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Towards equity-focused EdTech
A socio-technical approach


children laptops

We are witnessing a period of rapid socio-economic and technological change: new patterns of post-pandemic social and digital exclusion; an array of digital technologies that are progressively embedded in school administration, pedagogy and practice; the rise of AI, including generative and large-scale language models such as ChatGPT; and the ever-increasing power of algorithmic digital technologies to shape young people’s relationships and identities.

There is a lot of hope that using technology in schools can reduce educational and social inequalities for young people, and these hopes have intensified since the pandemic. However, very little is known about how technology is actually used for learning and teaching, the everyday realities for schools and learners, and if technology does make things fairer for all students or not.

This project first aims to understand how these changes impact the realities of teaching and learning in secondary schools across England, by gathering rich, ethnographic data about the ways technology is embedded in school practices, and how this relates to ideas about equity and educational opportunities.

Specifically, we will explore:

  • how varied digital technologies are used inside and outside the classroom;
  • how the use of such EdTech systems influences teacher-student relationships;
  • the inbuilt biases and underpinning values promoted by such technologies; and
  • how access to EdTech and its uses varies across contexts and circumstances.

Our ethnographic findings will be used to:

  • develop a set of OER materials specifically for EdTech developers and data scientists working in education
  • hold participatory workshops with key stakeholders to debate and visualise future equity-focused approaches to EdTech.