For our seventh DATC Junto, I'd like us to focus on models of technology transition (or transfer). I would like us to focus on a technical report that two of my colleagues at the Software Engineering Institute wrote when I was there. I think it does a very nice job of summarizing models of technology transition. It's fairly long, so let's focus on this reading for our discussion. I'm also providing one additional reading from WebCT's corporate site. It's a white paper studying the diffusion of WebCT as a technology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Let's use that paper as a case example of how you could use Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations models to help you think about how a typical university technology could be adopted.
Here are the documents to read:
- (1993) Fowler, Priscilla, and Linda Levine, A Conceptual Framework for Software Technology Transition, Technical Report. CMU-SEI-93-TR-31. December, 1993. Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.
- (Date Unknown) van der Merwe, Antoinette, Implementing WebCT at Stellenbosch University: The Integrated Approach, White Paper, webCT.com.
Here are some questions to prompt our discussion:
Questions about the ITS egg model
- How is Figure 3-1 (Fowler and Levine) similar to the ITS egg model? How is it different?
- If ITS' egg model employed the practice of concurrent technology transition where "each community acts in concert with the others" (Fowler and Levine, p.10) within ITS' egg model, what would that look like? If we made the eggs in the model overlap, how would we practically achieve the overlap?
- P. 29 of Fowler and Levine say, "...those doing the planning for technology transition should anticipate changes not just to the technology (however mature) but to organizational processes as well." As projects like CU Learn move through the ITS egg model, how do we as an organization (the DATCs and ITS) change our organizational processes to adapt to technology making its way to service and support? How does the university change its organizational processes to adapt to the new technology being supported?
- P. 11 of Fowler and Levine mention transition mechanisms. Which of these mechanisms have you used? Which mechanisms should ITS use? Examples of mechanisms are newsletters, reference materials, training, boundary spanners, marketing brochures, advertising, and engineering handbooks.
- On p. 17 of Fowler and Levine, they mention "receptor functions." Who are the receptors between Architecture and Analysis and Development and Integration in the ITS egg model? Who are the receptors between Development and Integration and Service and Support in the ITS egg model?
- P. 19 also quotes (Glynn 1990) saying, "...technology transition advocates in R&D tout the need for, and utility of, moving the people with the technology." How does ITS do this in the egg model?
- P. 25 of Fowler and Levine talks about resident affiliates. Should ITS have resident affiliates? Would these be Tier 2 people who work inside ITS for a short time and then return to their area? What role would a B-role person play in a resident affiliate program? What role would a project manager play in a resident affiliate program?
Questions about DATCs' work
- P. 26 of Fowler and Levine mention maturity models. If we created a DATC maturity model, what would it look like? As the DATC program matures, what phases do you think it needs to go through? If you were brought in to review a DATC-like program at another school, what criteria would you use to evaluate it?
- Look at Figure 2-1 in Fowler and Levine. What types of interventions have you engaged in as DATCs, and what time periods have you worked with to make the intervention work?
- How long should we expect the magnitude of technological changes DATCs are engaged in to last based on Figure 2-1? Are there any technologies that have taken 20 years to mature (see footnote 6 on p. 13)?
- To what extent are DATC services really part of a "whole product?" (Moore 1991) talks about the concept of a whole product (scroll down to the pragmatist area).
- In Fowler and Levine, p. 17, they quote Morgan saying, "The internal change agent...must be aware of the culture off his or her organization as well as of typical interactions among the organization's managerial, strategic, human, technological, and structural subsystems (Morgan 1986)." To what extent do you do this as DATCs? Can you cite an example?
- Fowler and Levine, p. 19 say, "...the transfer of the technology relies on one-to-one interaction." How does this play out in the work of a DATC?
- van der Merwe talks about "...a[n] evolutionary process where one faculty member might start using WebCT and other faculty members join him/her." Do you take advantage of this phenomenon of referral as DATCs? Can you share an example with us?"
Questions about the WebCT/CU Learn project
- On p. 18 in Fowler and Levine, we see the concept of Mutual Adaptation (Leonard-Barton 1988) mentioned. How does this concept play out in the rollout of CU Learn (WebCT CE 6)?
- How should we retire a technology? How are we planning on retiring WebCT CE 4.1? Is this the right thing to do?
- van der Merwe on p.1 mentions three factors in play in the implementation of WebCT at Stellenbosch University. Are these factors also in play at CU Boulder in our implementation of CU Learn? Those factors are:
- "...an evolutionary process that relies mainly on local initiatives and personal notification of individual faculty members."
- "...top management driven.
- "...embedded in a sound teaching and learning strategy...driven by faculty members."
- Where would you place CU faculty members who are using WebCT on Rogers' adopter population curve? Are there innovators, early adopters, people in the early majority, in the late majority? What about laggards?
- Do we want faculty members in the late majority to adopt WebCT? Do we want to pay attention to laggard faculty members with respect to their stance toward WebCT?
- At Stellenbosch University they introduced "a strategy to introduce innovation in the teaching and learning on campus. Focusing on the innovation instead of the technology." p. 3. What if we did that at CU Boulder? How would it be implemented?
- Look at Table 2 in van der Merwe's essay. Do you as DATCs work within that framework? Can you cite examples of when you work with faculty to help them engage with the relative advantage of a technology, the compatibility of it, the complexity of it, the trialability of it, and the observability of it?
- Where is CU Boulder with respect to WebCT adoption on the S-curve shown in Figure 2 of van der Merwe's essay?
- van der Merwe cites Rogers (1995) as identifying three types of approaches to innovation decisions. Are any of these three in play at CU Boulder in the CU Learn project? They are:
- Optional innovation-decision
- Collective innovation-decision
- Authority innovation-decision
- What unanticipated and unintended consequences have arisen thus far in our effort to roll out CU Learn?
- Stellenbosch University created a task group for Teaching and Learning. To what extent is a group like this needed at CU? To what extent is it similar to the group described in the IT Strategic Plan section on Academic Technology?