According to Rogers (2003), the elements of diffusion for new technological innovations are (a) innovation, (b) communication channels, (c) time, and (d) social system (pp. 35-37). In time, successful diffusion of an innovation takes place after a social structure has gone through a series of communications. The diffusion of a new idea or innovation can be a “hit or miss” phenomenon, and according to Rogers (2003), it generally takes a long time for an innovation to be widely accepted. Communication plays an important role in transmitting innovations. The manner in which individuals act as “change agents” can be a determining factor for a successful diffusion of innovation (Rogers, 2003).
This paper aims to examine three innovations scheduled for presentations at two upcoming educational technology conferences and to evaluate the pros and cons of these three innovations, including their features, potential effects, benefits, and barriers in education. It also aims to discuss these innovations and determine if they are simple or difficult to adopt. Finally, this paper’s intent is to select an innovation out of the three discussed as the ideal innovation in light of Rogers’s (2003) four elements of diffusion.
Innovations and Conferences
The first innovation for discussion is “iMovie, an animated video program” for curriculum development and “student learning” to be presented at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for educators and library specialists who serve pre-kindergarten to high school students (Turnbull, 2013). The second innovation for discussion is the utilization of digital badges for educators and technology specialists at ISTE (Flickinger, 2013). The third innovation will be presented at the Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (CDTL), focusing on virtual and face-to-face open houses for different departments in an institution (Britto, M., 2013). These innovations are designed to assist educators, library specialists, and administrators in engaging their students in the 21st century classrooms.
iMovie2 in classrooms. While watching a movie is not a new concept in education, more innovations that can help educators create their own movies to motivate their students are increasing in popularity. For students having difficulties in their classes, audiovisual resources such as movies can capture their interests and help them understand abstract and concrete concepts. Educators utilize iMovie2 (a newer version of iMovie by Apple) to create lesson plans enhanced with special effects and sounds. Howard (2001) utilized iMovie2 to create movies for her history class. She created “biography” videos, enhanced with “images, voice-overs, titles, and music” (Howard, 2001, p. 18). There are two primary advantages of using iMovie2: (a) the user does not have to be a seasoned videographer to create captivating movies and (b) the user has freedom and flexibility in enhancing movies with captions or titles and audio-visual effects (Howard, 2001). However, educators who are not familiar with Apple products might find it difficult to use iMovie2. In addition, making iMovie videos is “time-consuming and movie footages can take up large amounts of hard-drive space” (Howard, 2001, p.21). IMovie2 requires FireWire hard-drive to run it (Howard, 2001), contributing to iMovie2’s primary barrier: its specificity in the system (Macintosh) and hard- drive (FireWire) requirements could deter educators from using iMovie2 simply because it is incompatible with their schools’ systems.
Simple or difficult? For some educators, making a movie from iMovie2 is simple. However, most educators may not be able adopt this technology in their classrooms. Several of them do not have the specific computer system (Apple Macintosh) or the hard drive (FireWire) to run iMovie2. Most importantly, many educators may find iMovie2 too complicated to use, especially if they are not familiar with using Apple products. Even though iMovie2 poses some barriers to many educators, it is reassuring to know that personal computer (PC) users can produce educational video clips with other applications. Sites such as “goanimate.com” or “commoncraft.com” are good alternative sources for making video clips for educators because they provide tutorials and discounted costs.
Digital badges instead of diplomas. Several institutions that provide massive open online courses (MOOC) are generating digital badges for their students instead of letter grades for mastering specific skills sets and for completing assessments (Young, 2012). Taken from the concept of badges for “Boy Scouts,” some online schools use digital badges instead of actual degree programs (Young, 2012). Digital badges are advantageous in motivating students. Students who feel that acquiring diplomas, or degrees could take a long time to accomplish, would acquire early recognition from digital badges. Frequent motivation and visual diagrams indicating students’ specific learning milestones are reasons why “digital badges” are popular in digital classrooms (Young, 2012).
A disadvantage when using digital badges is that students tend to work for flashy “badges” instead of authentically working to complete their programs (Young, 2012). In addition, creative and technically proficient students can make up their own badges, reducing their courses’ values. Finally, as a primary barrier, digital badges are not college degrees, and including them on resumes will not warrant future job interviews. A digital badge’s flashy feature for motiving a student to complete an activity does not necessarily indicate that it can motivate a student to persist in a program. Students still need to persist in their degree programs for future employers to recognize them as competent, well-rounded, and employable professionals.
Simple or difficult? Digital badges are new to online educators. They are excellent tools to motivate learners. Online learners welcome frequent recognition to help them move forward from one lesson to another. However, implementing digital badges may be difficult for educators to set up. Instructional specialists or information technology (IT) personnel are more equipped to design badges and imbed them in systems than educators. In some institutions and industries, implementing digital badges instead of actual grades or degrees do not see digital badges as competency indicators. Lastly, designing and implementing digital badges could take a long time to implement. Depending on how an institution is set up, administrators, IT managers, and educators need to approve this innovation. In addition, institutions need to consider all of their stakeholders including investors, students, and accrediting bodies when implementing digital badges instead of letter or percentage grades to students. Several stakeholders may not see digital badges as excellent ways to promote learners from one level to the next.
Virtual open houses. Several organizations are quick to adopt virtual technologies for their annual events. For example, an open house to promote MBA programs was hosted by Touro University in 2012 (PR., 2012). One of the advantages of conducting a virtual event such as an institutional open house is its feature to deliver its message to a broader audience. Virtual open houses eliminate work force and cost constraints for organizations. Interested parties can visit the organization’s website and participate fully in a virtual open house.
The cost to send recruiters or representatives to face-to-face events, along with the costs of multi-media materials, rented spaces, and advertising could constrain an organization’s budget. With virtual open houses, participants have the option to print out marketing materials or virtually try out new products such as software applications or programs. Participants can utilize virtual open houses to network with other participants, depending on how the virtual open house is set up. Finally, organizations of virtual open houses can eliminate travel costs incurred by their staff. Overall, the primary advantage of virtual open houses is the elimination of substantial costs incurred with organizing face-to-face open houses.
A disadvantage of a virtual open house is an organization’s potential failure to hire or select appropriate individuals who can design open house platforms that are compatible and user-friendly to a wide range of participants. In addition, participants of virtual events expect flawless transmissions of information. Therefore, as McNeill (2013) stated, virtual event organizers should “borrow from Hollywood” in order to produce captivating virtual atmosphere (p. 61). Organizing successful virtual open houses require expertise in directing and producing virtual meetings that can capture everyone’s attention.
The representative of the virtual open house must be knowledgeable in providing support for individuals having technical difficulties. Not only do they need to answer questions about the organizations, they also need to answer technical questions. Participants could have difficulties downloading documents, viewing the videos, or hearing the audio parts of the presentations (McNeill, 2013). Therefore, the primary barrier in conducting virtual open houses is its meticulous requirement to select a chat moderator who is also the organization’s representative, and who possesses technical expertise to help participants with computer-related issues.
The second primary barrier for virtual open houses is the compatibility of the organization’s software programs and other applications that can open visual materials, along with the video and audio facets of the event. The usability and compatibility features should be considered when designing virtual open houses. Conducting virtual open houses will become more popular as people realize their features and benefits. Virtual open houses can save event managers and participants from incurring large amount of time, work force, and costs while capturing a worldwide audience.
Simple or difficult? Conducting a virtual open house is simple once all the components are in place. The primary difficulty that organizations may encounter when implementing virtual open houses is their unfamiliarity with this emerging technology. However, once the virtual platform is set up, many event managers, as well as participants can take advantage of this innovation. The difficulty lies on the organization’s decision to select an expert or a group of experts to set up the open house platform and advertise the event. Virtual open house organizers and hosts are responsible for ensuring the usability and compatibility of their virtual platforms with prospective participants’ web browsers and systems, but, after all the details are in place, setting up virtual events such as open houses, career fairs, and other virtual events is very simple and can be repeated easily.
Innovation Selected in Light of Rogers’ Elements to Diffuse an Innovation
Setting up virtual open houses is the choice of innovation for this paper. The “cause and effects of this technology is certain” (Rogers, 2003, p. 12). Virtual open houses are designed to cut costs, labor, and time, which are essential components designated for face-face-face open houses. Virtual open houses, when designed extensively with consideration of its usability and compatibility, can affect cross-geographical audience. In addition, it can be replicated easily.
The “communication channels” for implementing virtual open houses is broad (Rogers, 2003, p. 18). Any organization can conduct a virtual open house with a PC. In addition, many participants can attend virtual open houses with either PCs or Mac computers. The “rate of adopting virtual open houses” depends on the organizations and their personnel (Rogers, 2003, p. 21). Organizations may have all five adopters for this innovation, “(a) innovators, (b) early adopters, (c) early majority, (d) late majority, and (e) laggards” (Rogers, 2003, p. 21). The organization’s leadership and ability to communicate all the benefits of virtual open houses, including its primary feature of expanding its audience or clientele may generate more “innovators” and “early adopters” (Rogers, 2003, p. 21). Finally, virtual open houses are applicable to any type of “social system” (Rogers, 2003, p. 24). A virtual open house will be a welcoming addition to several organizations and institutions whose motives include attracting a large amount of new and existing clientele or prospective employees.
Britto, M. (2013). Launching a virtual and face-to-face open house for your department. Information session at the 29th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (CDTL), Madison, WI.
Commoncraft (2013.). Seattle, WA: Commoncraft.
Flickinger, B. (2013). Using badges to motivate young students to develop technology skills. Poster session at the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTA), San Antonio, TX.
Goanimate (2013). Bay Area, CA: Goanimate.
Howard, M. (2001). Team up with digital video and iMovie for Social Studies Excitement. Library talk, 14(5), 18-20, 22.
McNeill, D. (2013). Creating engaging virtual events. Professional Safety 58(1), 61-62.
PR, N. (2012), January 19). Touro University Worldwide Hosts First MBA Virtual Open House on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. PR Newswire U.S.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Turnbull, C. (2013, June). Animated video to liven up your curriculum and student learning. Poster session at the meeting of the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTA), San Antonio, TX.
Young, J. R. (2012). “Badges” Earned online pose challenge to traditional college diplomas. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 78(2), 48-52.