investors select and support edtech products or services. In these ways, imaginaries of the future may be materialised in educational institutions through financial investments in specific edtech products. We particularly trace how investment imaginaries and operations shift from edtech markets as selling commodities to edtech industry controlling digital products and resources as assets. Therefore, the two identified complementary futuring practices function as processes of ‘assetisation’, aimed at turning educational services and resources into digital assets with calculable future value for edtech investors.