Technology is reshaping our increasingly interconnected world. The use of technology in education has been growing in recent years, and saw an immense expansion during the Covid-19 pandemic as school closures promoted a mass turn to online platforms. Technology in education - often described as EdTech - takes many forms. It can include, among other features, the use of devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops in the classroom; the use of software for teaching and homework; the use of games and platforms; virtual reality; blended face to face and computer-mediated activities; distance learning; artificial intelligence; Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); learning machines; scripted learning via teacher tablets; and video-monitoring of classrooms.
Technology can offer the potential for the expansion of quality education, and can support the realisation of the right to education. But it also raises a series of deeply troubling issues from an ethical and human rights perspective. Who owns our data, whether we can meaningfully consent to the use of educational technology, and why and how it is being used to add to the educational experience must be questions which guide our acceptance and understanding of the use of technology in education.
It is essential that EdTech is developed and used in accordance with human rights and the aims of education in their human rights essence, and that legal and policy frameworks are developed to protect students’ and teachers’ rights.