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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Ben Williamson Seminar

Published: 25 October 2017
Web Science Institute
Web Science Institute

The Web Science Institute was delighted to host a seminar with Dr Ben Williamson here at the University of Southampton on 25 October 2017.

Dr Williamson is a lecturer and researcher in the areas of education technology and policy. His recent research has focused on digital data in educational policy and practice, the role of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture philanthropists in education reform, and on the cross-sector policy networks that introduced computer science and coding into the school curriculum. His book, Big Data in Education: The Digital Future of Learning, Policy and Practice was published in 2017 by Sage.

His talk entitled 'The hidden architecture of Higher Education: building a big data infrastructure for the ‘smarter university’ focused on a major active data infrastructure project in Higher Education—the Data Futures project being undertaken by the Higher Education Statistics Agency—which is designed to allow ‘big data’ to flow around the system. The social, technical and political networks of organizations and actors involved in building the new big data infrastructure will be mapped, as well as the spectacular dashboards and visual analytics technologies being trialled to allow data to be presented graphically, and the ‘boring’ standards and network sockets that will allow the data to transfer seamlessly between interoperable software platforms. Data Futures indicates how Higher Education is being reimagined through the utopian ideal of the ‘smarter university’ and how the ‘hidden architecture’ of infrastructure acts as a material instantiation and enactment of political objectives to reform the HE sector.


You can read more about his talk here in a blog written by Sarah Hewitt.


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