Posts Tagged ‘Foucault’

AI and ed research

This article presents an examination of how education research is being remade as an experimental data-intensive science. AI is combining with learning science in new ‘digital laboratories’ where ownership over data, and power and authority over educational knowledge production, are being redistributed to research assemblages of computational machines and scientific expertise.

Research across the sciences, humanities and social sciences is increasingly conducted through digital knowledge machines that are reconfiguring the ways knowledge is generated, circulated and used (Meyer and Schroeder, 2015).

Knowledge infrastructures, such as those of statistical institutes or research-intensive universities, have undergone significant digital transformation with the arrival of data-intensive technologies, with knowledge production now enacted in myriad settings, from academic laboratories and research institutes to commercial research and development studios, think tanks and consultancies. Datafied knowledge infrastructures have become hubs of command and control over the creation, analysis and exchange of data (Bigo et al., 2019).

The combination of AI and learning science into an AILSci research assemblage consists of particular forms of scientific expertise embodied by knowledge actors – individuals and organizations – identified by categories including science of learning, AIED, precision education and learning engineering.

Precision education overtly uses psychological, neurological and genomic data to tailor or personalize learning around the unique needs of the individual (Williamson, 2019). Precision education approaches include cognitive tracking, behavioural monitoring, brain imaging and DNA analysis.

Expert power is therefore claimed by those who can perform big data analyses, especially those able to translate and narrate the data for various audiences. Likewise, expert power in education is now claimed by those who can enact data-intensive science of learning, precision education and learning engineering research and development, and translate AILSci findings into knowledge for application in policy and practitioner settings.

the thinking of a thinking infrastructure is not merely a conscious human cognitive process, but relationally performed across humans and socio-material strata, wherein interconnected technical devices and other forms ‘organize thinking and thought and direct action’.
As an infrastructure for AILSci analyses, these technologies at least partly structure how experts think: they generate new understandings and knowledge about processes of education and learning that are only thinkable and knowable due to the computational machinery of the research enterprise.

Big data-based molecular genetics studies are part of a bioinformatics-led transformation of biomedical sciences based on analysing exceptional volumes of data (Parry and Greenhough, 2018), which has transformed the biological sciences to focus on structured and computable data rather than embodied evidence itself.

Isin and Ruppert (2019) have recently conceptualized an emergent form of power that they characterize as sensory power. Building on Foucault, they note how sovereign power gradually metamorphosed into disciplinary power and biopolitical forms of statistical regulation over bodies and populations.
Sensory power marks a shift to practices of data-intensive sensing, and to the quantified tracking, recording and representing of living pulses, movements and sentiments through devices such as wearable fitness monitors, online natural-language processing and behaviour-tracking apps. Davies (2019: 515–20) designates these as ‘techno-somatic real-time sensing’ technologies that capture the ‘rhythms’ and ‘metronomic vitality’ of human bodies, and bring about ‘new cyborg-type assemblages of bodies, codes, screens and machines’ in a ‘constant cybernetic loop of action, feedback and adaptation’.

Techno-somatic modes of neural sensing, using neurotechnologies for brain imaging and neural analysis, are the next frontier in AILSci. Real-time brainwave sensing is being developed and trialled in multiple expert settings.

more on AI in this IMS blog

rethinking gamification

Ruffino, P., & Fizek, S. (n.d.). Rethinking Gamification. Retrieved from

more on gamification in this IMS blog

Gamification can be approached in at least two ways. First, as a general process in which games and playful experiences are understood as essential components of society and culture.

Sebastian Deterding, Rilla
Khaled, Lennart Nacke and Dan Dixon have proposed a tentative history of
the term: “ ‘gamification’ as a term originated in the digital media industry.
The first documented use dates back to 2008, but gamification only entered
widespread adoption in the second half of 2010”

Jane McGonigal’s work, expounded in her contribution at the TED
Talk series in 2010, is also concerned with “selling” gamification to corporations.
In her book Reality is Broken. p.9  In her understanding, gamification is a concept that describes a new age where gamers can collectively use their problem-solving skills not only
to solve puzzles within a digital game but also to approach social and political
issues in the real world. Gaming, according to McGonigal’s vision,
could and should play a redeeming role. Game designers could become the
new social entrepreneurs, and citizens become gamers. From this perspective,
gamification thus becomes a technique for enabling greatly ambitious

p. 10 Consumer loyalty, issues related to finance and governance, workers’ productivity, training and development – these are only some of the areas that are allegedly being positively revolu tionised by the emergence of gamification

As outlined by Ian Bogost in several contexts (2011a, 2011b), gamificatio has little to do with the design of games (or an allegedly salvific process), and much more with the exploitation of consumers. It frustrates the practice of game design and reduces playing to a stimulus-response experience

p. 11 Niklas Schrape proposes looking, through Foucault, at how gamification might work as a method to regulate individuals and their social lives. It also works as a pleasant regulator of behaviour because it offers positive feedback (rewards, leaderboards, etc.) rather than
negative penalties (fines, prison, etc.).

Ruffino looks at the work of Tim Ingold and his reading of Bergson and Heidegger and argues that participation, dwelling and co-existence could be seen as alternative ways of thinking about engagement: less as a transitive process that goes from games to their players and more as an in transitive status that needs to be narrated in order to be of any value

Foursquare alters the experience of moving about on the streets of a city and establishes a form of communication based on bodily proximity

p. 12 Joost Raessens examines how gamification could be seen in the context of a more general “ludic turn”, which affects society and culture at many different levels. This century, Raessens notes, has seen several different kinds of “turns”: We have seen the linguistic turn, the digital, followed by the material one and many others. To what extent could we say that we are now experiencing a playful turnp.

p. 14 the definition of gamification as the use of game elements in a non-game context.
Philippette suggests the very idea that games that can influencethe non-game context could be re-interpreted following Henriot’s theories on play (

Counter-gamification is not a precise practice; it is not defined in guidebooks, workshops, or tutorials. It is instead a form of appropriation of playful elements by artists in order to promote radical and oppositional values.

p. 15 Fizek’s proposal is to expand the concept of play and fun and to introduce new forms of engagement in the practice of gamification

If the endgame approach were applied to gamification, Nicholson argues, we could see very different ways of designing and playing. The author explores these alternative modes of gamifying things through a text that offers both a theoretical understanding of gamification and exceptionally useful suggestions for designers.

p. 16 an eudaimonic view of gamification could bring a “good” way of living and
playing, one where joy and satisfaction are at the centre of a responsible practice. Gamification, according to Deterding, could become the name of a play practice that truly helps human beings in fulfilling their own lives and those of others

More on Bogost in this IMS blog