What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Diffusion of Innovations for Dummies

February 10, 2012, 1:41 PM
500x500_413920_file

Question: What do VCRs, Betamax players, condom use in Thailand, and hybrid corn seeds in Iowa have in common?

Answer: The adoption of these innovations each followed a logical, predictable framework that can be applied to (most) any innovation.

The Diffusion of Innovations theory has been used in hundreds of studies including fields such as education, social sciences, health, agriculture, anthropology, business, and economics. In short, it has been used a lot to help understand the adoption of innovations independent of time, space, and location.

School leaders often are charged with trying to get more stakeholders to adopt a given innovation quicker. For school leaders trying to implement technology-suffused change, this innovation adoption framework is especially useful. The theory describes five intrinsic innovation characteristics that impact the adoption of an innovation. These are useful when trying to understand how or why innovations are or are not adopted.

Relative Advantage. The introduction of an innovation replaces or modifies an existing practice. Innovations in classrooms often fail because teachers feel overburdened and thus most innovations are seen as "just something else to do." Thus technological innovations in schools might be introduced as something that reduces work, makes a job easier, allows a person to do their job better, expands personalization, or eases the workload. Think of this as the ‘build a better mousetrap’ principle.

Complexity. Initiating technology-based reforms usually means that a teacher needs to learn new software or incorporate a new technology into her classroom practices. Continued professional development is essential to get teachers on board. Having a one-off training day is not enough. We have seen schools successfully use students as dedicated teacher tutors, implement technology hotlines, use social networking as tech support, and include one-on-one training. This can be thought of as the ‘keep it simple’ principle.

Compatibility. Any technology innovation must be compatible to the needs of the end user. If a school implements a 1:1 laptop initiative then it needs to be compatible with the needs and behaviors of students and teachers. Thus school leaders need to understand how stakeholders will use the devices and for what purposes. Knowing this will inform the decision about whether to adopt laptops, tablets, smartphones, or implement a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) policy. This characteristic also would include filtering policies. If teachers and students regularly rely on Google applications and the district blocks these tools, then the compatibility principle is harmed. Think of this as the ‘dress for the occasion’ principle.

Trialability. For innovations to take hold, people need to try an innovation before they commit to it. This includes giving guided practice and plenty of one-on-one assistance where needed. Keep in mind that not everyone needs the same amount of guided practice. This practice should be differentiated. Think of this as the ‘try before you buy’ principle.

Observability. Teachers need to see others using the innovation. For example, if the innovation is using iPads to evaluate students, teachers need to see other teachers doing this and also need to see administrators using iPads to evaluate teachers. Think of this as the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ principle.

As a school leader who is about to launch a technological innovation, have you planned for these characteristics?

As a school leader who has seen a technological innovation fall short of expectations, was one or more of these characteristics missing?

As a school leader who is in the middle of implementing a technological innovation, do you see these characteristics as vital?

 

 

Diffusion of Innovations fo...

Newsletter: Share: