An Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model
Lorraine Sherry 
RMC Research Corporation
Draft Copy, August 30, 1997

Presented at the meeting of the Association for Educational Communications
and Technology (AECT), St. Louis, MO, 18-21 February 1998, as part of a
panel chaired by Dan Surry.  

To appear in International Journal of Educational Telecommunications.
Copyright 1998 AACE. All Rights Reserved.


During the evaluation of the Boulder Valley Internet Project, members of
RMC Research Corporation developed a structural model of technology
adoption and diffusion that comprised technological, individual,
organizational, and teaching and learning factors. Though this static
model was useful for identifying key explanatory factors and organizing
them into a coherent framework, it did not describe the dynamics of the
diffusion process, nor did it fit Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations model.
Revisiting the data, we developed a new model that integrated the adoption
process with the learning process. As teachers learn about new
technologies, specifically e-mail and the World Wide Web via a trainer of
trainers program, and as they begin to use these new resources in the
classroom, they move through four stages of change—learning from their
peers, experimenting and adopting, co-learning and co-exploring with their
students, and finally, reflecting and either rejecting the adoption
decision or reconfirming it and continuing the cycle to become the next
round of peer trainers. The success of this process is supported by
communicating a shared vision among all members of the educational system,
including teachers, administrators, parents, the community, and the policy
making bodies.

An Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model

During the past three years, members of RMC Research Corporation have been
evaluating the Annenberg/CPB Creating Connections Project (Lawyer-Brook &
Sherry, 1996) and the Boulder Valley Internet Project commonly referred to
as the BVIP (Sherry & Lawyer-Brook, 1997; Sherry, 1997), using converging
lines of quantitative and qualitative inquiry. In this paper we will
concentrate on the BVIP case study, focusing on the relationship between
adoption/diffusion of technology and the instructional processes that were
involved in the project. 

Both Creating Connections and the BVIP were based on the premise that the
Internet can provide a rich variety of tools and resources that may be
used to enhance instruction and communication by students, teachers, and
administrators. By “Internet” we refer to the mix of e-mail, the World
Wide Web, and the other telecommunications tools that were used by both
trainers and participating teachers in these projects. 

Creating Connections was a national initiative that provided
Internet training workshops for rural teachers. Its goals were to
establish telecommunications links between isolated, rural teachers and to
give them greater access to research, instructional strategies, and
materials that could be used to enhance their teaching of math and

The BVIP, in contrast, focused on the integration of
telecommunications throughout the Boulder Valley School District in
Colorado. It was a five year collaborative venture between the University
of Colorado at Boulder and the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD),
funded by the National Science Foundation with additional support from the
Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project. The project leader, the
administrative assistant, and the core group of peer trainers were common
to both projects. In fact, collaboration between the two grants greatly
strengthened both projects.

The evaluation team’s research centered around assessing the
success of the training workshops and the resulting changes in
participants’ use of technology and Internet resources, the effectiveness
of the Internet as a platform for curricular innovation, and the possible
uses of the models derived from these projects in other settings. The
quantitative and qualitative data collected from the BVIP evaluation
yielded an enormous amount of information and revealed the complexity of
the issues we were investigating. It became necessary to create a model
that could identify key explanatory factors and organize them into a
coherent framework. The data both supported and greatly expanded previous
adoption models that dealt with the technological barriers, user
characteristics and perceptions, and organizational issues that either
facilitated or impeded the diffusion of innovations throughout an
educational community. (See Sherry & Lawyer-Brook, 1997).

The Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model that
resulted from the BVIP has four strands with multiple sets of variables:
technological, individual, organizational, and instructional factors, as
shown in Table 1.

(see for Table 1.)

Background of key ideas leading to the development of the model
To build a sound theoretical base for the case study, the
evaluation team reviewed current literature, working from three different
perspectives. The first perspective looked at the technology, including
access, cost, type and age of available computers and hardware, the
physical aspects of the school network, reliability, and user interface.
The second focused on the viewpoint of the user, encompassing both user
characteristics and users’ perceptions of the technology. The third dealt
with the complex needs of the educational institution itself—a school or
district situated within an educational community, which, in turn, is
situated within the district and local culture as a whole.

Though we started with Everett Rogers’ (1995) Diffusion of
Innovations model, it soon became apparent that we were dealing with a
dynamic, evolving program housed within a decentralized educational
organization. Over the five year span of the BVIP, both the project and
the evaluation design evolved significantly as connectivity increased,
Internet tools became more user-friendly, teachers and students acquired
Internet knowledge and skills, and telecommunications began to garner
popular support. Moreover, successful diffusion, according to Rogers’
model, depends heavily on client/change agent empathy. We found that,
though the Trainer of Trainers model used for both the initial core group
of peer trainers and the later generations of trainees was successful in
diffusing the use of the Internet horizontally among those classroom
teachers who participated in the training workshops, it was hampered by
the increasing conservatism among the new superintendent and school board
members who replaced the policy makers who initially bought into and
supported the project. 

As the evaluation progressed, we soon realized that there was yet
a fourth set of issues—teaching and learning factors—including those
surrounding the peer training process itself and the ways in which the
Internet could support various instructional goals, pedagogical
strategies, and learning theories that were espoused by the teachers
within the district. In retrospect, it became evident that the
instructional factors were, in fact, driving the diffusion process at the
same time as the organizational factors were impeding it, in a complex
feedback loop. 

The mentoring of teachers by their colleagues in the training
workshops led to the adoption of the Internet by those teachers who
attained a relatively high sense of self-efficacy and comfort level with
telecommunications as their schools gradually came on-line. The ensuing
use of Internet-based activities resulted in the use of more engaged
learning by students in classrooms, laboratories, and media centers within
those schools. 

The successes and challenges faced by teachers in the altered
instructional setting resulted in a mix of confirmation and rejection of
Internet-based instruction, depending on the individual characteristics
and perceptions that the teachers brought to the learning setting. Those
who tried using the Internet and wound up facing barriers that they
perceived as insurmountable dropped out of the project. In contrast, some
of the other teachers began to use their students as their support group.
They also began to take on new duties and responsibilities such as
troubleshooting the system, serving on technology teams, and mentoring
their colleagues as a result of their newly developed expertise.

The Starting Point: The Trainer of Trainers Model
Beginning in 1992, a Trainer of Trainers model similar to that
used by Main (1996) in British Columbia was used by the BVIP to create a
core group of 26 teachers. The objectives of the initial intensive
training for the core group of peer trainers, and for later generations of
participating teachers, were 
*	to become proficient in the use of electronic mail (e-mail); 
*	to become comfortable investigating Internet resources; and 
*	to become experienced at exploring ways to integrate the use of
the Internet into their curricula. 

Once they finished their training, the new cadre of
teacher-trainees returned to their respective schools to become
instructors and resource personnel for their colleagues. 

To support these three objectives, the project directors developed
a set of ancillary materials, a series of structured classes, and a set of
open, unstructured laboratory workshops, all given at the convenience of
participating teachers. Later, they created a district wide web page to
support the training program, to render assistance to new users, and to
disseminate information about the project throughout the district. This
served as an addition to, not a replacement for, newsletters distributed
to BVSD teachers and posters prominently displayed in the teachers’

The BVIP’s Trainer of Trainers model was an effective strategy in
disseminating Internet training throughout the district. Starting with the
core team of peer teachers, the project significantly expanded the level
of telecommunications expertise and usage. As of January 1996 there were
435 teachers on the BVSD network who logged in regularly: an increase of
seventeen fold over the initial cohort of teacher-trainees. This was no
small feat, considering that district wide connectivity would not be
available until January 1997. What factors contributed to its success?

Client/change agent empathy
Rogers notes that change agents seek to influence their clients’
behavior in accordance with recommendations based on the clients’ actual
needs (1995: 337). At this stage, in which a change agent seeks to
translate the client’s intent to change into an action plan for change,

Rogers also notes that interpersonal influences from near-peers are very
important. The BVIP training program was designed with this principle in
mind. The project director and her administrative assistant, whose offices
were housed in the district office, used BVSD teachers as change agents
rather than relying on the outside experts that could have been made
available from the University of Colorado, from outside vendors, or from a
district level trainer. This client/change agent empathy was an important
success factor.

According to Martin and Zlotolow (1997), change agents must help
stakeholders decide where they want to go and how to get there, and at the
same time, help individuals and groups make substantive changes in both
their behavior and attitudes. 

What change agents need is a big-picture perspective of systemic
change...and a means to help individual people make specific plans for
changes that are desired/required. (Martin & Zlotolow, 1997: 2)

Though the BVSD peer trainers were the actual change agents for
their colleagues, the overall scope of the change effort—the goals of the
project, the readiness of the school district to begin a change effort,
and the district’s ability to make the desired breadth of change—were all
envisioned by the project director and the principal investigator.

Inaugurating change on so grand a scale was extremely difficult in the
beginning, because when the project directors first created their
expansive vision for the BVIP, little was known about effective
integration of the Internet into a school district. Nor could they foresee
the conservative trend that would take place several years later, near the
end of the implementation phase.

Participatory Design
With buy-in and administrative support from the superintendent and
the policy makers at the time the grant was approved, the bulk of the
training program concentrated on the needs of typical classroom teachers.
Training was responsive to ongoing changes in the Internet and the
evolving needs and expertise of the new teacher-trainees. The project
director elicited feedback from participants to continually update and
redesign the training program. 

This emphasis on participatory design is very much in consonance
with Gould and Lewis’ (1985) three principles for user-centered design of
instructional systems: an early focus on typical users and actual tasks;
the use of empirical methods to assess the ability of the intended users
to perform real tasks in the target context; and a focus on iterative,
participatory design, incorporating the results of pilot testing and
feedback from typical users. Though participatory design has its roots in
Human Performance Technology (HPT), the evaluation of the BVIP showed that
it is eminently suited to instructional design as well. 

Grudin (1991), another advocate of participatory design, suggests
that typical end users should be in direct contact with the developers of
an instructional system during the development process. Some of his
suggestions for narrowing the gap between designers and end users include:
*	including stakeholders and end users in design/development teams;
*	getting designers to participate in the local culture of the end
*	integrating pilot testing, prototyping, and formative evaluation
into design; and
*	encouraging users to take more responsibility for their own

In the Diffusion of Innovations model, Rogers directs our
attention to two factors that contribute to the successful diffusion of an
innovation via horizontal networks in a decentralized diffusion
system—client participation in program implementation and client
re-invention of specific features of the innovation (Rogers, 1995: 367). 

In our previous research (Sherry & Myers, 1997), we found that
close collaboration between our design team and typical end users led to a
high degree of local adaptation and re-invention of on-line supports for
new users of the Internet in a university setting. We also observed this
process in a BVSD elementary school where younger students in a multi-age
science class worked closely with teachers and older students. Together,
teachers and students built a web page that captured their shared
knowledge and experiences as they co-explored the field of oceanography.

Contextual learning
Since the BVIP teachers-in-training were adult learners
participating in a self-initiated professional development program, the
workshop trainers emphasized personal change and growth as in Carl Rogers’
(1969) model of experiential learning. In keeping with the experiential
learning approach, the content covered in the workshop was chosen to be
relevant to the personal interests of the participants, and trainees were
able to exercise some control over the nature and direction of the
training sessions. 

Workshops and classes were given in BVSD classrooms, using the
very platforms that the teachers would use once their labs or classrooms
were connected. This represented a non threatening learning environment,
another of Carl Rogers’ key principles. Seels (1995) points out that the
context in which instruction occurs is an important instructional design
consideration in four different ways: the pre- and post-instructional
environments should be considered as well as the instructional
environment; learning contexts should be designed to optimize learning;
workplace performance contexts should be evaluated to determine whether
the instruction was successful; and the instructional design model should
be adapted to the project context (Seels, 1995: 238-9).

The use of an authentic context is an important aspect of situated

The activity in which knowledge is developed and not
separable or ancillary to learning and cognition. Nor is it neutral.
Rather, it is an integral part of what is learned. Situations might be
said to co-produce knowledge through activity. Learning and cognition, it
is now possible to argue, are fundamentally situated. (Brown, Collins, &
Duguid, 1989: 32).

Not only does situated learning support the use of a cognitive
apprenticeship model that enables learners to acquire, develop, and use
cognitive tools in authentic domain activities, it also emphasizes active
perception and participation in dealing with concepts and representation.
As Lave would argue, knowledge is never fully internalized as schemata or
externalized as knowledge artifacts or activity structures; it is always
based on situated negotiation and renegotiation of meaning in the world
(Lave & Wenger, 1996: 51). 

The context of the open laboratory workshops provided by the BVIP
afforded the peer trainers the opportunity to use the core approaches of
cognitive apprenticeship. Through modeling, coaching, and scaffolding,
experienced BVSD teachers assisted the new teacher-trainees in developing
their cognitive and metacognitive skills via observation and guided,
supported practice in the very environment where they would eventually
carry out these activities on their own (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989:

Authentic context is also an important feature of Sticht’s (1988)
functional context approach. Though the functional context approach was
initially developed for adult technical and literacy training in military
programs, its emphasis on making learning relevant to the experience of
learners and their authentic work context is very similar to the BVIP’s
use of authentic contexts for their training sessions. Moreover, by using
ancillary materials that the trainees would be able to take home with them
after the conclusion of the training workshops, it was hoped that transfer
of learning from the workshop environment to the actual laboratory or
classroom would be enhanced—an idea very much in consonance with Seels’
emphasis on analysis of the post-instructional environment.

Transformational learning
The use of a non threatening learning environment and empathetic peer
trainers facilitated the process of transforming both personal meaning
schemes and meaning perspectives of the new users, especially the shift in
role from “the sage on the sage to the guide on the side” associated with
the use of technology-supported open-ended learning environments (OELEs).
These processes are critical features of Mezirow’s (1991) transformative
dimensions of adult learning. They became especially important in the
context of the BVSD, where teachers were faced with conflicting ways in
which they could align their teaching with the district’s evolving
standards. Teacher-trainees had to make their own personal judgments
regarding two very different options: whether to use engaged learning
strategies and Internet-based activities that supported student-centered
learning, or whether to go along with the “back to the basics” movement
that was gaining popularity throughout the district as a whole. 

The interaction between the peer trainers and the collective groups of
teacher-trainees, in the context of their goal-related activities, was an
important aspect of the training program that requires a bit more
explanation. The whole notion of teaching with telecommunications requires
a “letting go” of the traditional control over the teaching and learning
process by teachers, as well as a good deal of reflection about the way in
which they teach. A focus group participant commented on some of the
issues involved in changing perspectives:

We are very used to our four walls, our kingdom, the control thing; and
this is an area where there is no control, no predictability...[We have
to] refine the management techniques so they are real successful, but also
that teaching style of letting go and reinforcing the skills that you need
to have in life. How do we analyze it? How do we incorporate it into what
we need? It’s hard to bridge those fundamental teaching styles, the
philosophies, the way we do things, the attitudes. (A BVSD teacher)

It is this very type of reflection that is the key to Roy Pea’s
notion of transformative communication. Pea speaks of two types of
communication that may take place in a learning situation: the information
transmission view, in which content knowledge is imparted to the learner
by an expert; and the ritual view of communication, with its sense of
participation and belonging, and its highlighting of social roles.
Transformative communication melds the two.

Learning is not only a conserving enterprise, which seeks ritual belonging
in order to perpetuate sameness and tradition. It is a quest to expand the
ways of knowing. It seeks to expand the problem niches to which past
concepts and strategies and beliefs are applied. It must establish in its
communicative activities the grounds for its own evolution. (Pea, 1996:

By engaging teacher-trainees in a process of reflection and
dialogue with their colleagues, the peer trainers facilitated a
transformative process, opening up new ways of thinking in which each

potentially provides creative resources for transforming existing
practice, in going beyond the common body of knowledge of the field in
their inquiries, and the conceptual tools developed to sustain these
practices. (Pea, 1996: 175).

In such a dialogue, teachers had to re-think their vision of
learning. This meant reflecting on their role in the classroom, the
relationship of the classroom curriculum to state and district standards,
whether the existing curriculum was to be enriched, enhanced, or replaced,
and the precise role of Internet-based activities in the classroom. This
goes beyond Mezirow’s concept of transformation of meaning schemes, where
old assumptions and old interpretations of experience are transformed—it
involves a total perspective transformation or paradigm shift. Needless to
say, different teachers faced this paradigm shift in a variety of ways.
Some became enthusiastic users of the new technologies, while others
carefully weighed their options and suspended their judgment until they
were able to see some relative advantage and observable benefits that
might accrue from the large investment of time and energy that the
training program involved.

This is very much in keeping with Lave and Wenger’s (1996)
viewpoint of legitimate peripheral participation: learning,
transformation, and change are inextricably related once a newcomer begins
to participate actively in a community of learning. A BVSD teacher who was
one of the early participants in the program remarked:

With the exception of things like Netscape, I pretty much understood the
impact it would have on kids. But this whole concept of the World Wide Web
with graphics now, the move beyond Lynx and gopher—that has been the
really, really big change. It is very possible to have full motion video, confer with other classrooms anywhere in the world. This
is going to be the tough part—how to get teachers ready for major, major

“Major, major change” presents a dilemma for most teachers who are
comfortable with those strategies that have proven successful in the past.
For a training program to be successful when it involves new technologies,
new strategies, and an open learning environment, it is not enough to
simply transmit information or have participants construct knowledge. Both
Pea and Mezirow would concur that trainers and participants—together—have
to construct a more inclusive, integrated way of interpreting reality.
This means transforming both meaning schemes and meaning perspectives for
all participants. It starts with facing the dilemma head on, mustering the
will to act and change, weighing the various options for action, and
relating new meanings to one’s own vision of learning. 

The self-reflection and participatory design process, in which
trainers and teacher-trainees explored the affordances of the Internet
together, learned together, dealt with conflicts together, solved problems
together, and continually redesigned the training program together,
contributed to the success of the training program. In retrospect, if the
project directors had had a “crystal ball” and been able to predict the
dramatic changes in the Internet and the World Wide Web six years ago,
their initial plan may have been far more structured, and such dynamic and
continuous changes in the training program may not have taken place.

In the previous section, we dealt solely with teaching and
learning factors—one of the four modules in the Integrated Technology
Adoption and Diffusion Model. Having learned a great deal of new material,
teacher-trainees often left the BVIP workshops and returned to their
respective schools with a host of questions such as “Can I get it to
work?”, “How does it affect me?”, “How much time will it take?”, and “What
do I do when it breaks?”

In Gene Hall’s (1987) stages of concern model, individuals go through
stages when adopting changes or innovations. Each stage is characterized
by specific questions, concerns, or anxieties about the innovation and the
changes to their practice that occur once they adopt it and begin to use
it. The first stage is the information stage, in which a non-user has some
general awareness of the innovation and expresses an interest in learning
more about it, such as a teacher-trainee attending a class or open lab

It is at Hall’s second stage, known as the personal concern stage, that
uncertainty enters the picture as the new user focuses on his/her adequacy
to meet changing demands within the existing environment. At the third
stage, the user’s attention focuses on managing the tasks and processes
related to the use of the innovation. Hall notes that users tend to fall
into three categories: mechanical users who are poorly coordinated, have
difficulty planning how to use the innovation, make mistakes, and ask for
help; routine users who have established a pattern of use; and changing
users who are comfortable enough with the innovation to customize it
(Hall, 1997). Later, the user’s focus shifts to concerns about how the
innovation impacts others in the organization. Hall remarks that, once
teachers start using innovations, people tend to imitate them. This is how
their near-peers learn; it represents the observable benefit that is so
critical to the Rogers model.

It is at Hall’s second stage that the technological, individual, and
organizational factors of the Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion
Model enter the picture.

Technological factors

Recent, large empirical studies tend to focus on technological factors,
confirming the increasing prevalence of the Internet and other on-line
services in schools. The Office of Educational Research and Improvement
(OERI, 1995) reported that 35% of public schools have access to the
Internet, and an additional 14% more have access to other wide area
networks. Honey and Henriquez (1993), the OERI (1995), and Levin (1995)
described a number of technological barriers to the use of
telecommunications in the classroom—limited funding for advanced
telecommunications hookups, lack of equipment or poor equipment, and too
few access points in the school building. Similarly, Wolf and Black (1993)
identified access and volume of content as two technological barriers
encountered by new users.

In The Role of On-line Communications in Schools: A National Study, the
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) demonstrated that students in
experimental groups with on-line access showed significantly higher scores
on measurements of information management, communication, and presentation
of ideas than students in control groups with no on-line access. The
researchers note, however, that

This endeavor requires an enormous investment. It is not just a matter of
hardware and wires, it requires a new way of teaching and learning. It
requires the support of the whole educational community, from the
government to superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents. (CAST,

Individual factors

Individual factors deal with both user characteristics such as motivation,
need for control, sense of self-efficacy and attitudes, and user
perceptions of the innovation. Both Rogers (1995) and Farquhar and Surry
(1994) consider observable benefit, relative advantage, complexity,
compatibility with needs and wants, and trialability to be user
perceptions—attributes of the innovation as perceived by end users—rather
than attributes of the innovation that have some sort of objective
reality. The more positively new users perceive an innovation with regard
to these five characteristics, the greater the likelihood that the
innovation will be adopted. 

This is a critical distinction backed up by Hall’s (1997)
research: non-users have the most concern about information (“I need to
know more about it”) and personal impact (“what does it mean for me?),
whereas new users are more worried about management concerns. Non-users
also tend to have a higher level of anxiety than new or experienced users
because of the uncertainty and unfamiliarity that the new innovation
entails. Experienced users are higher on the impact level and are more
concerned about what effects the innovation has on others, especially
their peers and students.

In Rogers’ (1995) model, individuals who are going through the
innovation-decision process pass through five stages: seeking information
about the innovation’s existence and some understanding of how it
functions; forming a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward it; engaging
in activities that lead to a choice to either adopt or reject the
innovation; putting the innovation to use; and seeking reinforcement of an
innovation-decision that has already been made (Rogers, 1995:20). There is
a strong parallel between Rogers’ five stages and Hall’s model in which
new users pass through an information stage, a personal concern stage, a
management stage, consequence and collaboration stages, and a refocusing
stage. In both models there is a mix of cognitive and affective variables
that impact the adoption decision process.

Pelton and Pelton’s (1996) study of the attitudes and concerns of
preservice teachers toward technology isolated three main factors that
comprise the multi-faceted “attitude” variable, namely, confidence,
usefulness both in education and personally, and impact on students and/or
teachers. Our own empirical research (Sherry, manuscript in preparation)
on the barriers to the use of e-mail by graduate students and faculty in a
department within a graduate school of education, identified three
factors, two of which were associated with technology and were similar to
Pelton and Pelton’s two main factors—usefulness/value, and confidence—and
a third, unexpected factor—the ability to express one’s thoughts in
writing, which will deserve further exploration. In both of these studies,
there is clearly a mix of cognitive and affective variables, with
individual concern playing a major part in patterns of use, reasons for
use, and barriers to use of technology.

According to Farquhar and Surry (1994), user characteristics affecting
adoption are motivation, anxiety, knowledge base, prior experience, and
skill level—again, a mix of cognitive and affective variables. These
characteristics, among others, were evident in both the initial survey and
the interview responses from the BVIP evaluation.

Though the BVIP research model drew heavily from the Rogers model, the
data that were collected revealed that one cannot simply characterize
early adopters as “techies” and late adopters as “technophobic”. Such
simplistic labeling of the adopting teachers cannot fully describe the
complex relationship between the technology and the human element.
Identified user characteristics such as motivation, need for control, and
comfort level, coupled with expertise, reasons for and patterns of use,
gender, and special needs, influenced both the content and the process of
acquiring expertise in telecommunications. Knowledge, comfort level, and
usage levels were closely related, as teachers with greater experience
took on leadership roles.

Both Rogers and Hall recognize that uncertainty, and the new user’s desire
to reduce uncertainty by seeking information, are critical features of the
adoption process. This is one reason why the BVIP project director took
such great pains to advertise the training program both on-line and via
newsletters and posters, and to present a varied array of courses so that
each new user could avail him/herself of a workshop that was commensurate
with his/her own knowledge, skills, and comfort level.

Uncertainty implies a lack of predictability, of structure, of
information. In fact, information is a means of reducing uncertainty.
(Rogers, 1995: 6)

Uncertainty creates a curiosity/anxiety conflict in new users that is
described by Spielberger and Starr (1994) in their model of epistemic
curiosity. Individuals possess normal, random variations in both of these
characteristics, not only as a personality trait, but also in relation to
their state of relaxation or agitation at any given time, which, in turn,
depends on the context and situation in which they find themselves. The
lower the comfort level of the new users of an innovation, the less
willing they are to experiment with it. 

In another recent study targeting users’ perceptions, we (Wilson, Ryder,
McCahan, & Sherry, 1996) reported that some individuals who resisted using
a new schoolwide Internet system felt intimidated by the experts within
the school whom they labeled as “techno gurus”. Rather than considering
these perceived experts as models of behavior that was worth emulating,
the challenged students felt that the experts were speaking a new,
different, technological language, filled with mystical expertise, jargon,
and commands that were simply not worth learning. These challenged
individuals exemplified Hall’s personal stage of concern, i.e., they were
uncertain about the demands of the innovation, their adequacy to meet
those demands, and their role with regard to the innovation.

Pelton and Pelton (1996) concur—though preservice teachers generally have
positive attitudes toward technology and perceive it as important, their
lack of knowledge and experience leads to a lack of confidence when
introducing new technologies into instruction. The empirical results of
their study indicated that preservice teachers rated their confidence in
their own technology skills as less than the perceived importance of
mastering the skills necessary to use technology effectively in the
classroom. This lack of confidence then leads to anxiety and reluctance to
use technology.

Rossett (1991) suggests that when dealing with what she terms “new stuff”,
especially new technologies, the feelings of the users become a critical
issue. Given a performance problem, human performance technologists
usually conduct a performance analysis to identify the gap between actual
and optimal performance. In contrast, Rossett explains, when trainees are
learning new knowledge and skills rather than trying to increase their
level of performance, a performance analysis is not appropriate—one is now
dealing with a gap between optimals and feelings. 

Driscoll agrees—when dealing with a performance goal orientation, learners
question whether or not their abilities are adequate for the task. Failing
is taken to mean that the answer is “no”. “[I]f learners harbor serious
doubts as to whether they can perform those required activities, they will
not put forth the effort” (Driscoll, 1994: 301). In contrast, those who
have high confidence in their abilities and who place value on the
outcomes of their actions will tend to seek out challenges and persist
until they have mastered the required tasks. We (Wilson, Ryder, McCahan, &
Sherry, 1996) have found that new users with a low sense of self-efficacy
tend to respond well to one-on-one mentoring by their peers; this may be
an effective way to address this problem.

Organizational factors

Having dealt with personal concerns and task concerns, we now shift our
view to the consequences of adoption and its effect on others in the
organization. This involves changing our focus from the individual to the
adopting organization as a whole. Organizational factors deal with the
overlap between what the district brings to the diffusion process and the
impact of the innovation. In Farquhar and Surry’s (1994) model,
organizational factors comprise both the physical environment at the point
of use and the support environment. 

Hoffman (1996) identified eight success factors for teachers who are
trying to adopt technology in their classrooms and to build the necessary
support environment—administrative support, staff development and
technical support, availability of technology, a technology use plan, a
district computer or technology coordinator, facilities and maintenance
personnel who are included in planning for technology integration,
assessment and evaluation methods that reflect new educational approaches,
and broad participation by individual teachers, groups and committees of
teachers, the school-site computer coordinator, the principal and other
administrators, and district-level coordinators or administrators,
superintendents, and school boards.

In contrast to Farquhar and Surry’s (1994) physical/support environment
factors and Hoffman’s eight success factors, Gross, Giacquinta, and
Bernstein (1970) focused on organizational factors from a management point
of view. Their factors included a clear vision of the innovation provided
by administrators to all teachers, stakeholders and users, the staff’s
skills and capacity to implement the innovation, the availability of
required tools and resources, the compatibility of the school’s
organizational arrangements with the innovation (including grading and
scheduling), taking account the difficulties to which teachers may be
exposed as they begin to implement the innovation, providing mechanisms to
identify and cope with unanticipated problems that may emerge during the
period of implementation, and the wholehearted support of the
administration for the innovation and the adopting teachers.

Recent researchers have begun to integrate the technological, individual,
and organizational factors in a more systemic fashion. Stockdill and
Morehouse (1992) identified five critical factors that affect the
successful adoption of new technology: educational need, user
characteristics, content characteristics, technology considerations, and
organizational capacity. Farquhar and Surry (1994) also built on Stockdill
and Morehouse’s model in developing their Adoption Analysis Tool.
Successful implementation requires not only that adopters buy in to the
use and application of the innovation, but also that the adopting
organization provide a worthy environment in which to use the new
technology and all of the resources and services needed to install and
maintain it.

Wolf and Black (1993) identified three organizational factors that
affected the BVSD’s use of the Internet—time, training, and resources.
Throughout our evaluation, however, it became evident that these three
factors were multi-faceted, and that several related issues were being
confounded in these simplistic concepts. Key aspects of the physical
environment were classroom connectivity, network capacity, scheduling of
laboratories and computers, and availability of equipment and supplies. 

Specific support environment factors that emerged throughout our own
evaluation were administrative vision and support; district policies such
as site-based decision making, planning time and grading policies;
acceptable use policies and handling of student accounts; availability of
communication channels; mechanisms for identifying and solving problems;
availability and timeliness of training workshops; availability of
resource and technical support personnel; availability of documentation,
troubleshooting lists, and job aids; availability of on-line support;
maintenance of the network and associated equipment; lack of release time
to pursue training; lack of incentives for teachers who take on new duties
as a result of their Internet expertise; lack of a shared knowledge base
of curriculum implementation resources; non-district and global support
via the Internet; and cooperation with other grants.

Beyond providing support through making the physical technology
available, a district as an organization needs to be sure that the new
effort is aligned with the district wide visions and policies, as well as
integrated into the established communication channels.

Learning in the Classroom

Organizational learning

Moving from adoption of technology to the use of that technology for
teaching and learning, we begin with Lewis and Romiszowski’s (1996)
concept of a learning organization that continually updates the skills of
its members and, in the process, is itself transformed. An educational
system must be studied as a learning organization in which all members are
actively involved in both planning and participating in learning programs
adapted to the specific requirements of the changing work or social
environments in which members of that system find themselves. This
holistic approach is the hallmark of the Engaged Learning model of Jones,
Valdez, Nowakowski, and Rasmussen (1995), which forms the basis for the
fourth module of the Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion
Model—instructional factors.

Engaged learning deals with teachers as well as students, all
participating in a sociocultural learning community. To Lave, this also
means that:

Rather than a teacher/learner dyad, this points to a richly diverse field
of essential actors and, with it, other forms of relationships of
participation (Lave & Wenger, 1996:56). 

Engaged learning is a constructivist model that comprises the various
learning styles and roles of teachers and students in the classroom,
authentic and relevant tasks, multidisciplinary curriculum, interactive
and generative activities, and a learning context that emphasizes
collaborative knowledge-building. Jones and his colleagues identified
eight variables that are related to a set of indicators of engaged
learning: the teacher’s vision of learning; relevant, challenging tasks;
ongoing, authentic, performance-based assessment; a constructivist
instructional model responsive to student needs; the concept of students
as part of a learning community incorporating multiple perspectives;
collaborative learning; the role of the teacher as a facilitator, guide,
and co-learner/co-investigator; and the roles of students as cognitive
apprentices, peer mentors, and producers of products that are of real use
to themselves and others.

In the BVSD, the teacher’s vision of learning is beginning to be impacted
by the new imperative to align classroom curriculum with state and
district standards. With the growing use of technology in the classroom,
the teacher’s role is also beginning to change. Some of the more
innovative BVSD teachers are now using students as assistants;
collaborating in sharing ideas, resources and lessons with colleagues;
sifting through and organizing relevant classroom activities from the
massive volume of information available on the Internet; generating
meaningful lesson plans, ideas, and activities for classroom use; and
tailoring existing Internet resources to meet the needs of the classroom.

Though the initial plan of the BVIP included both the development and
delivery of comprehensive district wide Internet training for all
interested teachers and the establishment of a sharable resource of
curriculum-related resources and activities, only the former has been
fully implemented to date. The first steps toward establishing a sharable
database of on-line resources organized by subject area were undertaken by
the BVIP, in cooperation with the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project,
Creating Connections , when the project leaders created SAMI (the URL for
SAMI is SAMI is an acronym for
the Science And Math Initiative (SAMI) database that contains curriculum
resources for science and math, information about grants, sources from
which to download software, and helpful information for new Internet

The BVIP project leaders also assisted district teachers who built several
school home pages that were linked both to student activities and to
resources that could be shared by teachers. As part of our evaluation
activities, we assisted a work group of BVSD teachers who created a
classification scheme for Internet-related resources. This product,
nicknamed CLUE, will be used to filter and organize district wide
curriculum-related ideas, activities, lesson plans, and resources that can
be accessed via the Internet.

Student-centered learning

In the Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model, teaching and
learning issues were divided into curriculum and engaged learning factors.
Curriculum factors comprised changes and enhancement in content; the
volume of content to be explored; planning and preparation; the
relationship of lessons and standards; the use and sharing of lesson
plans; and the evaluation and categorization of Internet-based activities.
The engaged learning factors were those of Jones and his colleagues, as
mentioned above. Both the multi-age class that participated in the Jason
project and a typical fifth grade class where students used the World Wide
Web to support their research for science papers were good examples of
engaged learning. In these classes, students worked in small groups to
build knowledge collectively, centered around areas of common interest.

In the CAST national study, the authors noted that:

Using the Internet can help students become independent, critical
thinkers, able to find information, organize and evaluate it, and then
effectively express their new knowledge and ideas in compelling ways.
(CAST, 1997:1)

The use of new technologies, especially telecommunications, enables
teachers and students alike to focus on developing skills that can be
transferred to real-world situations, rather than simply concentrating on
developing specific areas of content knowledge or subskills. 

The integration of technology and telecommunications into the classroom
leads to a host of electronically-supported instructional methods and
open-ended learning environments (OELEs) that can be supported by
computer-mediated communication (CMC) such as e-mail, and tried out in the
classroom. OELEs are characterized by experiential learning, student
self-direction, exploration and model-building in applied contexts, and an
internal locus of control (Surry, 1997). They build on such august
strategies as Bransford’s (CTGV, 1990) Anchored Instruction, in which
teaching and learning activities are designed around an “anchor” that is
some sort of case-study or problem situation; Savery and Duffy’s (1995)
Problem-Based Learning, which relies on collaborative investigation of
authentic cases and problems; and Scardamalia and Bereiter’s (1996)
computer-supported intentional learning environments (CSILE) that
facilitate the creation of knowledge as a social product. 

Using CMC, students could participate in a type of dialogue that Bereiter
defines as progressive discourse. Progressive discourse requires a
cultural framework that supports the advancement of knowledge among a
group of learners. Through asynchronous dialogue supported by CMC, people
with opposing views can engage in discourse that is not limited by time
and place, and that leads to a new understanding that everyone involved
agrees is superior to their own previous understanding (Bereiter, 1994:
6). Those who participate in progressive discourse make four commitments:
to work toward common understandings that are satisfactory to all
participants; to frame questions and propositions in ways that allow
evidence to be brought to bear on them; to expand the body of knowledge;
and to allow any belief to be subjected to criticism if it will advance
the discourse (Bereiter, 1994: 7). There is nothing about these
commitments that limits them to science—they define a type of discourse
that supports progress toward deeper understanding and leads to the
continuous social creation of new knowledge.

Charles Crook, a contemporary British advocate of computer-supported
collaborative learning (CSCL), discusses two types of continuity that are
supported by computer-mediated environments: lateral continuity, in which
students generalize their understandings in important ways to new
understandings; and longitudinal continuity, a type of narrative state
that furnishes a shared, recognized platform for students’ next set of
explorations. Longitudinal continuity can be described as the creation of
an integrating “common knowledge”—a set of shared experiences and mutual
understandings—among members of a learning community.

It arises in talk which is used to knit together the sequences of
disparate actions and observations that constitute some learning exercise.
(Crook, 1994: 107).

Since CMC supports this type of dialogue asynchronously, irrespective of
distance, it is an effective resource for the support of teacher-pupil
interaction. It lends itself to student dialogue at all levels of
education, from CSILE conferences at the elementary school level
(Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1996) to graduate students who participate in
on-line conferences such as those supported by Colorado Education On-line
(CEO, a First-Class BBS system) at the University of Colorado. Through the
use of e-mail and on-line conferencing, students now work together
asynchronously to share common understandings of learning experiences, to
reflect on their shared experiences and understandings, to expand the
common body of knowledge, to weigh alternative solutions to problems and
explanations of effects, and to engage in dialogue with other learners,
including other students and experts throughout the world.


The use of telecommunications to support engaged learning goes hand in
hand with the philosophy of constructivism. Brooks and Brooks (1993)
present five principles of constructivism: problems must be relevant to
students; curriculum should be structured around primary concepts;
teachers should seek to understand and value students’ point of view;
teachers should adapt curriculum to address students’ suppositions; and
authentic assessment should be used as a tool to serve the learner rather
than strictly as an accountability device. Strategies for teachers who
wish to become constructivist educators include allowing student responses
to drive lessons; using authentic, primary sources of raw data; and making
tacit understandings of concepts explicit before sharing their own
understandings of those concepts. 

An instructional strategy that supports the constructivist approach is
Cognitive Flexibility Theory (Spiro et al, 1994). Ideally suited to the
hypertext learning environment of the World Wide Web, and relying on
multiple representations of content and diverse case studies, the theory
emphasizes the importance of giving learners the opportunity to construct
their own representations of information so that they can transfer their
knowledge and skills beyond their initial learning situation. 

Web-based instruction is another approach that can engage a global
audience using the World Wide Web as a medium. It involves creating a
learning environment where resources are available and collaboration is
supported, where web-based activities are incorporated into an overall
learning framework, and where novices and experts alike are supported.
Web-based learning environments span a spectrum from unstructured to
highly structured, each with its advantages and disadvantages, each
appropriate for a particular situation. 

In unstructured activities such as building student home pages or
participating in on-line conferences, expertise is irregularly distributed
as individual students decide on the sophistication of a project or their
level of participation. In loosely structured activities such as building
a class or school home page, expertise is still irregularly distributed,
but the learning group begins to self-organize as members contribute their
unique expertise and, in turn, learn new skills and extend the group’s
common knowledge base. In mostly structured activities such as case-based
instruction, each student researches an aspect of the problem and
contributes individual sections to the final, collaboratively produced
case study. Finally, highly structured activities such as creating a class
annotated bibliography tend to have a standard format and a fixed learning
goal in mind (Sherry & Wilson, 1997: 70-71).

The shift from instructor-dominated instruction to student-centered
learning and transformative instructional design has important
implications for the instructor’s teaching style, epistemology, and vision
of the students as learners. First, the instructor’s role becomes that of
a facilitator rather than a repository of answers. Moreover, students
begin to realize that there are no simple answers to ill-structured
problems. At the same time as this realization begins to stimulate deeper
understandings within the student, it can be very threatening to an
instructor who desires to exert total control over the learning process.
Lastly, students no longer draw on resources that are contained within the
walls of the classroom or the school library—they are able to access an
unlimited number of people, activities, and knowledge bases distributed
throughout the world, which they will then need to carefully filter and
verify. As a result, they are able to present and disseminate polished
products that they have created themselves (Sherry & Wilson, 1997: 68).

Another new instructional method that is just beginning to be tried out in
the classroom is a variation of the Socratic Method, described by Wason
(1996). Instead of lecture-based instruction followed by testing, students
can learn by a system of carefully developed questions that guide them
through the learning process, rather than using questions as vehicles to
test the learning product. Wason’s model combines three elements:
*	an effective system of resource access with content-relevant
navigation and landmarks; 
*	sequences of questions used as the underlying instructional tool
that enable students to discover knowledge relationships and acquire
learning skills; and 
*	a technology-integrated model of teaching whereby teachers select
questions matched to the needs of the specific students, who then work
asynchronously, either alone or in self-selected groups. 

As a result, the educational process becomes learner-centered and the
learning process takes precedence over the learning product.

Learner-centered education significantly changes the philosophy of how one
teaches, the relationship between teacher and student, the way in which a
classroom is structured and managed, and the nature of the curriculum

At the heart is the idea that people learn best when engrossed in the
topic, motivated to seek out new knowledge and skills because they need
them in order to solve the problem at hand. The goal is active
exploration, construction, and learning rather than the passivity of
lecture attendance and textbook reading. The major theme is one of
focusing education around a set of realistic, intrinsically motivating
problems (Norman & Spohrer, 1996:26).

Norman and Spohrer (1996) describe three dimensions of learner centered
education: engagement, effectiveness, and viability. As in the Jones et
al. model, engagement is the primary advantage of problem driven,
learner-centered education because an engaged learner is a motivated
learner. Effectiveness deals with how much students learn. 

The major concern of traditional teaching methods is effectiveness: how
much do students learn? After all, if there is no learning of the topics
of concern, then no matter how engaged, no matter how viable, the method
is of little value. (Norman & Spohrer, 1996: 26)

Since much of student-initiated learning is authentic and relevant to the
needs of the individual student, authentic assessment becomes a crucial
part of authentic learning. Viability deals with many of the concerns
expressed by new teacher-trainees, as described previously in Hall’s
stages of concern, such as “Is the problem aligned with real curriculum
needs?” “Can the technology support the new instructional practice?”, and
“Is the cost or time involved prohibitive?” 

Such cutting-edge models as Wason’s Socratic Method and Norman’s
learner-centered education are fraught with difficulties, especially in a
district like the BVSD where the current emphasis is now shifting toward
instruction based on model content standards and where the type of
assessment used by the district is for the most part still
norm-referenced. Though innovative, constructivist strategies have been
used with great success in some BVSD classrooms, they are not necessarily
applicable for typical classes that were observed in the BVIP case study.

Reaffirmation or Rejection

Though the training program was eminently successful, and though there
were examples of highly innovative, creative projects such as the Jason
oceanography home page and the Vocal Point electronic newspaper by
students throughout the district, there was evidence of a negative
feedback loop. During the initial stages of the BVIP, there was
enthusiastic buy-in by the administration. However, near the end of the
implementation period, the superintendent resigned and the original school
board was replaced by more conservative members who reflected the new wave
of back to the basics that was becoming popular throughout the community
at large. Bond money to purchase computers and connections was held up for
over a year. The volume of content had increased dramatically, yet there
was still no common, district wide base of curriculum-related resources
for teachers to tap. To add to the turmoil, many of the in-building
technology specialists were being reassigned to the classroom due in part
to continuing cuts in funding and planning time within the district and in
part to the belief of the school board that technology integration should
occur in each classroom, not within labs that are supervised by technology
specialists. Classroom teachers were now faced with a critical
decision—whether to confirm their innovation-decision process or to reject

Although both the liberal and the conservative sides of the political
constituency currently express support for technology, each sees the role
of technology in a different light. Issues that are important to the
district such as curriculum, standards, site-based management, the role of
phonics, and high school requirements, are now being debated. The role of
the Internet will be affected by these decisions in many ways including
usage, financing, staff development, and availability of equipment. With
the cuts in funding that have been implemented by the new school board,
less money and time for exploration and practice will be available for
supporting the staff development that is so essential in introducing new
Internet tools and resources and in maintaining the current level of
expertise during the rapid evolution of the technology. The funding cuts
will affect both staff development and curriculum development. An example
of the new conservatism involves reimbursing teachers 100% for
content-related professional development, but only 50% for
pedagogy-related professional development. The primary emphasis of the
BVIP was the training of new users, which is considered pedagogy-based
professional development. Teachers remarked:

The School Board has to learn how important ongoing staff development is
in all areas of instruction and learning. (A BVSD teacher)

Well, the teachers feel pressure from the community...why aren’t you
following this? Are you doing the standards? I mean, how is that going to
change? (Another BVSD teacher)

Often, teachers questioned whether or not their training was really worth
all the effort, especially if they took on new duties and responsibilities
as a result of their newfound expertise, without concomitant incentives
such as release time, a lightened work load, or extra pay. Their dilemma
was compounded by an unrelated planning problem—the training sessions were
“ahead of their time” because most schools were still not connected at the
time the bulk of the BVIP training sessions took place. To add yet another
barrier, the BVSD began to phase out in-building technology resource
personnel just about the time that all of the schools were about to be

Studies of failed innovation such as those of Gross et al. (1970) and
Teasley (1996) often provide insights into the organizational factors that
affect the diffusion process. These researchers reported that, though the
initial attitude of the school administrators and teachers was positive
and that they were willing to expend the time and effort to implement the
new technology, they ran into difficulties along the way. Teachers began
to express frustration with the project, and administrators failed to give
it their full support. Moreover, the administrators had no mechanisms in
place for dealing with unforeseen problems that might arise during the
implementation process. Communications broke down and teachers continued
to run into problems with which they simply could not cope.

Besides administrative support issues, there are also cultural issues to
be dealt with. Rogers is very clear on this point—the social system has a
direct effect on diffusion through its norms and other system-level
qualities, as well as an indirect influence through its individual members
(Rogers, 1995: 23). Similarly, Peled, Peled, and Alexander (1994) and Egan
(1985) view a school district not simply as an educational organization,
but as an ecological environment with a common cultural blueprint that
sets the pattern for the structures and processes that occur within and
across the systems (i.e., the classroom, the school and its
administrators, the community, and the regional policy making
institutions). Likewise, Morison suggests that opposition to innovations
is cultural in nature and stems from the normal instinct to protect one’s
self and one’s way of life. People will withhold judgment or even express
disbelief about the dramatic claims of a new innovation. They will try to
protect the existing system with which they identify themselves as well as
the existing society of which they consider themselves a part.

Lewis and Romiszowski (1996) found that there is a considerable
organizational learning curve to be traversed before organizations not
only assimilate a new technology into their culture but also accommodate
their culture to be able to profit from the technology to the extent that
may be possible. They suggest that familiarity with the new technology and
the ability to apply it in one context do not necessarily guarantee either
the ability or the motivation to use it successfully in novel contexts or
to integrate it in a major way into a new instructional program. When
networking begins to be used seriously, the nature of the teaching and
learning environment is inevitably changed.

Though a complex system tends to maintain a stable state, it may begin to
change itself—provided it begins by defining for itself its “grand object”
and seeing to it that the grand object is communicated to every member of
the group (Morison, 1984: 142). Peters remarks:

What matters is that everyone who works for and with you observe you
embracing the topic with both arms and your calendar. What they need to
observe is your obvious, visible and dramatic, determination to batter
down all barriers to understanding and implementation. (Peters, 1988:

In summary, the adoption and diffusion process can be viewed in three
ways: as a social process (Rogers; Farquhar & Surry), as a cultural
process (Peled et al.; Egan), and as a systems process (Morison). These
overlap, since systems are cultures, and cultures have social processes.
Within the system there are barriers to diffusion. Some are sociocultural,
such as the individual characteristics of the end users; others are
involved with maintaining the stability of the system as it presently
exists. Moreover, the system itself imposes constraints on the adoption
and diffusion process. To be successful, a new technological innovation
requires a worthy environment that can support it; resources to install,
implement, and maintain it; readily available, two-way communications
channels; and an overall administrative vision that is clearly
communicated to all members of the system.

What are the possible future uses of these models?

In this paper we have dealt with three models: the BVIP implementation
model per se; the learning/adoption trajectory of learner-trainee,
adopter, co-learner, and confirmer/disconfirmer; and the four-module
Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model. We’ll now view each of
these retrospectively.

The BVIP implementation model

The BVIP itself proved to be a dynamic, evolving program. There were four
key aspects that made it very different from the traditional Rogers
model—decentralized decision making, collaboration with other funding
sources, an evolving technological innovation (in contrast to a stable
innovation), and a training program that was based on participatory

In a decentralized system that uses site-based management, innovations
tend to be more attuned to the individual users’ needs and problems. As a
result, the BVIP had substantial grassroots support and buy-in by local
teachers who were the primary participants in the training program. This
greatly assisted the horizontal diffusion of Internet use within
individual schools at the grassroots level. However, as the BVIP evolved,
and as the policy makers became more conservative, the gap began to widen
between the teachers and the other three levels of the total ecological
environment, namely, the school administration, the community as a whole,
and the district’s policy making bodies such as the BVSD School Board.

Part of the success of the BVIP was its collaboration with other funding
sources such as the National Science Foundation, the Annenberg/CPB Math
and Science Project, district wide bond funding, and funding sources
within the individual schools. This cooperation resulted in wide
dissemination of BVIP resources beyond the schools and the district as a
whole—especially the nationwide training of rural teachers in the Creating
Connections project that was carried out by the BVIP initial cohort of
peer trainers.

In the traditional diffusion model, an innovation is a stable entity. In
contrast, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and the district network all
evolved significantly during the implementation phase of the BVIP. Hence,
they all became less complex and more usable, and their obvious benefits
became more visible. As a result, users’ perceptions evolved over time,
and they began to perceive the use of telecommunications as less
intimidating and more user-friendly. Toward the end of his book, Rogers
points out the difference between diffusion of technology and the
classical diffusion model:

Technology has often been assumed to be an objective and external force
that affects organizational structure. A more recent and realistic view of
technology in an organization is to see it as the product of human
interaction, as its meaning is gradually worked out through
discussion...the viewpoint is that of the social construction of
technology. (Rogers, 1995: 396)

With the evolution of the Internet, and with the close attention that was
paid to feedback from new trainees, the BVIP trainers successfully
instituted and maintained a flexible training program that utilized
iterative, participatory design. In the Human Performance Technology (HPT)
literature, training programs based on participatory design have usually
met with a greater degree of success than ordinary training programs since
they are more sensitive to the needs of typical new users.

The learning/adoption trajectory

As the system evolved, teacher-trainees tended to follow a four-part
learning/adoption trajectory beginning with the training workshops;
continuing through the adoption-decision process; to experimenting with
the Internet to support student learning and becoming co-learners with
their students; and finally to the confirmation/disconfirmation decision. 

Through interviews and observations we found that those teachers for whom
telecommunication tools became such a distraction that they lost sight of
what they were trying to do, quit. Those who valued their newfound skills,
who did not let their frustrations get in their way, and who always kept
their desired outcomes in sight, succeeded in creating a learning
environment in which their students could polish their meta-skills and
produce exemplary, creative products and performances. Thus, the more
innovative teachers began to move in a spiral trajectory rather than a
simple loop as they assisted their colleagues with troubleshooting the
equipment, gave inservice sessions at their schools, and became the second
round of peer trainers for their fellow teachers throughout the district.
Between these extremes lay the majority of teachers who were in the
process of moving through the different stages in the learning/adoption
trajectory, various stages of concern, and various levels of use
throughout the district.

The Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model

The four modules of this static model—technological, individual,
organizational, and instructional factors—proved invaluable as a research
model for gathering, analyzing, and reporting the immense amount of data
that were collected from the BVIP case study. Together, they encompass all
the major variables that have been identified by other researchers who are
evaluating large scale telecommunications projects. 

This model works well for collecting and presenting data, but it
does not lend itself to creating technology implementation plans. That is
why, in retrospect, it was essential to reflect on both the adoption
process and the learning process that took place throughout the training
program, and to develop a dynamic model that melds the two.


Throughout this evaluation, we have learned much from the vast array of
barriers and breakthroughs that characterized the BVIP. Though the Rogers
model may apply well to corporate settings, it fails to capture the
intricacies of the learning and adoption process that take place when an
evolving technological innovation is introduced into a district
characterized by site-based management. As Martin and Zlotolow (1997)
point out, in order to implement systemic rather than piecemeal change, it
is important to address the decision makers who are responsible for, and
able to, bring the system capacity up to the level that whole-system
change can be made, as well as addressing the implementers who carry out
the change and the influencers who act as opinion leaders for the adopting
population—here, the peer trainers and the adopting classroom teachers.
This involves communicating a shared vision among all stakeholders and
“advertising successes”, taking advantage of multiple channels of

The diffusion of technology throughout an educational institution cannot
be seen as separate from the learning process that all members of the
organization go through as they learn about their new roles in relation to
the technology, as they struggle to transform their perspectives toward
technology in general, and as they begin to appreciate the value that it
can add to the teaching/learning process. 

Though teacher-trainees found themselves at various points along the
learning/adoption trajectory throughout the five-year implementation phase
of the project, school administrators and key policy makers were
apparently immune to this process. The very client/change agent empathy
that contributed to the success of the training program tended to hamper
both the vertical diffusion of the project to those key individuals who
had the power to make decisions and allocate resources throughout the
district as a whole, and the horizontal diffusion between school sites
that had customized the innovation to suit their own unique needs. Had the
current administrators participated in the training program, perhaps this
gap may have been narrowed.

If there is a single lesson to be learned from the BVIP experiment, it is
the same as that learned by Peled, Peled, and Anderson—information
technology interventions cannot be separated from their ecological
contexts, or from the educational activities that they enhance (Peled et
al., 1994: 49). Moreover, technology-based projects that aim to bring
about major change in all of the interconnected ecological systems,
including classroom accommodations, school modifications, centralized
policies, visions of learning, and beliefs and attitude-based behaviors,
must aim not at individual participants, but must continue to address the
entire ecological environment, including classroom teachers, school
administrators, parents and the community, and the policy making bodies. 


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