Floor Mijland | Platformisation of Education: Edtech and Learning Ecosystems in Dutch Secondary Education

Floor Mijland| Platformisation of Education: Edtech and Learning Ecosystems in Dutch Secondary Education [working title] | Project: Governing the Digital Society | Utrecht University, Humanities faculty | Supervisors: Prof. dr José van Dijck, Dr Anne Helmond and Dr Niels Kerssens | 2023-2027 | F.W.Mijland[at]uu.nl

Many educational institutions build heavily on EdTech’s, EduApps, and Learning Management Systems in their daily practices. At the ‘back end’, such educational technologies are mostly relying on or provided by private American big tech companies (Kerssens and van Dijck, 2022; Williamson et al., 2022). The platforms and data-infrastructures provided by these companies are convenient, easy to access, and user friendly. Yet, they are built by profit driven companies from countries which do not (necessarily) share the public values of Dutch secondary education: they do not govern an accountable, responsible, and transparent use of technology. On the ‘front end’ of this development, edtech’s are increasingly experienced as restrictive: they impact the pedagogical autonomy of educators through their interfaces and algorithms (Kerssens & Van Dijck, 2021; 2022; Williamson et al. 2022). As stated by Niels Kerssens and José van Dijck, the edtech’s “dashboards create a false sense of autonomous control over learning while nudging teachers’ interpretations and pedagogical actions through particular views” (2022, p, 294). Moreover, through their design current edtech’s decentre a student’s learning process in favour of results, devaluing their learning processes and personal growth. Hence, instead of considering the pedagogical consequences of implementing such systems, in many Dutch secondary schools edtech’s are merely regarded as an instrumental addition to the learning ecosystem (Kerssens and Van Dijck, 2022). However, it remains the question how instrumental these edtech’s are. So, how do edtech’s govern the learning ecosystem in secondary education in the Netherlands?