Artificial Intelligence in Education

Big Data, Black Boxes, and Technological Solutionism




Artificial Intelligence, Learning Analytics, Persuasive Technologies, Educational Contexts, Techno, Technology-Enhanced Learning


Digital technology is constantly permeating and transforming all social systems, and education is not an exception. In the last decade, the unstoppable development of Artificial Intelligence, based on machine learning algorithms and fuelled by Big Data, has given a new push to the hope of improving learning-based machines, and providing educational systems with ‘effective’ solutions. Educators, educational researchers and policymakers, in general, lack the knowledge and expertise to understand the underlying logic of these new ‘black boxes’, and we do not have sufficient research-based evidence to understand the consequences that an excessive use of screens has in students’ development. This paper first discusses the notions behind what Big Data is and what it means in our current society; how data is the new currency that has driven the use of algorithms in all areas of our society, and specifically in the field of Artificial Intelligence; and the concept of ‘black boxes’, and its possible impact on education. Then, it discusses the underlying educational discourses, pointing out the need to analyse not only their contributions but also their possible negative effects. It finishes with considerations and a proposed agenda for further studying this phenomenon.

Author Biographies

Xavier Giró Gràcia, University of Barcelona

Xavier Giró Gràcia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. He is part of the research group ESBRINA – Contemporary, Subjectivities, Visualities and Educational Environments ( from the Faculty of Education of the University of Barcelona. He has participated in numerous European and national projects in the fields of inclusion, use of digital technologies in education, learning in online communities, and teacher training. His main interests lay in digital technologies and their impact in society, the ethics of computer science, and the impact of video games as a cultural phenomenon, as well as their use in education.

Juana M. Sancho-Gil , University of Barcelona

Juana M. Sancho-Gil is emeritus professor of Educational Technologies in the Faculty of Education of the University of Barcelona. She was coordinator of the research group ESBRINA – Contemporary, Subjectivities, Visualities and Educational Environments (, and of REUNI+D – University Network for Educational Research and Innovation. Social Change and Challenges for Education in the Digital Age ( She has extensive experience in promoting research policy, advising research programmes and projects, and assessing and managing research projects at regional, national, and international level. From her passion for education and research, she contributes to building bridges between theory and practice, research, and action, while helping to rethink discourses and visions about the meaning of education in today's world. ORCID: 0000-0002-2941-5619.

Xavier Giró Gràcia and Juana M. Sancho-Gil




How to Cite

Giró Gràcia, X., & Sancho-Gil , J. M. . (2021). Artificial Intelligence in Education: Big Data, Black Boxes, and Technological Solutionism., 17(2).