The Techification of Education in Ontario’s Virtual Schools


  • RUTH NIELSEN University of Western Ontario


In Ontario, Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the creation of publicly funded virtual schools for K-12, synchronous remote learning. Going into the 3rd year of operations, many of these schools are transitioning into permanent learning options. Using a critical theoretical lens, this paper presents my preliminary findings from my doctoral research examining principals’ leadership practices in these virtual schools. The qualitative interviews conducted in Spring 2022 reveal an emerging trend towards the techification of education, a phenomenon where Big Tech becomes enmeshed in all parts of education. The results of my study show that virtual schools increasingly rely on Google/Alphabet products in ways that may place schools as training grounds for lifetime consumer loyalty and exacerbate existing inequities. I investigate this problem from the school principals’ perspectives, as they are the mediators between policy and practice. Finally, I offer suggestions for how to mediate the techification of education at both the principal and policy levels.

Author Biography

RUTH NIELSEN, University of Western Ontario

Ruth Nielsen is a PhD candidate in University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Education, Critical Policy, Equity, and Leadership Studies and an Ontario Graduate Scholar. My doctoral research focuses on how Ontario high-school principals understand and promote equity in virtual schooling. My research interests are technology, virtual schooling, educational leadership, equity, social justice, and critical theory.






Research Study/Recherche