28 SES 14, Datafying Education
Recently, global policy actors including the OECD and World Economic Forum have begun to promote social-emotional learning, encouraging national governments to develop a policy agenda around the measurement and management of non-academic learning. These emerging ‘psycho-policy’ ambitions are being made operational through data-driven classroom technologies such as ClassDojo. Enabling children’s classroom behaviours to be measured, visualized and made intervene-able at massive scale and high speed, ClassDojo represents the datafication of social-emotional learning. This paper focuses specifically on how ClassDojo translates new psychological concepts of non-academic learning into a global psycho-policy agenda. Methodologically, the research has mobilized network analysis (Ball 2016) to trace the organizational, technical, governmental and scientific relations that are translated together and encoded in the ClassDojo app, and an analytical framework developed from combining critical studies of ‘fast policy’ (Peck & Theodore 2015) and ‘psychological governance’ (Jones, Pykett & Whitehead 2013). The ‘speeding up’ of education policy has been enabled by technologies of data collection and analysis, which are seen to help to create insights into ‘what works’ and ‘best practices’ that can influence decision-making at fast pace (Lewis & Hogan 2016). In addition, ClassDojo is speeding up the diffusion and enactment within classrooms of new forms of ‘psycho-compulsion’ that emphasize the surveillance of psychological characteristics and interventions intended to modify behaviours and attitudes, particularly through the imposition of positive affect (Friedli & Stearn 2015). As a fast policy technology of psychological governance, ClassDojo is prototypical of the speeding-up of a transnational political emphasis on the psychological measurement and management of children’s social and emotional lives, and is increasingly viewed as a data-driven exemplar of ‘what works’ and a ‘best practice’ in the promotion of new psychological explanations and interventions in education.
Ball, S.J. 2016. Following policy: networks, network ethnography and education policy mobilities. Journal of Education Policy. DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2015.1122232 Friedli, L. & Stearn, R. 2015. Positive affect as coercive strategy: conditionality, activation and the role of psychology in UK government workfare programmes. Medical Humanities 41: 40-47. Jones, R., Pykett, J. & Whitehead, M. 2013. Changing Behaviours: On the rise of the psychological state. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Lewis, S. & Hogan, A. 2016. Reform first and ask questions later? The implications of (fast) schooling policy and ‘silver bullet’ solutions. Critical Studies in Education: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2016.1219961 Peck, J. & Theodore, N. 2015. Fast Policy: Experimental statecraft at the thresholds of neoliberalism. London: University of Minnesota Press.
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