Examining Philosophy of Technology Using Grounded Theory Methods


  • Mark David Webster J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College




grounded theory methods, semi-structured interview, questionnaire, critical realism, philosophy of technology, technological determinism, instrumental view of technology, technological optimism, technological imperative


A qualitative study was conducted to examine the philosophy of technology of K-12 technology leaders, and explore the influence of their thinking on technology decision making. The research design aligned with CORBIN and STRAUSS grounded theory methods, and I proceeded from a research paradigm of critical realism. The subjects were school technology directors and instructional technology specialists, and data collection consisted of interviews and a written questionnaire. Data analysis involved the use of grounded theory methods including memo writing, open and axial coding, constant comparison, the use of purposive and theoretical sampling, and theoretical saturation of categories. Three broad philosophy of technology views were widely held by participants: an instrumental view of technology, technological optimism, and a technological determinist perspective that saw technological change as inevitable. Technology leaders were guided by two main approaches to technology decision making, represented by the categories Educational goals and curriculum should drive technology, and Keep up with technology (or be left behind). The core category and central phenomenon that emerged was that technology leaders approached technology leadership by placing greater emphasis on keeping up with technology, being influenced by an ideological orientation to technological change, and being concerned about preparing students for a technological future.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs160252


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Author Biography

Mark David Webster, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Mark David WEBSTER, professor, is currently Vice President of Technology and Chief Information Officer for J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Virginia, USA. He received his Ph.D. in education, education technology management from Northcentral University in 2013. This article is based on his dissertation "Philosophy of Technology Assumptions in Educational Technology Leadership: Questioning Technological Determinism," which was published in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global in 2013 (http://www.slideshare.net/MarkWebsterPhD/mark-d-webster-dissertationpublishedproquest-57625783). His main research interests are educational technology leadership and philosophy of technology. His research methodology interests include grounded theory methodology and phenomenological research.




How to Cite

Webster, M. D. (2016). Examining Philosophy of Technology Using Grounded Theory Methods. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.2.2481



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