What education problems can technology not address? Which ones does it exacerbate?

Dorothy S. Bass


By Michael Gallagher, Yujun (June) Xu and Ben Williamson, College of Edinburgh

The Centre for Analysis in Digital Instruction (CRDE) and Comparative Education and learning and Worldwide Improvement (CEID) Exploration Team at the University of Edinburgh not long ago hosted a session celebration to explore our draft reaction to the thought observe of the 2023 GEM Report on technologies and instruction. The strategy be aware is mostly concentrated on the position that technological innovation may possibly enjoy in schooling, specifically in a write-up-COVID globe. Two macro queries guide the concept observe and for that reason the opportunity construction of the report:

  • What education and learning challenges can engineering address?
  • What ailments need to have to be achieved for technological know-how to aid schooling?

To deliver a additional holistic, balanced report, we advised in our draft reaction further inquiries that may well be raised to understand the limits or shortcomings of instruction. These could contain:

  • What education problems are not able to be addressed by know-how?
  • What instruction challenges are exasperated by technological know-how?

The event itself and discussions later on created some lively dialogue and determined what we feel to be 3 specially salient takeaways.

What counts as engineering?

There is a want to broaden the typically-monolithic presentation of what systems matter in education. Great examples were being presented at the session event by Professor Laura Czerniewicz of the College of Cape Town and other individuals demonstrating that a range of systems can and do co-exist (analogue, electronic, networked electronic, and Smart technologies) and, in a lot of scenarios, could possibly be superior suited to the wants of instructional contexts. The GEM Report need to contemplate the comprehensive assortment of technologies readily available to us: paper, radio, televisions, cellular devices, laptops, and so on. Despite the fact that formulated at diverse factors in time, they all nonetheless coexist in numerous, if not most, destinations.  All present some possible utility for how training is structured and performed.

It is crucial, then, to prevent a definition of technology that excludes some in favour of many others. Just as preceding GEM Report editions have offered useful definitions for just about every of the themes they have resolved, which include high-quality and inclusion, the 2023 GEM Report should incorporate a doing work definition of what education technology refers to. This need to be wide ample to involve analogue and other greatly applied technologies and versatile plenty of to adapt to the lived realities of educational contexts.


The way equity is now positioned in the idea observe is problematic. It would be practical to make clear how technological know-how is used to aid equity, fairly than simply equality and a tendency in direction of egalitarianism, in various contexts. The report could usefully give assistance on methods for balancing the dysfunctional nature of source redistribution and likely enlarged social stratification.

We are paraphrasing Professor Niall Winters from Oxford College in this article, but if the report advocated for using basic technology to reach the marginalized then it would be advocating for electronic inequality to be constructed into the process: in other words, this strategy would be confined to relying on pedagogies that this know-how is constrained to help. This seems to go in opposition to the fairness rationale, or even a prioiritarian a single, where by their learning wants would be set to start with. If the most marginalized are not targeted – or created for – in these drives in the direction of higher technological use, then their marginalization is inevitably accelerated.


There was a great deal of discussion about the governance of big technological programs and the encroachment of the business sector into the every day functions of education. A single urgent situation problems the small business products that are driving up interest and expense in new digitalized and data-driven methods to education and learning. Billions of pounds of venture funds are flowing to EdTech corporations, even though world-wide huge tech operators are going quickly into education too, via the provision of new training platforms and cloud architecture.

The introduction of new capacities of automation, synthetic intelligence, and other algorithmic functions could significantly impact on school rooms. There could be added benefits listed here, but at current these kinds of changes are currently being driven by sector hype and ‘revolutionary’ guarantees, which see the EdTech sector and even significant tech itself as the most ideal means to change schooling. These are not inevitably beneficial or useful transformations. In Barcelona, for example, the town council has challenged the power of Google and Microsoft in schools by funding the improvement of an alternative, open up resource infrastructure for digital schooling that does not depend on significant selection of pupil knowledge. Developing on the suggestions in its most recent edition out very last December on how to regulate non-state actors, the 2023 GEM Report should really consider whether or not new governance mechanisms are expected to handle the immediate business-driven growth of facts-pushed business versions in community education and learning.

We see these broader definitions of instructional technological innovation, fairness, and governance as currently being inevitably interdependent. Just one can see how an emphasis on positioning instructional technological know-how far more in the direction of artificial intelligence and considerably less in the direction of analogue systems immediately cascades into fueling inequity, specifically for individuals already marginalized. These kinds of an emphasis additional fuels an by now colossal EdTech current market created to ‘transform’ the ‘broken’ techniques of education and learning. And so on.

It is critically critical we get this ideal. Commencing from a location of fairness and governance and incorporating the use of suitable analogue and electronic systems seems like a fantastic spot for the 2023 GEM Report to begin.

A report summarizing the critical takeaways from this celebration is out there on the internet.


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