Conceptualizing the Intersections of Time, Data and Practices in Educational Organizations

Berit Karseth, Ronni Laursen, Ruth Jensen

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


There are ranges of natural timescales in education settings, such as semesters, school days, and lessons (Lemke, 2001). In the process of establishing a suitable rhythm of time in institutions, temporal patterns for participation emerge and become known to managers, teachers, and students. Such patterns are utilized by politicians and local authorities to bolster efficiency and standardization (Ball, 2013; Gilbert, 2021). Recent research has demonstrated that digital tools are used to enhance students’ learning through ‘learnification’ programs (Ball & Grimaldi, 2022). Using such programs may involve data surveillance and data use to accelerate the individual students learning progress (Ball & Grimaldi, 2022; Manolev et al., 2019). In the present study, we aim to conceptualize how time management and data use through a learning management system (LMS) play out in the situated practices of teachers, school managers, and administrators. The analysis is inspired by the original Foucauldian concepts of discipline, power, surveillance and governmentality and recent development related to education (Ball, 2013; Ball & Grimaldi, 2022; Foucault, 1979, 2010; Manolev et al., 2019; Peters, 2007). Thus, we analyze how the LMS is enacted in managers’ and teachers’ practices and how the LMS discipline and shapes managers’ and teachers’ time management and data use through its design. Denmark is an exciting context for analysis because using an LMS was made mandatory enactment for all primary and secondary public schools since the school year 2016/17 (KL, 2015). Furthermore, the case is interesting, because policy analysis (Laursen, 2022) has revealed a political vision of data use and time efficiency. The empirical case for the present study draws on 31 interviews with teachers, school managers and administrators. The managers, administrators and teachers were employed at four schools situated in three municipalities. Our main argument is that the combination of the specific enactment and the architecture of surveillance disciplines managers’ and teachers’ practices to be in accordance with the political vision related to the benefits of using the platform. Furthermore, the collection of data offers enhancements of the optimization of individual students’ schooling. The process also automates the teachers’ work in time structures. In that respect, our analysis demonstrates that the discipline of practice underpins standardization, leaving little room for professional judgment. The paper seeks to contribute to the critical educational literature by showing how to think with Foucauldian concepts in relation to empirical data to go beyond the immediate reality in a given data set
Original languageEnglish
Publication date8 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023
EventECER, 2023 - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Aug 202325 Aug 2023


ConferenceECER, 2023
LocationUniversity of Glasgow
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Conceptualizing the Intersections of Time, Data and Practices in Educational Organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this