Towards equity focused approaches to EdTech: a socio-technical perspective

This project investigates the relationships between equity, digital technologies and teaching and learning.

Digital technologies are often promoted as a way to address inequity in schools. Proponents argue that providing more digital resources, in the form of access to equipment, networks and software, will lead to greater educational and social equity. These digital resource-focused aspects of inequity are very important, but such an approach focuses only on one dimension of a highly complex societal problem which can lead to simplistic interventions that are less likely to be successful.

This study, that is led by the Department of Education in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute, aims to highlight the multi-faceted implications of the use of technology for teaching and learning and the complex ways it can reinforce or reconfigure existing educational and social inequity. Based on ethnographic work in seven secondary schools in England, the project takes a relational, socio-technical approach. It attends to the ways in which varied digital technologies are used in the classroom and examines how the use of such EdTech systems change or maintain existing relationships and practices between teachers and students, problematises the inbuilt biases and underpinning values promoted by such technologies, and explores how access to EdTech and its uses varies across contexts and circumstances.

Alongside the ethnographic work, the project team will engage with social scientists, data scientists, EdTech companies, policy makers, teachers, students and the wider public to inform the future design and implementation of equity focused approaches to EdTech.

Funder: ESRC Education Research Programme

Project Dates: December 2022 – April 2025