(597-SP11) Diffusion of Innovation

How does modern technology find its way from the streets of New York to the plains of Africa?  The idea behind diffusion of innovation is not new and can be defined as the “process by which an innovation is adopted and gains acceptance by members of a certain community” (Surry 1997).  Technology is spreading at a great speed, and Africa has specifically adopted the cell phone (among other technologies) as a means of dispersing education to people in rural and remote areas.  Cell phone popularity has risen due to the minimal updating and extras needed, and technical assistance is also low compared to what a computer may require.  The ease and efficiency of cell phones is amazing and furthermore with a data plan cell phones become an information bank in the palm of ones hand.  What would take hours to retrieve information now takes only seconds to browse relevant applications and find specific information.

There is no question that diffusion of innovation is happening.  The very fact that cell phones are globally accepted means of communicating and educating millions of people makes diffusion a present issue.  Other initiatives such as the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) offers up further diffusion.  In researching this topic I found many examples of what technology has been integrated and the rate at which it spread from one nation to the next, the issue I have is that I am unsure as to how quickly teacher professional development that specifically focuses on training follows the ever moving technology.  Do teachers know how to adapt their lesson plans to fully integrate the technology?  Developed nations create specific plans to ensure that the technology will benefit the individual school district and increase their return.  Do developing nations create the same plans or do they accept the technology when offered it?

Diffusion of Innovations, in my opinion, should be controlled to maximize its benefits.  The speed of diffusion is a problem.  The OLPC is offered up to countries with weak infrastructure.  Training and development is somewhat non-existent and teachers struggle to use such technology.  While there is a systematic process of implementing technology, there is still a danger that the cost still out weighs the benefits of the initiatives.

References:

Surry, D. W. (1997). Diffusion theory and instructional technology. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Retrieved online at http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/diffusion/

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