The Critical Digital Education Research Group explores the role of technology in learning and education, with a specific focus on inequality and social justice national and internationally.

Through varied projects that focus on different life stages and contexts of learning, our research interrogates the ways in which new technologies are reinforcing and exacerbating inequalities within our education systems and society as a whole. One strand of this work focuses on the UK and includes critical studies that both exemplify and try to change existing social injustices, and the second core strand focuses on the complex development processes involved in designing innovative educational technologies for marginalised learners in low resource settings.  Our research is mixed-method, with a strong and growing emphasis on design and participatory approaches and the use of social-data science.

Our research is funded by multiple organisations including the British Academy, DFID, the Wellcome Trust, the European Commission, the ESRC, the Gates Foundation, John Fell Fund, the Nominet Trust, the Oxford IT Innovations Fund, Goldman Sachs Gives and Wikipedia. Our activities build upon the past work of the Learning and New Technologies Research Group (LNTRG) that was based at the department from 2010-2021.

Selected publications

  • Eynon, R. (2022). Datafication and the role of schooling. In, Pangrazio, L., and Sefton-Green, J. (Eds). Learning to Live with Datafication: Educational Case Studies and Initiatives from Across the World. Routledge.
  • Eynon, R. (2022). Utilising a critical realist lens to conceptualise digital inequality: the experiences of less well-off Internet users. Social Science Computer Review.
  • Gillani, N., Eynon, R., Chiabaut, C. and Finkel, K. (2022). Unpacking the ‘Black Box’ of AI in Education. Educational Technology & Society, 26(1).
  • Gillani, N., Chu, E., Beeferman, D., Eynon, R. and Roy, D. (2022). Parents’ online school reviews reflect several racial and socioeconomic disparities in K–12 education. AERA Open, 7.
  • Davies, H.C., Eynon, R. and Salveson, C. (2021). The mobilisation of AI in education: A Bourdieusean field analysis. Sociology, 55(3), 539-560.
  • Denton-Calabrese, T., Mustain, P., Geniets, A., Hakimi, L. and Winters, N. (2021). Empowerment beyond skills: Computing and the enhancement of self-concept in the go_girl code+ create programme. Computers & Education.
  • Eynon, R. (2021). Becoming digitally literate: Reinstating an educational lens to digital skills policies for adults. British Educational Research Journal, 47 (1), 146-162.
  • Eynon, R. and Malmberg, L.-E. (2021). Lifelong learning and the Internet: Who benefits most from learning online? British Journal of Educational Technology, 52 (2), 569 -583.
  • Eynon, R. and Young, E. (2021). Methodology, legend, and rhetoric: The constructions of AI by academia, industry, and policy groups for lifelong learning. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 46(1), 166-191.
  • Geniets, A., O’Donovan, J., Hakimi, L. and Winters, N. (2021). Training for Community Health: Bridging the global health care gap. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hakimi, L., Eynon, R. and Murphy, V. (2021). The ethics of using digital trace data in education: a thematic review of the research landscape. Review of Educational Research, 91(5), 671-717.
  • Kahn, K. and Winters, N. (2021). Constructionism and AI: A history and possible futures. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(3), 1130-1142.
  • Lincenberg, J. and Eynon, R. (2021). Crafting worldly spaces: The role of the educator in shaping student agency in Minecraft. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies.
  • Winters, N. and Patel, K.  (2021). Can a reconceptualization of online training be part of the solution to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic? Journal of Inter-professional Care, 35(2), 161-163.
  • O’Donovan, J., Hamala, R., Nama, A., Musoke, D., Ssemugabo, C. & Winters, N. (2020). ‘We are the people whose opinions don’t matter’. A photovoice study exploring challenges faced by community health workers in Uganda, Global Public Health, 15(3), 384-401.
  • Selwyn, N., Hillman, T., Eynon, R., Ferreira, G., Knox, J., Macgilchrist, F. and Sancho-Gil, J.M. (2020). What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020s. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1), 1-6.
  • Williamson, B., Eynon, R. and Potter, J. (2020). Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(2), 107-114.
  • Winters, N., Eynon, R., Geniets, A., Robson, J. and Kahn, K. (2020). Can we avoid digital structural violence in future learning systems? Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1), 17-30.
  • Winters, N., Venkatapuram, S., Geniets, A. & Wynne, E. (2020). Prioritarian principles for digital health in low resource settings, Journal of Medical Ethics, 46(4), 259-264.

Study with us

The Critical Digital Education Research Group has a lively academic culture that brings together a multidisciplinary group of academics and postgraduates from across Oxford to explore the role of technology in learning and education, with a specific focus on inequality and social justice nationally and internationally. We welcome applications from DPhil students interested in this area. We also run the MSc Education (Digital and Social Change).

Examples of current DPhil projects:

  • Manal Bougazzoul: Teens, Tech and Learning: An Intersectional Approach to Understanding the Links between Social and Digital Inequalities.
  • Karim Elmehairy: Exploring configurations of and patterns of engagement with learning resources within learning ecologies.

Examples of recently completed DPhil projects:

  • Tracey Calabrese: Shaping School Culture to Transform Education: An Ethnographic Study of New Technology High Schools.
  • Laura Pinkerton: Does not compute: social dissonance in England’s new computing education policy.
  • Julianne Viola: Civic Identity in the Digital Age: An investigation into the civic experiences of American young people.
  • Erin Young: (Un)settling differences: Re-conceptualisations of technologically-mediated interdisciplinary research in Higher Education.


The work of the Critical Digital Research Group aims to impact research, policy and practice locally nationally and internationally in variety of different ways. Examples include:

  • GoGirl, a programme that partners with Oxfordshire County Council to provide opportunities for marginalised young women to explore training, education and technology through creative programming activities.
  • LIFE is being developed as a social enterprise, with the expectation that it will be used in the formal training of over 5,000 nurses in LMICs. It is available on the App Store and on Google Play.
  • Editorial roles for leading academic journals including the British Journal of Educational Technology and Learning, Media and Technology.
  • Advising policy makers, including giving advice to Select Committees and contributing to parliamentary briefings in the UK, and providing research insights for intergovernmental organisations such as the OECD.