The key issues arising from the mapping of commercialisation and privatisation of education in the context of Covid-19 point to a number of urgent research priorities:Ben Willamson & Anna Hogan
• Studies of the extent to which schools maintain their use of education technologies employed during periods of lockdown, and how this affects key schooling practices and teachers’ work including curriculum delivery, pedagogy, assessment and learning management.
• Sustained research on the promotion, roll-out and uptake of educational technologies and associated practices during the pandemic in low-income countries and international development contexts, including detailed focus on development agencies and multilateral organisation influence.
• Ongoing analysis of country-specific policy evolution and mutation in relation to commercialisation, privatisation and education technology as nations revert to in-school education, including studies of key government priorities
and private sector involvement in shaping policy agendas, and attention to cross-border ‘travelling policy’ dynamics.
• Research on emerging (re)configurations of the global education industry in different local and geographical sites, tracing out new public-private partnerships, new sources of influence and expertise, and new priorities regarding education technology (e.g. edtech ‘evidence’ and ‘what works’ programs) in the context of diverse policy spaces.
• Studies on global technology companies’ increasing involvement in public education (Microsoft, Google, Amazon) focusing on their competition for structural dominance of school infrastructure, data collection and processing practices.
• Research on emerging priorities in education technology development, particularly AI and safeguarding and social-emotional learning technologies that have expanded in reach during the pandemic, and their impact on school practices over the longer term.
• Detailed analysis of financial models and practices, particularly venture capital, philanthropy and impact investing, which have been developed and expanded to fund education technology development and dissemination during the crisis, and their long-term implications.
• Research on the emerging phenomenon of private online home tutoring as a new instantiation of the ‘shadow education industry’, exploring parents’ motivations to maintain subscriptions to fee-paying edtech products and their producers’ strategies of marketing to and profiting from parent consumer markets.
Williamson, B & Hogan, A. Commercialisation and privatisation in/of education in the context of Covid-19. Education International Research (2020).