Learning, Technology and Educational Transformation

Examining the Ed. Tech. Metamorphosis:
Emerging Butterfly or Deleterious Root Worm?

Page Contents:
Adoption and Diffusion of Innovations

What are the stages that teachers go through as they learn about and adopt these innovative applications of technology?

General stage models of adoption:

There are a number of Important adoption models. I will focus on two of the most important works in the field.

1. Rogers' "Diffusion of Innovations" (1960, 1995). His Innovation Decision Process Theory proposes that there are five distinct stages to the process of diffusion. The stages are:

  1. Knowledge - when the person or group begins to learn and know about a new innovation
  2. Persuasion - the person begins to form attitudes through interactions with others
  3. Decision - there is a drive to seek additional information and a decision is made
  4. Implementation - as regular use is attempted more information is sought
  5. Confirmation - Continued use is justified or rejected based on the evidence of benefits or drawbacks

2. Hall and Loucks' (1979) Concerns-Based Adoption Model is useful in explaining the lack of teacher investment in innovations, and describes the seven levels of concern that teachers experience as they adopt a new practice: (NCREL)

  1. Awareness - Teachers have little concern or involvement with the innovation.
  2. Informational- Teachers have a general interest in the innovation and would like to know more about it.
  3. Personal- Teachers want to learn about the personal ramifications of the innovation. They question how the innovation will affect them.
  4. Management- Teachers learn the processes and tasks of the innovation. They focus on information and resources.
  5. Consequence- Teachers focus on the innovation's impact on students.
  6. Collaboration- Teachers cooperate with other teachers in implementing the innovation.
  7. Refocusing- Teachers consider the benefits of the innovation and think of additional alternatives that might work even better.

See an alternative representation of these stages of concern by Barry Sweeny

Rogers' (1995) Individual Innovativeness Theory suggests that individuals react differently to change based on a stable trait or predisposition. He has developed a classification scheme of potential adopters based on their receptivity. The figure below is a visual representation of these data.

  • Innovators - the risk takers willing to take the initiative and time to try something new
  • Early Adopters - tend to be respected group leaders, the individuals essential to adoption by whole group.
  • Early Majority - the careful, safe, deliberate individuals unwilling to risk time or other resources
  • Late Majority - those suspect of or resistant to change. Hard to move without significant influence
  • Laggards - these are those who are consistent or even adamant in resisting change. Pressure needed to force change.

    Bell shaped curve representing Rogers' (1995) findings on categories of individual level of innovation with percentages for each category.

Evert Rogers, (1995). Diffusion of Innovations 6 perceived features of the tech that largely determine its acceptance. (Here tech is the focus not so much the environment or the external conditions). STORC

  • S - Simplicity vs. complexity of the innovation
  • T - Trialability, Is there a chance to test or demo the tech with the ability to revers the adoption
  • O - Observability. Is there a chance to see how the innovation works for others and observe the consequences?
  • R - Relative advantage. Is this innovation truly better than what it is replacing. Cheaper, faster, better test scores?
  • C - Compatibility. Does this innovatoin fit with values, beliefs and current needs?
  • S - Support. Wilson et al add; is there enough support in time, energy and money to ensure success?

Adoption of Technological Innovations

While these above models explain the adoption and diffusion of innovations in general, are there specific models describing teachers and the adoption of technological innovations? Rogers (1986) noted the ways in which adoption of ICT differs from other types of innovations.

  1. A critical mass of adopters is needed to convince the majority of other teachers of the utility of the technology.
  2. To ensure the success of the adoption and diffusion, regular and repeated use is necessary.
  3. Information and communication technologies can be used in a variety of ways, and adoption is part of a process that involves significant evolution on the part of the adopters.

Research conducted by Apple Computer in the Apple Classroom Of Tomorrow (ACOT) project led to the development of a five stage model of technology implementation when computers are place in school classrooms (Dwyer, D. C., Ringstaff, C., and Sandholtz, J. H., 1991)

  1. Entry - teachers struggle to cope with and establish order in the transformed classroom.
  2. Adoption - the beginning of adoption into the traditional classroom
  3. Adaptation - while traditional teaching methods still predominate, but now supported with technology
  4. Appropriation - with increasing confidence teachers become confident and pedagogically innovative
  5. Invention - creativity including active experimentation by teaches and students

The Table below provides three ways of viewing technology adoption, each relying on a fundamentally different metaphor of learning, behaviorism, cognitive learning theory, and cultural studies (adapted from work of (Wilson et al, 2000)
Technology Adoption as Based on Outcome stressed What is needed to adopt Common research method
Consumer Behavior Behaviorism

Market research

Economic theory

Purchase and instillation behaviors Better marketing,

Clearer representation of the benefits of adopting and consequences of not

National and regional demographic surveys
Information diffusion and rational choice Cognitive Psychology

Information and organizational theories

Information leading to decision to adopt More information to make an rational decision User surveys within an organization or department
Assimilation of cultural tools and practices Cultural studies


Activity theory
Interactions and practices within a local community Recognition by the community of the shared benefits to the group and its purpose. Ethnographies or case studies

The table below describes eight conditions that facilitate the implementation of educational technology innovations (adapted from Ely, 1999).
Linked to…
Dissatisfaction with the status quo
Feeling a need to change.
Access to the knowledge and skills required by the user.
Resources, rewards & incentives, leadership, and commitment
Things needed to make it work—funding, hardware, software, tech support, infrastructure, etc.
Commitment, leadership, and rewards & incentives
Prioritized allocation of time to make it work.
Participation, commitment, leadership, and rewards & incentives
Rewards or incentives
Internal and external motivators preceding and following adoption.
Participation, resources, time, and dissatisfaction w/status quo
Shared decision-making; full communication; good representation of interests.
Time, expertise, rewards & incentives
Firm and visible evidence of continuing endorsement and support.
Leadership, time, resources, and rewards & incentives
Competent and supportive leaders of project and larger organization
Participation, commitment, time, resources, and rewards & incentives

Given general models of adoption and models of adoption specific to educational technologies, I still feel that there is an element of teaching and teacher behavior that is overlooked. NEXT

Adoption of technologies Web references

- A Critique of How Technology Adoption Models Get Used http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~bwilson/howtouse.html

- Adoption of learning technologies in schools and universities http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~lsherry/pubs/newadopt.htm

- A Survey of Educational Change Models http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed444597.html

- Diffusion Theory and Instructional Technology http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/diffusion/

- The Concerns Based Adoption Model http://www.nas.edu/rise/backg4a.htm

- The "Stages of Concern" From The Concerns-Based Adoption Model http://www.isdc.org/CBAM.html

- Using Social Network Analysis to Examine the Time of Adoption of Computer-Related Services among University Faculty http://www.iste.org/jrte/33/1/abstracts/durrington.html

- New Insights on Technology Adoption in Communities of Learners http://www.rmcdenver.com/webproject/SITEproc.html

- Technology Adoption and Diffusion http://tlc.nlm.nih.gov/resources/publications/sourcebook/adoptiondiffusion.html



Dwyer, D. C., Ringstaff, C., and Sandholtz, J. H. (1991), "Changes in Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices in Technology-rich Classrooms," Educational Leadership, 48(8), pp. 45-52.

Ely, D. P. (1976) Creating the conditions for change. In Fabisoff, S. and Bonn, G., (eds.) Changing times, changing libraries (pp. 150-162). Champaign IL: University of Illinois Graduate Library School

Rogers, E.M. (1986). Communication: The new media in society. New York: The Free Press.

Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

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