Re-imagining Digital Technology in Education through Critical and Neo-materialist Insights




Critical theory, feminist new materialism, digital technologies, education, imaginaries


Technological determinism, techno-solutionism and instrumental perspectives on technologies have populated educational research literature in the last decades, and even more since the pandemic crisis has started. This essay offers a critique about simplistic explanations of technology adoption in pedagogy by using insights from critical philosophy of technology and feminist new materialism. It rejects the assumption of teachers’ resistance to change and proposes a frame to expand future imaginaries of education. In this sense, critical studies provide a focus on human activity as interconnected with social and situated knowledges/practices. The emphasis is on recursive relations that allow educational researchers and practitioners to take into account the considerable complexity of digital technologies pedagogical adoption. On the other hand, feminist new materialism brings about a new focus on relational ontology, which adds to the critical theoretical framework the agentic element. By overcoming a binary way of seeing technologies through utopias and dystopias, new materialist studies focus on ethics and responsibility. We argue that we need both a critical and a neo-materialist view, in order to adopt technologies in education in meaningful, productive and creative ways. Building on small narratives and possible utopias can take us to re-design and re-interprete the future of educational technologies.

Author Biography

Magda Pischetola, IT University of Copenhagen

  • Researcher at IT University of Copenhagen - Department of Computer Science.
  • Former associate professor at PUC-Rio Brazil, Department of Education (2013-2020). Visiting professor at University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University CPH (2019).
  • Post-doctoral researcher at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Department of Communication (2012) 
  • PhD in Education at Universitá Cattolica di Milano (2010)


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