Investing in imagined digital futures: The techno-financial ‘futuring’ of edtech investors in higher education

Ben Williamson*, Janja Komljenovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Educational technology is the focus of increasing financial investment. In this article, we examine how edtech investors imagine and invest in the future of higher education through an empirical case study of a UK investing company. Utilising concepts and methods from economic sociology, we analyse how investment companies engage in techno-financial ‘futuring’ practices. We identify two kinds of futuring practices. First, investors’ imaginary practices produce qualitative ‘fictional expectations’ about the future of education, supported by quantitative financial valuation practices that predict the monetary returns on investment available from funding edtech. Second, we analyse the specific investment-supporting operations of edtech investors, highlighting how imagined futures of education are funded into existence (or not) as investors select and support edtech products or services. In these ways, imaginaries of the future may be materialised in educational institutions through financial investments in specific edtech products. We particularly trace how investment imaginaries and operations shift from edtech markets as selling commodities to edtech industry controlling digital products and resources as assets. Therefore, the two identified complementary futuring practices function as processes of ‘assetisation’, aimed at turning educational services and resources into digital assets with calculable future value for edtech investors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-249
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Volume64
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • assetisation
  • capitalisation
  • educational technology
  • futuring
  • imaginaries
  • investment

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