The Great Online Migration. Covid-19 and the Virtualization of American Public Schools, Marion Fourcade (University of California, Berkeley)
26 April 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic has been associated with the accelerated deployment of the virtual economy. As societies protected themselves from contagion by limiting interpersonal interactions, a wide range of activities - education, work, social relations, learning, spirituality, leisure, business and politics - quickly reassembled in distancing mode. And as the pandemic stretched out from weeks to months to over a year, these reorganizations started to look permanent.
This conference by Marion Fourcade will explore this “great online migration” through the prism of the virtualization of public schools in the United States. Elementary and secondary schools (or K-12 in American jargon) offer a particularly useful vantage point for analyzing the promises, failures and long-term implications of the digital switchover forced by the onset of the pandemic. Not only have these institutions found themselves at the center of controversies over the legitimacy of lockdowns, but the transition to “distance learning” has been particularly radical and difficult. Finally, the schools’ transformation during this period reveals the growing dependence of public services on technology providers, which strive not only to service new needs, but also to reinvent them in their own image.