chapter  12
15 Pages

Machinic Affects

Education Data Infrastructure and the Pedagogy of Objects
WithSam Sellar

This chapter examines the affects produced within and through encounters with the data infrastructures that are emerging in schools and school systems. The term data infrastructure describes increasingly integrated information systems that are used to collect, analyze, and act upon data for organizational purposes (Sellar, 2015a). While having a material substrate in the form of computer hardware, this infrastructure is primarily a “medium of information” that can be likened to an “operating system” or “an updating platform unfolding in time” (Easterling, 2014, p. 14). Over the past few decades, school systems in many Anglophone nations have been fragmented by policies that have promoted market dynamics (e.g., school choice) and management logics imported from the private sector (e.g., devolution). As a result, the coherence of these systems is increasingly constituted by the connectedness of data infrastructures and the synoptic view of schools provided by data. As Lawn (2013) has argued in relation to English schooling, “the system is held together, and re-imagined, through data” (p. 232). This shift has included the implementation of data-driven, performative accountability as an instrument for managing teachers and schools (Anagnostopoulos, Rutledge, and Jacobsen, 2013), and as Ball (2003) has shown, “these technologies have an emotional status dimension … responses to the flow of performance information can engender individual feelings of pride, guilt, shame and envy” (p. 221).