School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Jerry Woodbridge


Artificial Intelligence, AI, Special Education, Teacher shortage, teacher turnover, technology, educational technology, Robotic teachers, hermeneutic phenomenology, phenomenology


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological research study was to understand district technology leaders’ receptivity to employing artificial co-teachers, based on their lived experiences with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Facing a problematic teacher shortage in special education, the Jade County School District was not readily employing available AI technologies such as IBM’s WATSON and MIT Media Lab’s TEGA, to aide in filling the instructional voids caused by special education teacher attrition. Veblen’s theory of technological determinism provided the necessary framework for this study, which focused on how district technology leaders described their willingness or apprehension to employ autonomous machines to independently instruct students with disabilities in the classroom. This research study was carried out in a large public-school district with a high number of special education teacher vacancies. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit 11 district-level technology leaders who were responsible for developing and sharing a vision for how new technology could be employed to support the needs of students. The principal researcher applied hermeneutic phenomenology to interpret data from photo-elicitations, audio-recorded focus groups, and individual interviews.