If these are signals of an emerging edtechlash, then educators, decision-makers and the edtech industry would benefit from being engaged in the key issues that are now emerging, namely that:
- private sector influence and outsourcing is perceived to be detrimental to public education
- lack of edtech diversity may reproduce the pedagogic assumptions of engineers
- student distrust of engineering solutions and continuing trust in human interactions as central to education
- there may be bad science behind positive industry and investor PR
- new data protection regulations question how easily student ‘consent’ can be assumed when the balance of power is unequal
- algorithmic ‘accuracy’ is being exposed as deeply flawed and full of biases
- algorithmic flaws can lead to devastating consequences at huge costs to individuals, the public, and institutions
- increasingly invasive surveillance proposals raise new ethical and human rights issues that are likely to be acted upon in coming years.
We should not and cannot ignore these tensions and challenges. They are early signals of resistance ahead for edtech which need to be engaged with before they turn to public outrage. By paying attention to and acting on edtech resistances it may be possible to create education systems, curricula and practices that are fair and trustworthy. It is important not to allow edtech resistance to metamorphose into resistance to education itself.
In a presentation for EdTech KnowHow conference, Stavanger, Norway, 26 September 2019, Ben Williamson discusses the topic of resistance to technology in education. This is a useful post as it provides a broad survey of the different ways that people have been critically engaging in this space. Whether it be general questions about technology, concern over diversity, push back from students, scepticism from investors, new regulations and issues with algorithms. I think what this highlights the need to be when engaging with technology.