PhD Position in Critical Educational Technology Research
Catholic University of Leuven

This PhD project is situated in two research environments: the Methodology of Educational Sciences Research Group (MESRG, KU Leuven) and the Centre for Research in Digital Education (Edinburgh University). In the MESRG, we are devising innovative ways to research the digitization of education in a qualitative manner. We study various digital phenomena such as digital data infrastructures, digital education platforms, apps, and newly emerging digital education models such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schools. In Edinburgh, our research adopts social science methods and theory to analyze emerging developments such as commercial edtech, the use of data analytics in education policy, and the role of intermediary organizations such as investors, philanthropies, consultancies and think tanks in the promotion of edtech.


Recently, a new kind of organization has appeared on the education technology landscape. Education technology ‘brokers’ (e.g., Fourcast for Education; AdEPT) are organizations that connect the commercial edtech industry and state schools, staffed by new experts of evaluation and decision-making. 

Edtech brokers represent a new type of ‘evidence intermediary’ that can cross borders between the private edtech industry and the state education sector. They have significant influence to shape how schools choose and use educational technologies, as well as to affect the dynamics of the edtech market. In doing so, they act as catalytic change agencies advising schools on digital transformation. However, little is known about the aims or practical techniques of these organizations, or their concrete effects on schools. They are ‘black boxes’ that need opening up for greater attention by researchers and educators.

The aim of this international research project is to open up this black box of edtech brokering by performing qualitative field work in Belgium and the UK. As a doctoral researcher, you will examine and conceptualize edtech brokerage as part of a transnational policy agenda to embed edtech in education, the operations of brokers in specific national contexts, and their practical influences on schools. 

More information about the project is available here.


  • You have obtained (or will obtain this summer) a Master’s degree in the field of Education, Sociology, Anthropology, or any other related field that includes a strong focus on the ongoing digitization of society 
  • You have distinguished yourself during your studies 
  • You are passionate about international research and consider working in two countries as an asset 
  • You can work independently and have a natural critical orientation  
  • You are willing to contribute to the research lines of both research centers, and you have a strong interest in the research topic 
  • Your aim is to develop a strong academic publication record, and you are prepared to communicate broadly about your research (via popularizing articles, on social media, …)
  • You demonstrate excellent academic and research skills (such as experience with academic writing)
  • You have strong communication skills in English (oral and written). Proficiency in Dutch is considered an asset, but not required
  • You are willing to provide some teaching assistance to members of the faculty


The study will lead to a joint PhD degree in Educational Sciences from KU Leuven and Edinburgh University, supervised by Mathias Decuypere (Leuven) and Ben Williamson (Edinburgh). As a PhD student, you will have every opportunity to develop yourself further in your professional career, by interacting with leading researchers from multiple disciplines, attending seminars and workshops, and participating in international conferences.

The position offers flexibility and the opportunity to work in an enthusiastic team in a stimulating multicultural environment in two countries. Your research will be highly international, and you will work both in Leuven and in Edinburgh. Last but not least, your research will contribute to fast developments in education that have a high societal impact.

We offer a full-time appointment (initially for 1 year, but conditionally on a positive evaluation extended to 4 years). In addition to a competitive salary, we offer a number of additional advantages, such as the possibility of flexible working, hospitalization insurance, eco-vouchers, reimbursement for commuting by public transport, inexpensive meals, a KU Leuven bicycle, etc.

The candidate should preferably start the new position from October 2021 onwards (a later starting date is negotiable).


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Mathias Decuypere, tel.: +32 16 37 30 43, mail:

Your application should contain at least the following documents: 

- A detailed curriculum vitae (including information about the obtained degrees throughout your educational trajectory) 

- A motivation letter that demonstrates your skills as a researcher (m/f/x), and explains your interest in this topic and in pursuing a PhD degree 

- A research plan of max. 1.000 words, in which you draw a concrete research plan for the edtech brokers project, and discuss how you would design your study   

- The contact details of at least two references (including a short description of your relationship with this person)

Job interviews are planned on July 27 and July 28. 

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 30, 2021
  • Tags: Pedagogische wetenschappen

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