Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Who owns educational theory? Big data, algorithms and the expert power of education data science
Author(s): Williamson, Ben
Issue Date: 1-May-2017
Date Deposited: 9-Nov-2017
Citation: Williamson B (2017) Who owns educational theory? Big data, algorithms and the expert power of education data science. E-Learning, 14 (3), pp. 105-122.
Abstract: ‘Education data science’ is an emerging methodological field which possesses the algorithm-driven technologies required to generate insights and knowledge from educational big data. This article consists of an analysis of the Lytics Lab, Stanford University’s laboratory for research and development in learning analytics, and the Center for Digital Data, Analytics and Adaptive Learning, a big data research centre of the commercial education company Pearson. These institutions are becoming methodological gatekeepers with the capacity to conduct new forms of educational research using big data and algorithmic data science methods. The central argument is that as educational data science has migrated from the academic lab to the commercial sector, ownership of the means to produce educational data analyses has become concentrated in the activities of for-profit companies. As a consequence, new theories of learning are being built-in to the tools they provide, in the shape of algorithm-driven technologies of personalization, which can be sold to schools and universities. The paper addresses two themes of this special issue: (1) how education is to be theorized in relation to algorithmic methods and data scientific epistemologies and (2) how the political economy of education is shifting as knowledge production becomes concentrated in data-driven commercial organizations.
DOI Link: 10.1177/2042753017731238
Rights: Publisher policy allows this work to be made available in this repository. Published in E-Learning and Digital Media by SAGE. The original publication is available at:

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
WilliamsonB_Who owns education theory_Post-print_2017.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version368.45 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.