Education governance and digitization inherent conflicts and potential safeguards for a new soc...


This article highlights inherent conflicts between technology industry incentives and a new social contract for education, while arguing for safeguards to mitigate the risk of technology industry engagement in education governance. Business strategies often utilize economies of scale, standardization, and internationalization to maximize profits. These strategies are diametrically opposed to education as a public endeavor and as a reflection of humanity’s diverse ways of knowing and being in various local contexts. Technology industry strategies tend to emphasize the disruption of sectors and encourage entrepreneurialism and innovation with an emphasis on outputs, measurement, and impact. These strategies often recast the “good” of education from public to private returns. While appropriate engagement of non-state technology actors in education governance can offer solutions in support of global education goals and a new social contract for education, I argue that such mobilization is multi-sided, simultaneously pushing through innovative, yet untested, education agendas. The article identifies potential risks to systems of public education and reflects upon safeguards, which fall into two main categories: issues of transparency, accountability and legitimacy; and issues of technology management and governance. Proactively addressing inherent conflicts and potential safeguards, I argue, is a key step to identifying ways to strengthen motivations for corporations to forge meaningful long-term investment in a new social contract for education and for the development of education governance structures that are equitable and democratic.