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The Confluence of K12 Education Technology Leadership

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Listen and learn : Research paper
Roundtable presentation

Saturday, December 5, 9:00–9:45 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Presentation 2 of 2
Other presentations:
Examining the Role of Learning Presence in Online and Blended Courses

Dr. Devery Rodgers  
The success of school district technology initiatives sometimes rest on the politics of education technology structures within the organization. A study was conducted with senior level technology administrators in over 30 school districts to explore how the confluence of EdTech and IT departments affect the realization of technology initiatives.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Curriculum/district specialists, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: none
Topic: Leadership
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Systems Designer
  • Lead teams to collaboratively establish robust infrastructure and systems needed to implement the strategic plan.
Related exhibitors:
District Administration

Proposal summary


As the researcher was in a job-embedded role, discovering the most promising practices for leading a public school district in education technology, this study is born on grounded theory. This inductive reasoning approach was balanced by the ecological systems theory for human resources and activity theory as a framework for the qualitative analysis.


This topic was explored through two focus groups and 32 interviews. The focus groups were made up of technology professionals: one information technologists, one instructional technologists, and the last mixed. There are two major professional organizations for K12 education technologists: CETPA and CUE. The Computer Education Technology Professionals’ Association (CETPA) is a body primarily for the information technology professionals in K12 education. Computer-Using Educators (CUE) is a body primarily for instructional technology professionals. Two focus groups were hosted with each during affiliate meetings. Interviews were held with 32 members of public school districts’ executive bodies; eighteen were education technology professionals, thirteen were information technology professionals, and two were Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources.

This study sought to obtain the most promising practices for education technology leadership within K12 school districts. The following were the research questions:
*How has your district organized technology services to support students and staff? (What is the human resources structure of support?)
*What contributes to the structure?
*What is your role? How long have you operated in your role?
*Who do you supervise? What is the role of the person who directly supervises you?
*What is the best thing about this role positioning?
*What is the worst thing about this role positioning?
*Would you make any changes to the structure? How? Why/why not?


Correlational analysis shows that the most optimal environment for the support of education technology in a school district, is to have an instructional technology leader with an informational technology background, or an information technologist with an instructional background, housed in educational services. Where there were two separate departments, equal voice under educational services is optimal. Where there is one department, and one serves the other, it was found that an instructional technology leader (with service of information technology) brought more cohesiveness to the district.

It matters which department (i.e., Education Services, Instructional Services, Business Services) holds the position(s).
It matters how the district departments are structured.
It matters if the Technology Lead sits on Cabinet.
It matters which role (i.e. Information Technology or Instructional Technology) has the primary authority.


As school districts struggle with better ways to structure staff--for financial purposes and the most educational impact, the findings from this study come into play. Every school district and large K12 school system would want to consider the factors examined and findings surfaced. Careful consideration of this study will give empirical evidence for considering human resources structure of education technology leadership.


Knee, R. (1995). Factors Limiting Technology Integration in Education: The Leadership Gap. In J. Willis, B. Robin & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 1995--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 556-560). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 29, 2019 from

McLeod, S., Richardson, J. W., & Sauers, N. J. (2015). Leading technology-rich school districts: Advice from tech-savvy superintendents. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 10(2), 104–126.

Meyer, J.W. and Scott, W. R. (1992). Organizational environments: Ritual and rationality. Sage Publications, Inc. Newman, D. (1992). Technology as support for school structure and school restructuring. Phi Delta Kappan, 74(4), pp. 308-315.

Reay, T. and Hinings, C.R. (2009). Managing the rivalry of competing institutional logics. SAGE Publications, pp. 629-652.

Richardson, Jayson W.; Sterrett, William L.. Educational Administration Quarterly; OCT 2018; 54; 4; pp. 589-616.

Schrum, L., Galizio, L., & Ledesma, P. (2011). Educational leadership and technology integration: An investigation into preparation, experiences, and roles. Journal of School Leadership, 21(2), 241–261.

Webster, Mark David; Journal of Educational Technology & Society, Vol 20(1), Jan, 2017 pp. 25-36.

Zhao, Y., & Frank, K. A. (2003). Factors Affecting Technology Uses in Schools: An Ecological Perspective. American Educational Research Journal, 40(4), 807–840.

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Dr. Devery Rodgers, California State University, Long Beach

Dr. Dev has been impacting education for over 20 years. She is engaged in a deep and long-term exploration of the application of the tenets, tools, and methods towards performance improvement in education. Having taught at all levels of education, her experiences build on her goal to promote a quality education for all students.

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