Does Big Tech have too much power in the post-pandemic university?

During the pandemic platforms like Zoom and Teams became central to the core operations of the university, enabling teaching and research to continue in the absence of face-to-face interaction. The radical change involved in what has been called the online pivot built upon a much longer term process of growing reliance upon digital infrastructure across higher education. Each operation of the university has been changed through cloud based services to the extent the university itself could be argued to increasingly resemble a platform, enabling individuals to work together at a distance while the system itself quietly shapes their interaction.

The online pivot wouldn’t have been possible without these platforms but there are crucial questions we must begin to ask as we move into a new phase of this crisis. How are decisions about them being made? How are they changing working life within universities? What influence do the firms operating them have over what we do? What does our institutional dependence on them mean for the future of the university?

Dr Janja Komljenovic, Professor Susan Robertson and Dr Ben Williamson will reflect on these questions in conversation with DTCE’s Dr Mark Carrigan, with plenty of opportunity for audience participation.

Photo by ev on Unsplash

1 comment

  1. Big tech only has power if we let it. There are free open source software alternatives. But those take a little extra effort, and don’t have sales people pandering to our egos.

    Seeing the university as a platform, is a good approach. As a teacher, I see my role largely as keeping in the background, helping students learn together, via the tech.

    The online pivot has not changed universities that much. Academics are wringing their hands about students not turning up to class. But most students did not turn up to most classes pre-COVID. Distance education has answered this need over the decades, using whatever technology was available: post, radio, TV, with Internet just the latest. We can have campuses in the future, to supplement online leanring.


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