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    Becoming information centric: the emergence of new cognitive infrastructures in education policy

    Sellar, Sam ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2840-5021 and Gulson, Kalervo N (2021) Becoming information centric: the emergence of new cognitive infrastructures in education policy. Journal of Education Policy, 36 (3). pp. 309-326. ISSN 0268-0939

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    New cognitive infrastructures are emerging as digital platforms and artificial intelligence enable new forms of automated thinking that shape human decision-making. This paper (a) offers a new theoretical perspective on automated thinking in education policy and (b) illustrates how automated thinking is emerging in one specific policy context. We report on a case study of a policy analysis unit (‘The Centre’) in an Australian state education department that has been implementing a BI strategy since 2013. The Centre is now focused on using BI to support complex decision making and improve learning outcomes, and their strategy describes this focus as becoming ‘information centric’.The theoretical framework for our analysis draws on infrastructure studies and philosophy of technology, particularly Luciana Parisi’s recent work on automated thinking. We analyse technical documentation and semi-structured interview data to describe the enactment of a BI strategy in The Centre, with a focus on how new approaches to data analytics are shaping decision-making. Our analysis shows that The Centre is developing a cognitive infrastructure that is already creating new conditions for education policy making, and we conclude with a call for research designs that enable pragmatic exploration of what these infrastructures can do.

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