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What does the ‘postdigital’ mean for education? Three critical perspectives on the digital, with implications for educational research and practice

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPostdigital Science and Education
Early online date23 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2019


This paper examines what the term ‘postdigital’ might mean for education through the discussion of human-technology relationships. It begins with a summary of two general interpretations of the postdigital: firstly, to understand the ‘post’ as meaning simply ‘posterior to’ the digital, suggesting a different stage in the perception and use of technology; and secondly, to consider the ‘post’ as signalling a critical appraisal of the assumptions embedded in the general understanding of the digital. Subsequently, the paper outlines three critical perspectives on the digital with specific relevance for educational concerns. The first examines the economic rationales underpinning digital technology, focusing on the idea of the platform and the assumed benefits of sharing. The second discusses the role of the digital in educational policy, and the compound effects of the metrification of institutional quality. The third section explores the digital as ‘material’, and the increasing attention paid to issues of labour and the exploitation of natural resources required to produce digital technologies. These perspectives suggest an understanding of the postdigital in terms of profound and far-reaching socio-technical relations, which have significant consequences for thinking about the purpose, focus, and governance of education in contemporary times.

    Research areas

  • platform capitalism, surveillance, data, policy, labour, materialism

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