ERG SES G 11, Context and Content in Education
This presentation reveals how policy actors, participated in the development of an online management system for schools, in the Queensland, Australia context. The research draws on interviews with a cross section of participants from all levels of the public education authority who were involved in this policy work. From elites and experts who were close to the decision making processes to the policy enactors in schools, the interviewees provided not only a view of their experiences but also of the ‘relations of ruling’ (DeVault & McCoy, 2006) that have shaped and guided the development of the knowledge management system, known as OneSchool. Education Queensland’s OneSchool system has been central to the reform of school management over the past decade. I argue that it also operates as a digital policy instrument, disciplining policy in an era of digital governance, and disciplining those constituted as its authors. The paper will explore how I accessed these OneSchool ‘authors’, sifting through the list of policy writers, bureaucrats, technocrats, developers and school principals to determine how these people came to be constituted as the authors of this digital policy system. I will also investigate the impact of my insider status on the interview process. In doing, so I acknowledge as did Foucault, the ‘solid and fundamental unit of the author and the work’ (Foucault & Rabinow, 1991, p. 101).
The knowledge management system, OneSchool operates in every state school in Queensland and is described as ‘… a school-driven initiative … that provides a single point of truth about teaching, learning, schools, the curriculum, performance and financials’ (Department of Education Training and Employment, n.d.). It is accessed online by teachers and principals, as well as by state and regional education personnel. While there is global interest in the increasing use and development of digital policy instruments (Williamson, 2015), OneSchool differs from the available commercial products. Designed and built ‘in-house’, after a three-year unsuccessful international procurement process, its requirements were determined by a Guiding Coalition of 138 state school principals in consultation with policy actors from state and regional educational authorities and developed in partnership with a range of local and international ICT specialists (Department of Education Training and Employment, 2014). In questioning who the authors of OneSchool are, from such a range of participants, I turn to Foucault’s (1991) question; ‘What is an author?’ (p. 101), and extend the interpretation of what is a text to include both documents and software. I do this by including coding into the languages that create ‘texts’. I also extend Foucault’s ideas regarding what constitutes the ‘work’ of an author, into the digital age. In doing so I argue that OneSchool is a composite work, indeed a collaborative work reliant on a multitude of authors.
Department of Education Training and Employment. (2014). OneSchool – Overview, 1–3. Department of Education Training and Employment. (n.d.). Working Digitally. Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/working-digitally/index.html DeVault, M., & McCoy, L. (2006). Institutional Ethnography: Using Interviews to Investigate ruling Relations. In D. E. Smith (Ed.), Institutional Ethnography as Practice (pp. 15–44). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Foucault, M., & Rabinow, P. (1991). The Foucault Reader. (P. Rabinow, Ed.). Penguin Books, Limited (UK). James, W. (1908). Pragmatism: A new name for some old ways of thinking. New York: Longmans, Green and Co. Williamson, B. (2015). Digital education governance: data visualization, predictive analytics, and “real-time” policy instruments. Journal of Education Policy, 31(2), 123–141. http://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2015.1035758
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