Technology plays an important role in modern society. It is hard to imagine living in a world without such essential technologies as wireless communication, the Internet, laser surgery, polymers, and jet aircrafts, among countless other examples. Technology has had a profound effect on almost all aspects of our lives including banking, communications, medicine, transportation, energy, and the military. As in these other areas, technology is now playing an increasingly important role in education. A variety of technologies have been introduced into the schools over the last few decades. Among the most common of these are computer assisted instruction, multimedia presentations, classroom management software, and various assistive and adaptive technologies. In more recent years, distance and online learning technologies have advanced to the point where online learning is now a viable option for the delivery of high quality educational and training programs. The potential for technology, especially distance and online learning, to revolutionize education and training is beyond question.
Main Focus: Supporting Implementation
The RIPPLES Model (Surry, 2002; Surry, Ensminger, & Haab, 2005) describes a framework for supporting the implementation of innovations. The framework draws from prior theories of diffusion and implementation including Rogers (2003), Ely (1999), and Stockdill and Morehouse (1992). There are seven components of the model: Resources, Infrastructure, People, Policies, Learning, Evaluation, and Support. Each of the seven components is discussed briefly in this section.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Utilization: The extent to which an innovation is effectively employed by members of an organization as part of routine practice.
Technology: Technology can be defined narrowly or broadly. Narrowly defined, technology is seen as a tool, such as a computer. More broadly defined, technology includes not only tools, but the skills and knowledge needed to effectively use the tool. The broadest definition of technology includes tools, skills and knowledge, and the larger systems needed to conceptualize, develop, use, and refine the tools.
Adoption: The initial decision to employ an innovative tool or practice.
Diffusion Research: The study of how innovations spread throughout a social system and the development of strategies to increase the rate of spread.
Barrier: Anything that tends to impede the adoption, implementation, or utilization of an innovation.
Implementation: The process, following an initial adoption decision, by which an innovative tool or practice is introduced into an organization. Implementation is a purposeful activity designed to facilitate the timely and effective utilization of an innovation by members of the organization.
Innovation: Any tool or practice which is new, novel, or unique to the members of an organization or social system.