The A-Framework: The Role of Access, Attributes, and Affordance in the Adoption of Distance Education Technology for Lifestyle Change

The A-Framework: The Role of Access, Attributes, and Affordance in the Adoption of Distance Education Technology for Lifestyle Change

Patrick J. Tierney (Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada) and Susan Moisey (Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/ijdet.2014070103
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This exploratory mixed methods case study examined the use of distance education technology for lifestyle change within the context of obesity treatment and weight management. In the quantitative phase of the study, 19 adults involved in an obesity-related lifestyle change program or change process completed a questionnaire that determined their attitude toward technology adoption, access to various types of information and communication technology and level of connectivity, and the extent to which they used technologies in their daily lives. The qualitative phase consisted of semi-structured interviews with individuals who were currently or had been obese and involved in a weight management program. The participants were provided access to a website which contained a set of online tools and resources believed to assist with weight loss and lifestyle change. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to obtain each participant's perceptions of, and reactions to, the various tools and resources. The A-Framework was developed as a direct result of this study.
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Technology is the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science. Areas related to technology that are of interest to this study include: access to technology, technology adoption, and technological perceived affordance.

Technology Adoption

In order for a technology-based lifestyle modification program to be successful, individual participants must first be willing and interested in using online tools and resources involved in the program. This openness to adoption can be predicated on a technology's perceived affordance (i.e., the readily apparent or available quality or utility of the technology). The adoption of an online resource for lifestyle change or weight loss is further affected by general attitudes towards technology, which could amount to a substantial impediment or benefit, depending on the individual.

Two technology adoption paradigms are presented here: the Technology Acceptance Model and the Theory of Diffusion of Innovation. The former describes the factors involved in an individual’s choice to use a given innovation or technology, while the latter categorizes individuals according to their proclivity to adopt a technology.

  • Technology Acceptance Model: The objective of the Technology Acceptance Model is “to provide an explanation of the determinants of computer acceptance that is general, capable of explaining user behavior across a broad range of end-user computing technologies and user populations” (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989). The model originally suggested that two beliefs:

…perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use—are instrumental in explaining the variance in users’ intentions. Perceived usefulness is the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system enhances his or her job performance. Perceived ease of use is the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system will be free of effort. These factors are common in technology-usage settings and can be applied widely to solve the acceptance problem (Chang & Tung, 2008, pp. 73-74).

  • Theory of Diffusion of Innovation: Rogers’ (2003) theory of diffusion of innovation indicates that people will react differently to an innovation, depending on their individual perceptions of that innovation (p.12). An individual’s innovation-related decision making process involves a progression through five stages as follows: (a) Knowledge—awareness of the innovation; (b) Persuasion—forming favourable or unfavourable attitudes toward the innovation; (c) Decisions—choosing to adopt or reject the innovation after engaging with it; (d)Implementation—putting the innovation to use; (e) Confirmation—seeking reinforcement of the decision to continue, reinvent, or revise the decision (Rogers, 2003, p. 169).

Recognizing that people adopt innovations at different rates, Rogers (2003) developed the technology adoption lifecycle model based on five types of innovation adopters: innovators are venturesome, possessing an obsession for new technological innovations; early adopters are less motivated by the intrinsic value of an innovation, instead understanding, ahead of the average person, the value of an innovation and how it effects them and enhances their environment; the early majority adopt new ideas just before the average individual; they typically, deliberate for some time before completely adopting a new idea; the late majority adopt new ideas just after the average member does, and retain a great deal of skepticism; laggards are suspicious of change (pp. 283-284). Moore (1995) further notes of this group that they delight in endlessly criticizing technology. Identifying an individual's technology adoption category could assist clinicians in determining the technological mix that maximizes the success of technology-based lifestyle change and weight management program.

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