School districts are adopting educational technology products at an increasing rate over the years. As more and more products become available, school districts face the challenge of identifying and evaluating programs to meet students’ needs, while ed-tech providers compete for access to decision makers. The present mixed methods study sought to document the process by which school districts discover, evaluate, and acquire ed-tech products and how vendors market and work through this process with districts. Participants included district stakeholders representing 54 school districts and vendors from 47 ed-tech companies. Results indicated that, in contrast to best practices, needs assessments were rarely, if at all conducted, districts and vendors lack a central source of information for product information and evidence of effectiveness, and decisions are often made on small-scale pilot tryouts, peer references, and less often by examining rigorous evaluation evidence. Based on these findings, we offer recommendations for both district and vendor stakeholders to encourage successful procurement of ed-tech products.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adkins, S. S. (2018). Global edtech investment surges to a record $9.5 billion in 2017. Retrieved from Metaari website: http://metaari.com/whitepapers.html.
Anthony, A. B. (2012). Activity theory as a framework for investigating district-classroom system interactions and their influences on technology integration. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 44(4), 335–356.
Ashley, S. R. (2009). Innovation diffusion: Implications for evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 24, 35–45.
Bork, A. (1987). Learning with personal computers. New York: Harper & Row.
Burch, P., & Good, A. (2015). More important than the contract is the relationship. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(5), 35–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721715569467.
Cavanagh, S. (2018). New ‘Education Exchange’ will pay teachers for reviews of ed-tech products. Edweek Market Brief. Retrieved from https://marketbrief.edweek.org/.
Cheung, A. C. K., & Slavin, R. E. (2011). The effectiveness of education technology for enhancing mathmatics achievement: A meta-analysis. Retrieved from http://www.bestevidence.org/reading/tech/tech.html.
Cheung, A. C. K., & Slavin, R. E. (2012). The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing reading achievement in k-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis. Retrieved from http://www.bestevidence.org/word/tech_read_April_25_2012.pdf.
Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering the research on media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445–459.
Cole, M., & Engeström, Y. (1993). A cultural-historical approach to distributed cognition. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 1–46). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010a). Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org.
Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010b). Common Core State Standards for mathematics. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org.
Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). (2015). Framework of essential skills of the K-12 CTO. Retrieved from http://www.cosn.org/Framework.
Dagenais, C., Lysenko, L., Abrami, P. C., Bernard, R. M., Ramde, J., & Janosz, M. (2012). Use of research-based information by school practitioners and determinants of use: A review of empirical research. The Policy Press, 8(3), 285–309. https://doi.org/10.1332/174426412X654031.
Davies, P. (1999). What is evidence-based education? British Journal of Educational Studies, 47(2), 108–121.
Denzin, N. K. (1989). The Research Act (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Dexter, S. (2008). Leadership for IT in schools. In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (Eds.), International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education (pp. 543–554). New York: Springer.
Dyrli, O. E. (2007). District buying power 2007. District Administration. Retrieved from https://www.districtadministration.com.
Ely, D. P. (1990). Conditions that facilitate the implementation of educational technology innovations. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23(2), 298–305. https://doi.org/10.1080/08886504.1990.10781963.
Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.
Flanagan, L., & Jacobsen, M. (2003). Technology leadership for the twenty-first century principal. Journal of Educational Administration, 41(2), 124–142.
Flick, U. (1992). Triangulation revisited: Strategy of or alternative to validation of qualitative data. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 22, 175–197.
Flick, U. (2014). An introduction to qualitative research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CS: Sage Publications Inc.
Fullan, M. (1985). Curriculum implementation. In T. Husen & N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (pp. 1208–1215). London: Pergamon Press.
Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Company.
Gowdy, J. M., & Mayumi, K. (2001). Reformulating the foundations of consumer choice theory and environmental valuation. Ecological Economics, 39(2), 223–237. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(01)00197-5.
Herold, B. (2016). Technology in education: An overview. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org.
Hulleman, C. S., Burke, R. A., May, M., Charania, M., & Daniel, D. B. (2017). Merit or marketing?: Evidence and quality of efficacy research in educational technology companies. White paper produced by Working Group D for the EdTech Academic Efficacy Symposium. University of Virginia: Charlottesville, VA.
Kaufman, R., Rojas, A. M., & Mayer, H. (1993). Needs assessment: A user’s guide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Kelly, A. E., Lesh, R. A., & Baek, J. Y. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of design research methods in education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Knowlton, J. Q. (1964). A conceptual scheme for the audiovisual field. Bulletin of the School of Education Indiana University, 40(3), 1–44.
Koufaris, M. (2002). Applying the technology acceptance model and flow theory to online consumer behavior. Information Systems Research, 13(2), 205–223.
Leont’ev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Levy, H. (2013). Why schools make bad buying decisions: What needs to be done to fix procurement. Retrieved from edSurge website: https://www.edsurge.com.
Morrison, G. (1994). The media effects question: “Unresolvable” or asking the right question. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 41–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299090.
Morrison, J. R., & Ross, S. M. (2015). Results of the cohort 2 short-cycle evaluation challenge. Towson, MD: Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University.
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. R., Morrison, J. R., & Kalman, H. K. (in press). Designing effective instruction (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Newman, D., Jaciw, A. P., & Lazarev, V. (2017). Guidelines for conducting and reporting EdTech impact research in U.S. K-12 schools. Report produced by Empirical Education for the Education Technology Industry Network of The Software & Information Industry Association. Retrieved from Empirical Education website: https://www.empiricaleducation.com/pdfs/guidelines.pdf.
Owusu, T. (2016). Ed tech: Schools face challenges in procuring the future. Real Money. Retrieved from https://realmoney.thestreet.com/.
Penuel, W. R., Briggs, D. C., Davidson, K. L., Herlihy, C., Sherer, D., Hill, H. C., … Allen, A.-R. (2016). Findings from a national study on research use among school and district leaders (Technical Report No. 1). Retrieved from the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice website: http://ncrpp.org/assets/documents/NCRPP_Technical-Report-1_National-Survey-of-Research-Use.pdf.
Rackham, N. (1973). Recent thoughts on evaluation. Industrial and Commercial Training, 5(10), 454–461.
Radlick, M. S. (1998). Hardware, software, vaporware, and wetware: A cautionary tale for superintendents (pp. 237–266). In R. R. Spillane & P. Regnier (Eds.), The superintendent of the future: Strategy and actions for achieving academic excellence. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.
Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Salomon, G., & Clark, R. E. (1977). Reexamining the methodology of research on media and technology in education. Review of Educational Research, 47(1), 99–120. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543047001099.
Thaler, R. (1980). Toward a positive theory of consumer choice. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 1(1), 39–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-2681(80)90051-7.
U.S. Department of Education. (2009). Guidance on Enhancing Education through Technology (Ed Tech) Program Funds Made Available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/edtech/guidance-arra.doc.
U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology: National Educational Technology Plan 2010. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED512681.pdf.
This study was funded by a contract from Digital Promise.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
See Table 2.
About this article
Cite this article
Morrison, J.R., Ross, S.M. & Cheung, A.C.K. From the market to the classroom: how ed-tech products are procured by school districts interacting with vendors. Education Tech Research Dev 67, 389–421 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09649-4
- Educational technology
- Technology integration