In its latest action plan on digital education, the European Union underlined the ambition of ensuring that all citizens are prepared to live and work in the digital age. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic, with its widespread closure of schools and universities, has thrown into sharp relief how the introduction of digital technology fundamentally reshapes the organisation of education. Within a few months, it became evident that schooling without school or studying without campus prompts the influx of new, private actors on an unprecedented scale. This project focuses on such digital reorganisation of education, cut off from the classroom. In particular, I propose to investigate how the conversion towards digital learning platforms participates in a worldwide disruption of pedagogical valuation processes. While existing research has so far favoured questions of power and inequalities, the disruptive capacity of these learning platforms to radically redefine what education values as worth learning has hardly been studied.
To fill this gap, the EU-funded MORPHOGENESIS research project proposes (1) to build a framework that formulates an ensemble of concepts with theoretical insights from three related (sub)disciplines: sociology of education, organisation studies and the study of regionalisation and globalisation processes. With the help of Luhmannian systems theory, the coherent formulation of such framework will make it possible to analyse how, through such digital platforms, the reorganisation and the differentiation of global education go hand in hand; (2) to develop an extended case ethnography of the start-up scene in New York, where this so-called EdTech is currently being imagined, coded and executed into the platforms that explicitly aspire to disrupt contemporary education. Together, the conceptual framework and methodology will enable a better grasp of the metamorphosis that education is currently undergoing and the unprecedented role that online learning platforms play within it.
Funded under Horizon2020 by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action program.