A spectrum of surveillance: Charting functions of epistemic inequality across EdTech platforms in the post-COVID-19 era


  • Matthew A. Vetter Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Zachary J. McDowell University of Illinois at Chicago, USA


COVID-19 pandemic, Educational Technology, Learning Management System, LMS, Commons-Based Peer Production, OER, OEP, Wikipedia


Covid-19 and the public health policies emerging in response have laid bare a multiplicity of issues related to educational access and knowledge equity on a global scale. Among these, the quick shift to online and hybrid education models led teachers to adapt a plethora of digital platforms to deliver content and sponsor interactions). Such platforms range from institutionally sanctioned (and subscribed) Learning Management Systems (LMSs) to software provided by organizations beyond the institution and can pose a threat to student data and privacy. Data surveillance in educational contexts is not a new issue, nor is it only a strictly digital problem. However, the current milieu of constant and continuing public health crises has led to more frequent, uncritical, and hurried adoption of learning technologies. This article challenges professionals in higher education specifically to take a more critical look at the various EdTech platforms they are, have, and will adopt in the post-COVID-19 era, and the spectrum of surveillance such platforms enact. Through a review of common entities such as LMSs, Google Workspace for Education, and Zoom video conferencing software, this article demonstrates how these technologies place both teachers and students in a relationship to data and learning characterised by “epistemic inequality” or “unequal access to learning imposed by private commercial mechanisms''. By taking a closer look at the problematic surveillance functioning across EdTech, this article makes a case for Commons-based Peer Production communities as equitable, open educational alternatives that have resisted market-based neoliberalism and surveillance capitalism.


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How to Cite

A spectrum of surveillance: Charting functions of epistemic inequality across EdTech platforms in the post-COVID-19 era. (2023). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 20(2). https://open-publishing.org/journals/index.php/jutlp/article/view/630