ERG SES C 08, Pecha Kucha Session
Pecha Kucha Session
This Pecha Kucha presentation explores the universal concept of truth within the context of a 21st Century online knowledge management system. I will discuss how truth and truth-telling have come to be understood by bureaucrats, technocrats, principals and teachers through their use of a knowledge management system known as OneSchool. The OneSchool system is administered by Education Queensland, the education authority in the Australian State of Queensland. To discuss the perceptions of truth and truth-telling, developed in relation to the corporate and school use of Queensland’s online knowledge management system this presentation invites the viewpoints of two, perhaps unlikely companions, Michel Foucault and William James. OneSchool was developed on a set of eight guiding principles, some with greater priority, including a focus upon what was described as ‘a single point of truth’.
I focus in this presentation on what is understood by this term, and how it came to be recognised within Education Queensland.In 2007 the OneSchool project launched functionality, aimed at enabling the online management of all school business requirements. Three major releases incorporated functions that supported policy enactment related to a range of school tasks, from development of student profiles, academic reporting, curriculum and assessment development, and then timetabling and finance. The OneSchool functionality also gathered a range of data which informed local and corporate policy decisions. I argue that it is the interaction between policy, data and digital infrastructures such as OneSchool that creates a datafied policy space, a place that allows the flow of truth and truth-telling across educational jurisdictions, from central and regional offices to schools. This datafied policy space shapes the realm of policy for school and corporate users, constituting a particular kind of ‘truth’ in the process. OneSchool interacts with policy in multiple ways creating a plurality of policy relationships. Firstly, OneSchool is a policy artefact developed from Queensland’s 2005 ‘Smart Classroom’ strategy. Secondly, as a system that relies on technology, it is governed by a range of policies including those related to the use of IT, information security, privacy and legal requirements. Finally, I argue that OneSchool operates as a digital policy instrument, integral to the policy cycle, providing the ‘truth’ of the policy for school enactment and providing the ‘truth’ of the data by which the creation of policy is informed.
The influence of data on policy formation reminds us of the importance of ‘true’ data. James (1908) suggests that ‘truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events’ (p. 201), and therefore I will discuss the events around the use of data in OneSchool. Selwyn (2014), highlights that while data collection has occurred across the centuries, the shift to digital formats has increased the impact of the ‘three V’s of volume, velocity and variety’ (Selwyn, 2014, p.64). I argue that the digital format also allows for the additional V’s, of verification and validation that James (1908) suggests are events in themselves and by which such information is ‘made true’ (James, 1908). James explains that the importance of the ‘events’ of verification and validation, is in that they enable ‘our ideas [to] ’agree’ with reality’. These concepts of truth from the early 20th century are relevant to modern school and corporate users of OneSchool. Educational leaders in both corporate and school settings lead verification and validation ‘events’ for data to become true. Functionality to support these ‘events’ is available in OneSchool, allowing analysis and visualisation of data. I warily raise the question of visibility being added to the list of events for truth making.
Bacchi, C. (2009). Analysing Policy. Pearson Higher Education AU. Foucault, M. (2011). The Courage of the Truth. (F. Gros, F. Ewald, & A. Fontana, Eds.) (pp. 1–372). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. http://doi.org/0.1057/9780230309104 James, W. (1908). Pragmatism: A new name for some old ways of thinking. New York: Longmans, Green and Co. Selwyn, N. (2014). Data entry: towards the critical study of digital data and education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40(1), 64–82. http://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2014.921628
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