Exploring the role of digital data in contemporary schools and schooling - '200,000 lines in an Excel spreadsheet'

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The generation, processing and circulation of data in digital form is now an integral aspect of contemporary schooling. Based upon empirical study of two secondary school settings in Australia, this paper considers the different forms of digitally-based data work engaged in by school leaders, managers, administrators and teachers. In particular, three distinct aspects of school data work are explored: (i) the distinction between official mandated data requirements from external government agencies, and the unofficial efforts to generate and work with `useful data; (ii) the highly mediated nature of digital data work within schools; (iii) the ways in which digital data lead to compromised knowledge and work arounds . These findings, it is argued, illustrate the embedding of digital data within secondary schools as a technology of (self)control in ways that tend to reinforce dominant cultures of school administration and management. As such, the paper considers how the restrictive forms of data governance currently at large within school systems might be problematized and acted against.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767 - 781
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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