Situation: Implementation Change and Adoption – Developing a Plan

Situation:

The State School Superintendent, recently notified the county school superintendent the high school English program county scores are not meeting state standards, additional the state has recommended increasing integrating technology within the English curriculum and instruction.

You are an expert in technology development and recognize the merits and benefits technology integration into the curriculum including the use of blogs, wiki’s, social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter), and web design. Research studies have established the value of the innovative tools.

The superintendent asks for your assistance, in working with the English faculty members to increasing technology adoption into the standard curriculum. Faculty members are concerned because the test scores dropped, but they remain satisfied their current instructional methods are adequate. Several teachers, voicing their opinions, remain unsure that increasing and integrating technology within their curriculum will result in significant changes.

The superintendent goal is to raise the English performance scores, and recognizes a department effort is required. The superintendent has the three options (1) ‘to order’ faculty to change, (2) not act on the situation and allow the process to self correct, (3) work with the faculty members. Selecting the third option is preferred choice. The superintendent asks for a summary plan how will work with the faculty members in integrating existing technology innovation into the English instruction and curriculum. The superintendent is responsible to the elected Board of Education members.

Search for Relevant Theory:

          Theories are important, because they serve to influence how problems are perceived, defined, and how potential solutions are framed. Theories provide a conceptual framework for innovation and technology approaches that are already accepted. Theories draw on a broad range of disciplines. For this problem, it involves behavioral change (psychology and sociology) leadership and management (communication),

          Rogers (1995) work on diffusion offers and provides the best guidance. The diffusion and innovation theory is the most appropriate for investigating the adoption of technology into higher education and educational environments. (Medlin, 2001, Parisot, 1995, in Sahin 2006, p. 14).  There are four components required for diffusion theory, (1) the innovation, (2) communication, (3) time required and (4) a social system.

          Rogers (2003) states adoption is a decision of “full use of an innovation as the best course of actions available.” The decision not to adopt an innovation is rejection.

          This problem situation requires both technology and innovation adoption. Rogers describes innovation: “An innovation is an idea, practice or project that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.” (Rogers, 2003, p. 12)

          Rogers claims that reduce the uncertainty of innovation adoption or rejection it requires “that individuals be informed about its advantages and disadvantages to make them aware of all its consequences.” These consequences are desirable or undesirable, functional or dysfunctional, direct or indirection the results may be direct or anticipated. (In Sahin, 2006, p. 14)

          According to Rogers, the second element required for diffusion of innovation process is communication channels. Rogers describes communication as “a process in which participants create and share information with one another in to order to reach a mutual understanding.” (p. 5). Diffusion, according to Rogers, requires communication “that involves interpersonal communication relationships.” (Rogers, 2003, p. 19)

          The third requirement of diffusion theory is the element of time required to adopt. The final element of the diffusion theory is a social system. Rogers defines the social system “as a set of interrelated units engaged in the joint problem solving to accomplish a common goal.” (P. 23) Diffusion occurs within a social system, and the social system affects individuals.

          The innovation and decision process involves a five-step process, including knowledge phase, persuasion phrase, decision, implementation and confirmation phase. This five-step phase occurs through communication channels and social system.

          This problem requires the technology expert to manage change According to Dormant (1986) change models include four factors (1) the people are asked to be changed, (2) the change itself, (3) the context in which the change is proposed, (4) and context in which the change is proposed. (p. 239) Being cognizant of these factors is important because this is how the plan will be implmented. 

          Dormant synthesized Rogers’s five-step phrase process using management communication techniques. According to Dormant, the  individual moves through five adoption stages. These stages are a) awareness, b) self-concern, c) mental tryout, d) hands on trial, and e) adoption. To support user adoption, appropriate strategy must be utilized. The technical instructor is the change agent. For the change agent to be effective, it requires implementing an appropriate strategy supporting user adoption. These management, communication, or marketing strategies include a) advertiser, b) counseling, c) demonstrating, d) instruction, and e) providing technical assistance.

Adult Learning:

          Although new technologies or adopting innovations may not be better or worse for teaching and learning, the motivation for adopting innovaton  is driven by the needs of the learners. It is crucial that we recognize the context of the problem. Adopting for novelty sake is inadequate reason.  Improved efficiency offers a reason for adopting the innovation. Adoption must become practical and become relevant to the individual daily practice.

          Assessing the needs of the learners, in this case of adults, is a crucial stage in the educational and adopting process that will lead to change. Is becomes crucial to determine what the learners know, want to know, and are expected to learn. Using this assessment improves respect for the learner, and improves the chance for adopting the innovation. In the adoption process, it requires the learner to self-invest. Rogers uses four conditions for assessing knowledge, theses are 1) previous practice, 2) felt needs and problems, 3) innovations, 4) and normal of the social system. (In Sahin 2006, fig. 2.1, p. 15)

          Rogers’s five-step process and Dormant management five processes provides practical formal and informal communication channels. Different learning methods suit different adult learners. Recognize that learning is a both a personal and socialization process. Learning and diffusion occurs within a social system, and the social system affects how individuals learn and adopt innovation.

Summary:

          Theory provides a starting point, in designing and formalizing a professional improvement plan. For adult learners, it is crucial the individual internalize the need to adopt. They must identify their own learning needs as part of their own everyday instruction and teaching. For this problem, to make technology or innovation adoption meaningful it should be come from the learner, and not a superintendent requirement. For the learner, the technologist is an instructor, facilitator and resource.

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About frankohara

Instructional Design Technology student, enrolled at West Virginia University. Currently enrolled in Course work instructed by Ugar Kale, Ph.D, at West Virginia University. Current, Fall 2010, course work is IDT Issues and Trends.
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