Today I am going to talk a little bit about Diffusion of Innovation Theory and relate it to our technology integration practices in education. Don't worry the post is not gonna be long , nor will it sound like an academic paper steeped in scientific rigour.
Let's start with the school or institution where you work. Your colleagues are, of course, using some technology in their work but the degree and presence of technology in their classes differs from one individual to the other.As you are reading these lines, you might be probably thinking of some examples from your school. Teacher X , for instance, is deeply into technology and is known for trying all the new techy ideas in school but Teacher Y is still using the " rudimentary technology" and only in sporadic instances. Other teachers fall in between: they are not as innovative in their technology integration as teacher X but also not lagging behind as is the case with teacher Y. Looking for an explanation for this situation? Diffusion of Innovation Theory has the answer.
Rogers theory Diffusion of Innovation seeks to explain how innovations are taken up in an organization. An innovation means an idea, behaviour, or object that is perceived as new by its audience. While the theory goes deeper into precursors of social change and offers invaluable insight into the process that leads up to this change, what matters for us here is the classification Rogers made to categorize how people adopt an innovation.
For the purposes of this post, I will be narrowing down the concept of innovation to teachers' adoption of technology into their classes. In this sense, and according to Rogers classification; teachers can be broken down into five different segments, based on their propensity to adopt a specific innovation :
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These are teachers who are willing to take risks and venture into new untamed territories. These teachers are always on the look out for new technology to improve their instruction and inform their teaching practices. Mistakes for innovators are insightful precursors that learning is taking place. Unfortunately, this category, according to Rogers, constitutes only 2.5% of the workforce in an organization.
2- Early Adopters
These are the people who are less adventurous than innovators. They do take risks but only after a innovators have already done so. They need to see an innovation tested in order for them to jump in. Their desire to be trend setters and lead others place them in the second place after innovators. They are also called change agents and are bigger in size, 13,5%.
3- Early majority
These are teachers who won't act without a solid proof of benefits. They are very circumspect in their acts. They are also followers of change agents and only adopt what early adopters have already tried successfully. This category makes up about 34% of the workforce in an institution.
4- Late majority
These people hate risks and are defintely not comfortable with new ideas. Practically, their only driver is the fear of not fitting in, hence they will follow mainstream fashions and established standards. They are often influenced by the fears and opinions of laggards. They make up 34% of staff population.
They are " people who see a high risk in adopting a particular product or behaviour. Some of them are so worried they stay awake all night, tossing and turning, thinking up arguments against it. And don’t forget they might be right! "
So which category are you more comfortable being at ?