Learning Analytics and the Abolitionist Imagination


  • Shea Swauger University of Colorado Denver
  • Remi Kalir University of Colorado Denver




learning analytics, abolition, justice, speculative futures, power, research paper


This article advances an abolitionist reframing of learning analytics (LA) that explores the benefits of productive disorientation, considers potential harms and care made possible by LA, and suggests the abolitionist imagination as an important educational practice. By applying abolitionist concepts to LA, we propose it may be feasible to open new critiques and social futures that build toward equity-oriented LA design and implementation. We introduce speculative methods to advance three vignettes imagining how LA could be weaponized against students or transformed into a justice-directed learning tool. Our speculative methods aim to destabilize where power in LA has been routinely located and contested, thereby opening new lines of inquiry about more equitable educational prospects. Our concluding discussion addresses how speculative design and fiction are complementary methods to the abolitionist imagination and can be pragmatic tools to help build a world with fairer, more equitable, and responsible LA technologies.


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How to Cite

Swauger, S., & Kalir, R. (2023). Learning Analytics and the Abolitionist Imagination. Journal of Learning Analytics, 10(1), 101-112. https://doi.org/10.18608/jla.2023.7813



Special Section on Fairness, Equity, and Responsibility in Learning Analytics