ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making Higher Education Digital

Edtech and Capital’s Search for New Sites of Profit

EdTech Inc: Selling, Automating and Globalizing Higher Education in the Digital Age by Tanner Mirrlees and Shahid Alvi, New York: Routledge, 2020; pp 175, £36.99  GBP (E-book).

[The book was reviewed and submitted when the COVID-19-induced pandemic restrictions were in place during 2020–21. The arguments made here thus were contemporary to that time.]

During 2020–21, online learning had become the normal mode of operation at all levels of educational operations. For educationists, this meant that it had become all the more necessary to engage with the content and organisation of online mode of educational conduct. While this content was not to be reduced to the notes, books, images, PowerPoint presentations or answer/evaluation sheets, its organisation was similarly not to be reduced to one sector (education) using the advances made by another sector (software industry) to manage the emerging situation of crisis. It appeared for a while as if educational institutions and practitioners were using a digital infrastructure when the physical mode of organising education had hit a standstill during the pandemic, thus sharing an external relationship between them.

But in the concrete practice of organising virtual classrooms, we realised that what we used to understand as both educational practice and digital technology had both undergone tremendous changes—both in our subjective registers and objectively in the political economy of their organisation. Tanner Mirrlees and Shahid Alvi’s (2020) EdTech Inc: Selling, Automating and Globalizing Higher Education in the Digital Age, though written before the pandemic and specific in its focus on the United States’s higher education, provided a critical lens to look into the political-economical aspect of digital technology’s entry into higher education. Its insights into the changing character of higher education through the normalisation of online classes and virtual learning spaces were prophetic to say the least.

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Updated On : 29th Nov, 2023
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