Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

IT Educators and IT Adoption

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

IT Educators and IT Adoption

Article excerpt

Introduction

Technology is a constant stream--perhaps flood is more descriptive--of innovations in new technology and changes to existing technologies. Thousands of products are introduced each year. Potential adopters--business, industry, educational institutions, and individuals--must determine the right time, if ever, to embrace these new developments and to integrate them into their existing business process or curricula. Adoption of new products and services into the area of information technology (IT) education is little different from the adoption of new products and services into business organizations or society in general. In IT education, as in the population in general, a few consumers adopt new products early, others wait until they see their friends, competitors, or colleagues with the product and then decide to adopt, while some choose not to adopt.

For this discussion of IT adoption strategies, IT educators are divided into two groups: those who teach primarily theory classes and those who teach hands-on application classes. There are, of course, many hybrid courses that fall into the chasm between theory and application. Further, this discussion highlights IT educators at the theory side of the spectrum, and the arguments presented deal primarily with adoption of IT innovations to assist in course preparation and delivery, but the arguments spill into IT adoption for personal, professional productivity as well. It is the contention of the author that with regard to the adoption of innovations that purport to improve preparation for and classroom delivery of curriculum, IT educators who teach primarily theory classes must not be a laggard or part of the late majority, need not be an innovator, but should be an early adopter (preferably) or in the lead of the early majority. Further, adoption of IT innovations to improve professional goals and development should follow the same standard.

Recent studies suggest that there are three levels of new technology adoption for higher education: (a) personal productivity aids, (b) enrichment add-ins, and (c) paradigm shift (Rogers, 2000). Personal productivity aids, such as spreadsheets, allow faculty members to perform tasks faster and more effectively. Most faculty members and higher education institutions use personal productivity aids. Enrichment add-ins such as e-mail or Web pages enhances classroom presentations and homework assignments. This level of technology adoption is very common for many colleges and universities. The highest level of technology adoption is labeled paradigm shift. At this level, faculty members redesign teaching and learning activities to take full advantage of new technology. Massy and Wilger (1998) argued that most faculty members and institutions of higher education operate almost entirely at levels a and b (Hall, 2003).

Additionally, the adoption of an innovation can occur at both the organizational and individual levels. In many cases, it is impossible for an individual to adopt specific technology until the organization has adopted it (Rogers, 1995). "There are several compelling reasons why institutions [of higher education] will have to make continuing and significant investments in information technology. They generally fall into three categories: competitive position; teaching, learning, and curriculum enhancement; and student preparation for the labor market" (Green, 1995). An individual's decision to adopt a specific technology "is the perceived value the individual ascribes to the innovation, and whether the individual engages in communication with other adopters" (Marcus, reported in Gilbert, 1995). Academia, not unlike other entities, has its own unique set of values, influences, politics, resources, etc. that drive decisions regarding adoption of innovations. When a particular innovation is available to academics, however, it frequently becomes an individual choice to embrace or disregard the innovation. …

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