Pushing String … adopting new technology

Many organizations are faced with investment decisions related to new information technology, including how to best support a corporate on-line training program. Many organizations struggle with where to begin and how to assess risk. A sound analysis needs to reflect barriers to implementing innovation, assessing risks, and strategic management of these risks. Though the decision may be cost-effective, significant effort must be expended for successful technology implementation, and organizational readiness and business culture must be taken into account.

Research supports the importance of properly preparing for change. Bates (2005) states that “merely replacing one technology with a newer technology does not necessarily bring learning benefits if the teaching method stays the same” (as cited in Fahy, 2007, p. 48). Murgatroyd (1992) agrees when he states “technological innovation is not valuable for its own sake; it is only valuable if it adds value to an existing service” (p.123).

Some of the barriers to implementing a new system include institutional momentum, added employee workload, inexperience with technology, loss of knowledge leverage by senior employees, turf protection, employee fear related to job loss, comfort with existing methods or technologies, lack of proven track record, and significant investment in existing technology modes (Kaplan and Norton, 2004; Kendall, 1998; Murgatroyd, 1992). For employees, it usually means more work, coupled with the fear that they have not had adequate input into the change, or a true understanding of the effect that this change will have.

Considering Havelock’s (1973, as cited in Fahy, 2007, p.8) observation that change is simply not wanted by many people, an organization may take on a significant risk in failing to adequately prepare instructors to incorporate software into their pedagogy. Indeed, instructors may very well view this innovation (as described by Greenspan (2000) and cited in Fahy, 2007, p.21) as a “Labour-delivering device and certainly not a Labour-saving one”. Sometimes a company stake their claim on the old adage, ‘if you build it, they will come’.

Fahy (2007) espouses that technology itself is less a barrier to change than is possessing a limited vision to use technology to create new educational environments. McKenzie (1991 as cited in Fahy 2007, p.70) says that “2-3 years is needed to allow time to produce skill transfer”. Time is an important factor in planning for substantial change, but equally important is the development of a shared vision between leadership and instructors that it is important to proactively incorporate technology into teaching pedagogy and practice.

References

Bates, A.W. (2005). Technology, e-learning and distance education. (2nd Edition), Routledge, New York, USA.

Fahy, P.J. (2007). Advanced Technology for Distance Education and Training. Athabasca, AB. Athabasca University.

Kaplan, R.S. & Norton, D.P. (2004). Strategy maps: converting intangible assets into tangible outcomes. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, USA.

Kendall, G.I. (1997). Securing the future: strategies for exponential growth using the theory of constraints. CRC Press LLC, USA

Murgatroyd, S. (1992). Business, education and distance education. In M.G. Moore (ed.), Distance education for corporate and military training p. 50-63. (Readings in Distance Education, no.3). Pennsylvania State University, USA.