Educational Technology Decision-Making: A Case Study on Technology Acquisition for 746,000 Ontario Students
Very little research has examined K–12 educational technology decision-making in Canada. This collective case study explores the technology procurement process in Ontario’s publicly funded school districts to determine if it is informed by the relevant research, grounded in best practices, and enhances student learning. Using a qualitative approach, 10 senior leaders (i.e., chief information officers, superintendents, etc.) were interviewed. A combination of open-ended and closed-ended questions were used to reveal the most important factors driving technology acquisition, research support, governance procedures, data use, and assessment and return on investment (ROI) measures utilized by school districts in their implementation of educational technology. After participants were interviewed, the data were transcribed, member checked, and then submitted to “Computer-assisted NCT analysis” (Friese, 2014) using ATLAS.ti. The findings show that senior leaders are making acquisitions that are not aligned with current scholarship and not with student learning as the focus. It was also determined that districts struggle to use data-driven decision-making to support the governance of educational technology spending. Finally, the results showed that districts do not have effective assessment measures in place to determine the efficacy or ROI of a purchased technology. Although data are limited to the responses of 10 senior leaders, findings represent the technology leadership for approximately 746,000 Ontario students. The study is meant to serve as an informative resource for senior leaders and presents strategic and research-validated approaches to technology procurement. Further, the study has the potential to refine technology decision-making, policies, and practices in K–12 education.