Critical education and digital cultures – Knox Notes

Critical education and digital cultures

From Springer Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

Jeremy Knox


Tech and culture approach is relevant to educational studies. Particularly as dig tech is used more.

Most education studies concentrate on a developing human subject. Thus open to humanist flaws e.g. universalism, rational progress, assumptions of autonomy. Makes instrumentalist assumptions of tech.

So don’t just think of benefits and limits of tech. Ask how is a tech used, valued, imagined by those involved.

Don’t think about improvement. Just think about describing what is happening.


Avoid determinism

Social determinism – humans drive tech change.

Tech. determinism – tech drives human change.


3 phases


Cybernetics. Internet as virtual space. Web 1.0 cyber utopianism. Studies on identity on the web. Influences education with ideas of “virtual e-learning”. No constraints of trad. Institutions. Students not limited by physical presence/identity.

Big sci fi influence. Tech is otherworldly.

Deterministic – web will improve education


Focus on social aspects of internet use. Web 2.0. Tech as passive tool for enabling social interaction. Internet as invisible network rather than virtual space. Tech is normal.

Education – moves from tech providing ed resources to tech enabling student-teacher interractions.

Tech will provide networks which will sort out problems of access, hierarchy, inequalities.

Critical Culture approach will question assumptions of whether social learning/connectivism is a “natural” way to learn or is there a silicon valley agenda at work.



An effort to make the tech visible in education research. Algorithms as network actors. How do algorithms shape education? Epistemologies? Research methods? More stats and the death of theory?


Tech is a complicated factor in education.