Every system is shaped by the prevailing paradigm. As society innovates itself, it also adjusts its mechanisms to new situations. The phrase information society is one of the mechanisms suggested to adjust to new situations; it is to diffuse the innovation (Askar, 2004). On the other hand, in spite of the easily visible changes and adaptations in companies, it is hard to say this for educational organizations or schools. The use of computers in schools for the purpose of teaching and learning is a kind of diffusion process in which the computer is an innovation that is defined by Rogers (2003, p. 12) as “an idea, practice or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.” In fact, computers, as a relatively new building block in the educational system, cause innovations that range from ways of communication, to teaching methods, to educational material and school management. As Rogers points out, getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is difficult. In this article, the diffusion of computers in three schools was analyzed in the light of the theory of the diffusion of innovation. Furthermore, the findings were interpreted in the framework of complex systems since school is complex, an organic-like structure with its agents and schemas, and the interactions among them.
Factors Effecting The Diffusion Of Technology In Education
The factors influencing the diffusion of computers in schools have been investigated by numerous research studies.
Beggs (2000) has identified that technology improves instruction and it has more advantages compared to traditional ways; Beggs believes these are the two most important factors in the adoption of educational technology.
Bussey, Dormody, and VanLeeuwen (2000) conducted descriptive research on New Mexico public schools. The results showed that there is an inverse relationship between adoption of technological education and years of experience. It has been identified that teachers have pointed out an insufficient budget as the biggest barrier to adoption of educational technology. This is followed by insufficient resources, lack of educational programs, and other issues. Teachers’ concern has been identified as the most common supporting factor in adoption of educational technology.
Braak (2001) has investigated the factors affecting the use of computer-mediated communications (CMC) by the teachers at secondary schools. It has been identified that an insufficient budget, lack of time, lack of external support, lack of understanding of the dimension and importance of results of CMC, as well as insufficient materials have been defined as the strongest factors that prevent the use of CMC by teachers. Technological innovativeness has been identified as the most important factor in the use of CMC. Perceived attributes of CMC have been reported as the next most important factor after technological innovativeness. CMC users have more positive perceptions compared to the nonusers regarding perceived attributes of CMC, like that it is reliable, economical, effective, flexible, and functional.
Butler and Sellbom (2002) in their research examined factors affecting teachers in adopting new teaching technologies and barriers emerging during adoption. Surveys have been mailed to 410 teachers, however, about 30% have responded. As a result of the research, trust in technology has been identified as the most important factor in teachers’ decisions on whether or not to adopt. Know-how, difficulty in learning, and the time required to learn appear as the second most important factors in adoption. Believing that technology enriches and improves education, difficulty in using technology, and management support appear as other factors affecting adoption.
Bennett and Bennett (2003) studied the perceived characteristics of instructional technology that may influence a faculty member’s willingness to integrate it in his or her teaching. They have expressed that the most important barrier teachers face in using technology is not the lack of technology or funds, but teachers’ lack of willingness and their belief that technology is not useful.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Theory of Complex Adaptive Systems: A theory that was born in the discovery of chaotic dynamics in systems’ behaviors. It uses systemic inquiry to build fuzzy, multivalent, multilevel, and multidisciplinary representations of reality.
Innovation-Decision Process: The process through which an individual passes from having knowledge of an innovation, to the formation of an attitude toward the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject it, to the implementation and use of the new idea, and then to the confirmation of this process (knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation).
Schema: A diagrammatic representation; an outline, model, or pattern imposed on complex reality or experience to assist in explaining it.
Building Block: A basic element or part of something.
Agent: One that acts or has the power or authority to act.
Diffusion: The process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.
Perceived Attributes: The characteristics of innovation as perceived by individuals (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, triability, observability).