Dr Michael Gallagher

Lecturer in Digital Education


I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, and a member of the Centre for Research in Digital Education. My research interests include critical studies on digital education in development contexts, and the implications of such thinking for educational mobility. My published work includes critical perspectives on educational technologies (AI, MOOCs, mobile technology, ICT4D); the mobilities of digital education students; educational futures, and international frameworks for educational development (SDGs, New Urban Agenda, and more) and their impact on educational autonomy.

At the University of Edinburgh, I work on several Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) projects around digital education in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda) and potential impacts on inclusion, as well as the Near Futures Teaching project, the Distance Learning at Scale project, and was formerly part of the NERC Research for Emergency Aftershock Response project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Korea for many years. I am also a Director and Co-Founder of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT4D. I work often with INGOs on digital education projects mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

My research focuses on the critical examination of the mobilities exhibited by groups and sectors in flux and how technology is used to both structure and manage these mobilities. Post-Brexit, with greater concentrations of international students and refugees, with the unbundling of labour and education, with a global edtech regime emerging in developing contexts largely unmooring local educational expertise and displacing higher education as a vehicle for social mobility, this research focuses on frameworks to investigate these movements holistically and to begin to address the larger intractable challenges that may stunt educational progress in development contexts. I routinely employ mobilities research and sociomateriality to identify “the distribution of agency between people, places, and material assemblages of connectivity” (Sheller, 2017) and the role digital education might serve in an increasingly unbundled intersectional educational environment.

I have consulted on several research and educational design projects, including the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus, where I worked on their open courses, conducted research on open learning and digital education,  and contributed to learning analytics and course design. I am also on the Advisory Council of Beni American University in Nigeria. I am a Fellow in the Higher Education Academy (HEA), in keeping with the requirements of the UK Professional Standards Framework.


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PhD: University College London, Education

MSc: University of Edinburgh, Digital Education

MSc: Drexel University, Information Science

BSc: Wright State University, Education

Responsibilities & affiliations

Faculty on the MSc in Digital Education

Centre for Research in Digital Education, University of Edinburgh

Digital Education Research Cluster

Advisory Council Member: Beni American University (Nigeria)

Higher Education Academy: Teaching Fellow

Postgraduate teaching

I teach on the MSc in Digital Education at Moray House School of Education and Sport.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome enquiries about PhD supervision in the following areas:

  1. Critical studies of educational technology in developing contexts/emerging economies
  2. Critical studies on broadening access to higher education for marginalised groups in developing contexts, particularly for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and women.
  3. Critical studies of the intersections of national policy, global indicators of educational development (SDGs, etc.), technology, and educational autonomy in developing contexts.

Research summary

My research interests include critical mobilities research in digital education in development contexts and the implications of such thinking for educational mobility. My published work includes critical perspectives on educational technologies (AI, MOOCs, mobile technology); the mobilities of digital education students; and educational futures. I work largely in ICT4D, with a particular focus on inclusion and gender in digital education.

Current research interests

digital futures, digital education in low resource contexts, mobilities, ICT4D, policy, SDGs,

Knowledge exchange

Recent presentations, seminars, and knowledge exchange events include the following:

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

  • PI on GCRF Theme Development Fund: Digital Education in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda project
  • GCRF Theme Development Fund: Migration in Latin America
  • GCRF Theme Development Fund: Universal Secondary Education in the Asia-Pacific Region
  • Near Future Teaching project
  • Distance Learning at Scale (DLAS) project
  • PI on Exploring the Teacher Function: Designing Interventions in Automated Teaching project
  • Creating Refugee Access to Tertiary Education through Blended Learning: An Action Research Approach 
  • Foundations for All, Mastercard Foundation
  • Co-I on A Learning Analytics Approach to Micromasters (PTAS funded) project
  • Hacking the Distance Learning Experience: Student-led technology development

Current project grants

GCRF Theme Development Fund: Digital Education and Social Justice in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda (2019-2020)