Archive for February 26, 2012

‘Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards’ or ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’?

In my previous post, I used the terms innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. These are psychographic profiles that have been used for over five decades; these profiles were originally developed to characterize the purchase patterns of hybrid seed corn. These profiles are routinely used in information technology as part of the technology adoption lifecycle.

More recently, the terms ‘digital immigrant’ and ‘digital native’ have been used to describe different sets of computer users. Marc Prensky discusses these at length in his 2001 On the Horizon article titled “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”.

Do these two sets of terms really describe the same phenomenon? Are digital natives the innovators and early adopters and are digital immigrants the early majority, late majority, and laggards? Is there some other difference being described? I prefer a behavioral distinction rather than a distinction based on birth year.

February 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, or Laggards?

Last week’s open discussion at our NMFS was on “The Reluctant Technologist” [February 20, 2012]. Each of us offered an example of someone who was a user of technology, but did so reluctantly.

In my position was director of an M.S. program in management information systems, our students  are not reluctant technologists, but rather those who are innovators, early adopters, or in the early majority.

However, I have had students in our MBA course titled “Information Technology Management” who are reluctant technologists. They come from professions as different as healthcare and the auto industry. These are professionals who understand the potential of information technology, but who do not know how to navigate all the decisions involved in IT adoption. The physician understands the need for electronic health records and wants to know how to make a good decision. The owner of a successful auto dealership understands the need for integrated systems and wants to know how to make a god decision.

Perhaps these students are not so different from our academic colleagues who are reluctant users of technology. We may all understand the potential of information technology. Some of us may be eager to identify new technologies [innovators], participate in pilot tests [early adopters], or adopt them early [early majority]. Others of us may wait to see what colleagues’ experiences may be [late majority] or may adopt a technology only after it is well established [laggards].

We identified several important questions:

  • Can we help colleagues adopt technologies earlier by providing training and support that is tailored to his/her discipline?
  • Is the difference in IT adoption based on age?
  • How do we know that a particular technology will have a positive impact on student learning?

February 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment


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