Educational Inequality and the Impossible Promise of E-Learning

Beyhan Farhadi Seminar Poster

Educational Inequality and the Impossible Promise of E-Learning

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 4:00pm
Beyhan Farhadi, NFC Doctoral Fellow 
VC102, Old Vic, 91 Charles st. West

This talk will present findings from a 10-month long ethnographic study on electronically delivered instruction (e-Learning) in the Toronto District School Board. Set against the promise e-Learning makes to democratize schooling, and in so doing alleviate educational inequality, results of the study highlight greater disparity in access, not only in the offering of courses, most of which are university preparation, but also geographically, since students taking e-Learning are concentrated in areas of the city with greater learning opportunities. Rather than frame the research problem as one which solely emerges out of a ‘global’ organization of economies, Beyhan also considers the cultural and political systems through which social stratification is legitimated through the nation-state in formal systems of schooling. By drawing on participant observation in seven e-Learning classrooms and 90 interviews with students, parents, administrators, and teachers, Beyhan will illustrate the effects of the impossible promise of e-Learning on student identity, whose emergence is conditioned by entrepreneurial aspiration and a neoliberal imaginary of educational reform. 

Beyhan Farhadi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning. Her dissertation research, which was inspired by her work teaching at the secondary level, investigates how the provision of electronically delivered instruction is affecting inequalities in education and shaping student identity in high schools across the Toronto District School Board. She has also published on narratives of safety and the work of place-making on social media, identity in the city, and is currently in the final stages of co-editing a special issue for Emotion, Space, and Society on the politics of desire.