Digital learning: distraction or default for the future

Monographic focus

Over the years, the development of information and communication technologies has created waves of excitement due to the expectations to offer “quick fix” to educational problems and improve learning results. At least since the creation of the teaching machine in the fifties, the rapid development of digital technologies has increased this enthusiasm, prompting a succession of attempts by policymakers to integrate digital technologies into educational institutions (ej. CD-ROM, PC, SmartBoards, OLPC, BYOD, etc.). The limited vision of those digital technologies experiences, which ignored the complexity of embracing deep transformations in education (eg. training, pedagogies, monitoring, funding, support) generated difficulties to tackle the major problems in education. 

EdTechXGlobal Global report predicted “edtech” spend to reach $252bn by 2020. Although this is a booming market, medium and large-scale technology deployments in education have had bad reputation due to reports from international organizations (ej. OECD, World Bank) and other academic entities which showed no correlation or even negative correlation between the acquisition of technology (ej. connectivity, computers, software, digital contents) and better student performance in the standardized test. 

We are aware that there are many successful experiences around the world to implementing digital technologies in school contexts. However, we consider that is important to make know those Top-Down and Bottom-Up initiatives that haven't worked or have failed, particularly, those initiatives characterized by imposing a deterministic (technocratic solutionism) vision of digital technology and its potential educational impact. From the academic sector is critical to analyze the mismatch between expectations and reality but also to provide better evidences and analysis to deepening the knowledge in this field. Considering all of this, we propose to answer the following questions:

  • What has gone wrong in the existing digital education policies? Why? 

  • What are the lessons learned? 

  • What are the commonalities between different unsuccessful digital education projects? 

  • Can the future of digital education be different? How?


1.- To identify and analyze from a critical and international perspective the most common errors (and its main causes) during the implementation and adoption of digital technologies in school contexts, including both "top-down" and "bottom-up" initiatives.

2.- To explore alternatives or potential solutions generated in the face of these failed experiences, analyzing how to replicate (and improve) them under different conditions.

3.- To group and compare a set of failing experiences of digital education in school contexts, addressing educators, academics and policy makers, but also sharing lessons learned that can be integrated during future initiatives.


The community is invited to send us contributions derived from academic research on the subject; Elaboration of international-comparative studies; Results of evaluation of public policies in digital inclusion; Results of evaluation of local digital inclusion initiatives; and theoretical reviews that represent a true contribution to the current debate on the focus of the monograph.


  • Technological determinism in the design of public policies of digital inclusion

  • Culture of innovation, and change resistance regarding digital education 

  • Evaluation and analysis of learning acquisition processes from the use of digital technologies

  • Assimilation of digital competences in the school and its usability in non-formal environments (vice versa)

  • Digital education, impact evaluation, national or regional assessment, learning performance

  • Invisible learning in school contexts

  • Experiences of students, teachers and management team during the transition from "analog school" to "digital school"

  • Macro and meso-level lessons: evaluation of educational policies of digital and technological inclusion in schools.

  • Micro-level lessons: evaluation of local initiatives for the insertion and use of digital technologies in the pedagogical and administrative management processes

  • Opportunities for learning and decision making in the digital age.

  • Learning processes of diverse professional groups and their impact on the organization of their training and professional development.


  • September 1st, 2019: deadline to submit abstracts (up to 150 words).
  • October 1st, 2019: communication of preliminary acceptance of abstracts.
  • January 1st, 2020: deadline to submit full papers.
  • June 1st, 2020: expected data of publication.

Articles should be approximately 6,000-8,000 words. Abstracts of 150 words are due for September 1st of 2019 (send it to one of the Special issue Editors, and full papers deadline is January 1st, 2020.


Cristóbal Cobo Romaní:

Director Center of Studies - Fundación Ceibal and associate researcher at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford. Doctor in Communication, Autonomous University of Barcelona. Coordinates studies on innovation and learning, knowledge translation, digital culture and the future of education. As a consultant, he collaborates in research for the European Commission (Horizon 2020). Cristóbal has been honored by the British Council of Economic and Social Research (ESRC). He was professor and director of Communications and New Technologies at FLACSO-Mexico. He has worked with academic and government institutions in more than 30 countries.

Pablo Rivera Vargas:

Department of Didactics and Educational Organization of the University of Barcelona. Researcher of the consolidated research group ESBRINA - Subjectivities, visualities and contemporary educational environments (2017 SGR 1248). Doctor in Education and Society, University of Barcelona (UB). Postdoctoral Research in Adult Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Visiting Professor Doctorate in Education and Society, Andrés Bello University (Chile). He is interested in public policies on digital inclusion, the impact of digital technologies in formal and non-formal educational contexts and studies in comparative education.

Licencia Creative Commons

ISSN 2013-9144


RCUBRCUBDeclaraci ticaAvs LegalCentre de Recursos per a l'Aprenentatge i la InvestigaciUniversitat de Barcelona