Diffusion of Technology toImprove Academic Readiness Skills for Pre-Kindergarten Students and Teacher Effectiveness A Case Study Brett Mahan, James De Lane & Melissa Smith
Introduction• Increasingly, schools are seeking to incorporate technology into their curricular programs in order to • improve the quality of learning activities for the students in order to enhance school readiness • expand the efficiency and effectiveness of the teachers in order to complete additional pertinent work• Research for the last few decades has proved that high quality early child care is a key factor in laying a solid foundation for school readiness.• Recently, schools nationwide have reported an increase in student achievement occurring concurrently with the execution of effective instruction utilizing technology.• These schools realize the added benefits of diffusing technological innovations within the core curriculum.
• Forever Growing learned about the reported rise in student school success and confidently elected to begin the process to adopt technology-based instruction.
• The director of Forever Growing plans to coordinate with representatives from the University of Houston Clear Lake, Instructional Design Technology Department. • UHCL will analyze, design, and develop web and DVD-based learning modules for instructional use at the school• This case study illustrates how Forever Growing will develop a strategy to share the details of the DVD and webpage among the teachers, instruct the teachers on the function of the modules, gain teacher acceptance, and certify the proper use of resources, throughout the process of diffusion.
Background about the School• Forever Growing • 1990 in Alvin, Texas by Denise West • Originally founded as an in-home daycare and after school program • Curriculum designed to integrate academic skills as well as social interactions in children ages 2-5. • Teaches academic and reading readiness through situational problem solving, phonological and phonemic awareness, and social dialogue.
• School employs five full time teachers and one half time teacher in order to split the classrooms according to developmentally appropriate age groups.• Expenditures • 40% on teacher training and salary • 30% on curriculum materials • 20% on office upkeep • 10% on miscellaneous (marketing, billing, etc.)• Mission statement: support small class sizes, teacher guidance, and the perception that the attainment of knowledge is a continuous process.
Specific Area of Interest• Forever Growing • small, privately owned preschool • total of 6 teachers on staff • close-knit family of coworkers• The small size can be an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to the diffusion of the technological innovations.
• 5 categories of “adopters” (people/employees) identified during the adoption phase • innovators • early adopters • early majority • late majority • laggards (Robinson, 2009, p.9).• In large organizations, the distributions of these five categories generally follow an S-curve type pattern consisting of a few innovators and early adopters, an increased number of early and late majorities, followed by a few laggards.• However, in a very small organization such as Forever Growing, only one or two teachers to significantly skew this pattern either positively or negatively.
• Smart to plan a strategy for disseminating information about the impending technology in order to ensure success.• Forever Growing case study specific area of interest • create a strategy for the “adopters” that constructs awareness of the technology in addition to its functions and purposes. • identify how the proposed innovations satisfy the teacher needs, increase teacher effectiveness, and improve the quality of educational programs for the children.
School’s History and Growth • Doors opened embracing an optimistic vision and a determined outlook. • Experienced many challenges and numerous triumphs. • Staff has learned from these obstacles and victories and now believe that the school can overcome any adversity to succeed.
• Timeline of History and Growth • 1990 - Began with 5 students and grew to 12 students in just a couple of months. • 1991 - School was becoming overcrowded and had to reluctantly turn away children • 1994 - After-school program abandoned order to better assist the future progress of the school. • Currently – Supports a wonderful staff, a great facility and a prominent curriculum. Enrolls almost 100 full and part time students each year in their pre-kindergarten program.• Forever Growing has witnessed periods of difficulty and hardship as well as stages of remarkable prosperity and growth.
Strengths and Weaknesses• Strengths • Strong management system • High quality curriculum • Effective teacher training and staff development• Weaknesses • Obtaining financial capital • Utilizing media instructional technology • Developing effective marketing materials
Responses and Results of theSchool’s Current Strategy• Largest challenge is obtaining the financial capital which: • Maintains the operations • Supports the acquisition and implementation of resources • Improve the educational quality of its programs• Addressing these challenges • Implements a mixture of initiatives to both raise funds and avoid costs. • Obtain full and partial scholarships from local businesses to help off-set tuition costs • Receives assistance with fund raising activities and donation matching from the community • Acquires one time financial gifts • Teachers have voluntarily given up their pay raises
• In spite of everything, there is not sufficient capital to acquire additional educational resources (technology implementation, training)• Additional resources are needed • to support the school’s over-all efforts • to help students especially from lower socio-economic family environments• These additional resources will be leveraged to overcome the knowledge gap which many students possess when they first enroll in Forever Growing.
The Specific Problem• The teachers at Forever Growing are acutely aware of the school’s resource shortages and have performed a remarkable job of maintaining the quality of the academic program in spite of these limitations.• Under most circumstances gaining acceptance of additional teaching tools would be relatively easy.• Conversely when these teaching tools include a new technology solution, new problems arise that may impede the intended diffusion.
Fichman argues in his case study:“some technologies can not be adopted as a"black-box" solution, but rather, impose asubstantial knowledge burden on would beadopters. While classical diffusion focuseson the determinants of a would-be adopterswillingness to adopt, in circumstances whereknowledge barriers are high the more tellingissue can be an adopters ability to adopt”(Fischman, 1992, p. 6).
• Largest diffusion impediment encountered by Forever Growing: • the uneven technical background knowledge base retained by the teaching staff.• The strategy to address this issue should be included within the technology diffusion plan.• The strategy should: 1. identify the levels of comfort the teachers possess working with technology 2. then scaffold the teachers requiring technology training.• Adopter innovativeness is defined as the amount of time it takes an individual to adopt the new technology (early or late).• In order to increase the probability of experiencing a successful implementation project, the school will: • Attain a confidence level embracing the new technology as early as possible
Alternatives• The following action based alternatives are more suggestions for an iterative process than mutually exclusive alternatives.• These alternatives would comprise of a plan to: • carry the school through the technology diffusion progression, addressing each stage of that process. • provide early solutions to the potential uneven technical sophistication and technophobia of the teachers.
Teachers work with UHCL instructionaldesigners in the analysis and design.• UHCL involves the Forever Growing teachers in the early analysis and design phases of the project.• Results • Enhance teacher awareness of the impending implementation • Address teacher perceptions and needs • Allay teacher fears and concerns of the less technically sophisticated • Present opportunity for teachers to have a voice in the final product • Activate interest, even enthusiasm, for the impending technology diffusion • Create a sense of ownership which may stand as the strongest asset for gaining acceptance and adoption.
Identify an innovator or early adopter amongthe teachers to start peer to peerconversations plus act as mentors and tutors• Peer mentors and tutors are teachers who possess the most comfort using technology• Peer conversations provide • an informal, less threatening support structure • an expert to answer questions, demonstrate concepts, and facilitate reassurance• This apprenticeship relationship (using an innovator teacher to support those less technical) is the ideal resource to bond the proposed technical innovations with the academic programs.
Establish a trial period before going “live”with the students• Teachers explore the learning modules before introducing them into the classroom.• This discovery learning process helps • alleviate many fears and concerns the teachers may express. • provides the opportunity for the teachers to “see” the benefits the modules bring forth for improving and encouraging the students • permits the teachers to initiate the formation of a plan on how to utilize the modules to improve their own efficiency and effectiveness in the classroom • affords the opportunity to detect any issues with the product such as malfunctioning operations or unreliability in meeting the teachers’ needs.• After the trial period is finished, the teachers should be comfortable with implementing the technology into their classrooms.
Create baseline against which learning improvements are measured after implementation• This part of the adoption stage of diffusion includes a strategy to confirm that the new technology meets the identified needs of the teachers and students.• If there is an observed measureable increase in learning evaluation, which is valid and reliable, then all hesitations will cease among the adopters.• The adopters will have quantifiable proof that the new technology is an enhancement to the curriculum activities at the school.
Recommendations for Future Changes• The school director should adopt the above iterative strategy as soon as possible prior to initiating the diffusion of the technology• The school environment becomes both accepting and supportive of innovative changes.• The school director should institute additional technical training (when finances allow it) to enrich technological intelligence throughout the school staff. • Training will improve the teacher’s expertise in regards to a broad-spectrum of technology which will in the end yield a smoother method in support of the next diffusion project.
How the Alternatives andRecommendations Relate to AECT 3.2• The following slides are included to help delineate how the case study relates to AECT’s standard 3.2 • “Diffusion of innovations is the process of communication through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 46). With an ultimate goal of bringing about change, the process includes stages such as awareness, interest, trial, and adoption.” (AECT, 2001).
Diffusion Innovation Sub-Standard 3.2.1• According to the AECT standard, the diffusion of innovations process is a plan of action to exercise a technological solution amidst a social environment with the intention of bringing about change.• The process of the diffusion of innovations includes four stages • Awareness • Interest • Trial • Adoption• The alternatives and recommendations illustrated in this case study directly addresses each of these four stages.
• By involving the teachers in the analysis and design process of the project, they will become aware of both the project itself and the details of the proposed innovative products.• Appointing one or more teachers for peer to peer conversations and mentorship supports communication regarding the diffusion project.• Setting up a trial period for teacher exploration of the technology, allows the teachers to become more familiar with the technology before implementing it in the classroom.• Forever Growing devised a fundamental plan with the intention of achieving adoption of the technological innovation. • The school’s strategy progresses through the four stages of diffusion. • These strategies facilitate the approval and distribution of the new technology throughout the school environment with the aim of initiating change affecting student success.
Conclusion• This case study illuminates several issues that can impede a successful diffusion of technology innovations.• In this study, Forever Growing is considering implementing the fusion of DVD and Web-based learning modules in conjunction with its current academic program with the purpose of enhancing instruction.• The alternatives and recommendation of the study provide the school with a framework or strategic plan for successfully completing the stages of the diffusion innovation process.
References• Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (2001). What are the initial standards? Retrieved from http://www.aect.org/standards/initstand.html• Carr, V.H. (n.d.). Technology adoption and diffusion. Retrieved from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/innovation/adoptiondiffusion.htm• Congressional and Budget Office. (2011). The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021. Retrieved from http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/0126_fy2011outlook.pdf• EDTC Curriculum Project. (n.d.). AECT rubric for the curriculum project (reflective journal). Retrieved from http://www.udel.edu/education/edtc/CurriculumProject.html• Fichman, R. G. (1992). Information Technology Diffusion: A review of empirical research. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.24.5209&rep=rep1&type=pdf• Reiser, R. & Dempsey, J.V. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.). Allyn and Bacon.• Robinson, L. (2009). A summary of diffusion of innovations. Retrieved from http://www.enablingchange.com.au/Summary_Diffusion_Theory.pdf• Seels, B., & Richey, R. (1994). Instructional technology: The definition and domains of the field (p. 46). Washington, DC: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.• Smith, M (Producer). (2011). Forever growing: Interview with Denise West [video]. Alvin, Texas.• Welcome to the Texas prekindergarten guidelines. (2008, May). Revised Texas prekindergarten guidelines [TEA release]. Retrieved October 19, 2009, from University of Texas System and Texas Education Agency website: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/ed_init/pkguidelines/PKG_Final_100808.pdf