In our class, we have been looking at and unpacking various theories and tools for considering the diffusion of technology. I think that it is a valuable exercise to see where I fit in when looking at the various groups of adopters and stages of adoption.
In Rogers’ (1983) Theory of diffusion of innovation, he identifies five main groups of adopters–Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. I think that both personally and professionally, I would generally consider myself part of the Early Adopter and Early Majority group. Interestingly, I consider myself in the same groups professionally and personally and my reasons are quite similar as well. In both cases, I am quick to adopt technology because I am willing to see if the adoption will improve my current situations or processes. I am able to see the various use cases where the use of technology will make things more effective or efficient. I am also naturally curious and interested in technology in general and that interest and curiosity also drives my speed of adoption. It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that there is definitely a “cool factor” that comes into play as well. However, I think one significant difference between my motivations professionally and personally is that in a professional setting, I am more focused on the usefulness and effectiveness a technology can bring to the workspace. Personally, my interest and curiosity is more intrinsic. I am interested in adopting new technologies just to see how they work and how they integrate with other technologies and processes in my personal life.
In both cases, some of the factors that slow down my adoption are definitely time and money. With limited amounts of both, the level of risk that I am willing to assume to try to adopt something new is lower. I become more cautious. this may seem obvious, but the more a new technology cost, financially and in amount of time to learn to integrate it, the more I confident I will need to be that there is significant benefit to its adoption. This specific levels of risk and cost/benefit are likely different in my personal life and my professional life because of the factors that I mentioned earlier.
Many of my friends and family are early adopters of technology and because of this my exposure to emerging or newer technologies is frequent. With conversations with my friends and family often around these new technologies and the current trends, along with their adopting of new technology trends, my observability and trialability of new technologies are quite high. This definitely contributes to my earlier adoption of technology. As Rogers (1983) described, these are both characteristics that influence an individual’s adoption of technology.
I think that as a target level, I would like to consistently be among the early adopters because I hope to be able to have influence on the adoption trends in technology specifically in my work in education. Rogers (1983) identifies the early adopters as the opinion leaders and those that can impact the direction of adoption most strongly. In education, there are many competing technologies such as a variety of content management systems (WebCT, moodle, blackboard) and online meeting platforms (Webex, Adobe connect, Google hangouts). I would like, as an early adopter and user of technology in an educational setting to have an impact on which technologies become more widely used and adopted among my co-workers and the education field.
As a small example, in my current role at work, I have been using social media as a tool to communicate and generate conversation around relevant school-related topics, such as student groups, community outreach, student events and opportunities. As there become more and more platforms competing in the social media space, it can become increasing confusing for people to decide what to you and for what. I would ideally like to be an early adopter of emerging technologies in these spaces to be an opinion leader and help shape the direction of adoption of these technologies in my workplace and in education.
In order for me to progress towards consistently becoming an early adopter, it is valuable to consider the factors and forces that slow this process down and some barriers that stand in the way. A force field analysis of the motivators and inhibitors will help me to get a better sense on the process and how I can move forward. In order to do this, let’s first consider the driving forces and motivators.
The first driving force is my own desire to provide leadership in this area. I believe that adoption of technology in education is generally in the best learning interest of the students and that is something that I value.
A second driving force is the support or push that my leadership team and administration for this adoption. It is their belief as well that this adoption is good for students.
Thirdly, I believe that there is also a pressure from the students and community to stay relevant to the environment that we are currently in, where technology is a shaping agent in how people interact with each other. If this is true, in order to continue to interact in a meaningful way, we will need to continue to adopt new technologies as they become bigger parts of everyday life for people that we are trying to connect with.
When considering some of the restraining forces and inhibitors that are working against my progress to consistently being an early adopter.
The first restraining force is the limited time that is dedicated to the adoption of new technologies and the effectiveness of their implementation.
The second restraining force is the limited financial resources used to support and promote these adoptions.
The third restraining force is the attitude held by many of my co-workers where they are resistance to change. In my work setting, it becomes difficult to move ahead with the adoptions and integrations of new technologies in isolation. When collaborating with colleagues that are resistant to change, their attitudes becomes an inhibitor.
I would consider that my current situation is at equilibrium (Accel-team, 2013) as we have been in the same place with respects to technology adoption in our educational setting for the past few years. However, in order to move forward, my administration, although already quite supportive, will need to increase their support and dedicate additional time and money to help early adopters such as myself to start to become early adopters and influencers. I think that many of the other pieces are in place, with staff like myself willing to take on leadership in this area. The progress over the past eight years overall have been significant, but we have reached a equilibrium in the past few years and need to again start moving forward.
Accel-Team (2013). Force Field Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.accel-team.com/techniques/force_field_analysis.html
Rogers, Everett M. (1983). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-926650-2