DETAILED REVIEW OF ROGERS’ DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS THEORY AND EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY-RELATED STUDIES BASED ON ROGERS’ THEORY
The process of adopting new innovations has been studied for over 30 years, and one of the most popular adoption models is described by Rogers in his book, Diffusion of Innovations (Sherry & Gibson, 2002). Much research from a broad variety of disciplines has used the model as a framework. Dooley (1999) and Stuart (2000) mentioned several of these disciplines as political science, public health, communications, history, economics, technology, and education, and defined Rogers’ theory as a widely used theoretical framework in the area of technology diffusion and adoption.
Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory is the most appropriate for investigating the adoption of technology in higher education and educational environments (Medlin, 2001; Parisot, 1995). In fact, much diffusion research involves technological innovations so Rogers (2003) usually used the word “technology” and “innovation” as synonyms. For Rogers, “a technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces the uncertainty in the cause-effect relationships involved in achieving a desired outcome” (p. 13). It is composed of two parts: hardware and software. While hardware is “the tool that embodies the technology in the form of a material or physical object,” software is “the information base for the tool” (Rogers, 2003, p. 259). Since software (as a technological innovation) has a low level of observability, its rate of adoption is quite slow.
For Rogers (2003), adoption is a decision of “full use of an innovation as the best course of action available” and rejection is a decision “not to adopt an innovation” (p. 177). Rogers defines diffusion as “the process in which an innovation is communicated thorough certain channels over time among the members of a social system” (p. 5). As expressed in this definition, innovation, communication channels, time, and social system are the four key components of the diffusion of innovations.