The datafication of discipline: ClassDojo, surveillance and a performative classroom culture

Year: 2018

Author: Manolev, Jamie, Sullivan, Anna, Slee, Roger

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

ClassDojo is one of the most popular and successful educational technologies used internationally in classrooms, boasting more than three million teachers and 35 million students as signed up users of the platform (Williamson, 2017). ClassDojo is a school based social media platform that incorporates a prominent gamified behaviour shaping function, providing school communities with a centralised digital space in which interaction between, and access to, the lives of school community members takes place. Research on ClassDojo is scant, however there are emerging concerns associated with its influence on education.
This paper critically examines the ways in which ClassDojo is altering the disciplinary landscape in schools through the datafication of discipline and student behaviour. Drawing on Foucault’s theory of disciplinary power and Ball’s conceptualisation of performativity, we analyse ClassDojo’s design features and describe how it is influencing classroom management practices within contemporary education. We argue that ClassDojo serves as a mechanism for controlling the behaviour of students, and promotes new ways in which to govern and organise students according to their behaviour performance. In particular, we argue that as a datafying system of school discipline, ClassDojo intensifies and normalises the surveillance of students. Performed student behaviours become a measure of productivity and a comparative display of student quality, promoting a performative classroom culture. Through such disciplinary techniques, students are made visible, calculable and intelligible through number, encouraging them to reconstruct understandings of themselves according to representations of behavioural success that counts.