Confronting Tools of the Oppressor

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Confronting Tools of the Oppressor: Framing Just Technology Integration in Educational Technology and Teacher Education

New article by Natalie and Jessa is available here:


Power, privilege, and prejudice are embedded within technologies. While technologies can be designed and used for democratization and empowerment, they can also be used to undermine the foundations of democracy in a variety of ways. Using a conceptual framework of technologically embedded injustice, the authors engaged in a theoretical analysis of just technology integration in the preparation and professional development of preservice and in-service teachers. They investigated why the field of educational technology has been historically slow to incorporate critical approaches, in general, and in teacher education, in particular. They argue that educational technology’s roots are deeply influenced by US policy prioritizing technology for purposes of defense and capitalism. They further suggest that big tech’s surveillance capitalism and privatization of education creates a troubling tendency to overlook systemic power imbalances. The analysis suggests that educational technologies are tools of the oppressor, made by the oppressor, with power baked into their designs. As a result, they propose a clearer definition of “just technology” and suggest four intersecting approaches to move toward justice: turn toward critical approaches (e.g., critical theories); revise standards to make systemic change; wrestle with the role of education and technology in a democracy; and interrogate educational technologies. Their definition is not definitive, and their recommended practices serve as springboards, not walls. This work has been lacking in teacher education and educational technology and may open discourse, lines of inquiry, and new interpretations of justice in educational technology.

Ryan Watkins