In my first blog entry (Instructional Design: What is it?), I defined instructional design as a “systematic and iterative results-focused process” that enables us to create learning paths that lead to desired learning outcomes. This sounds simple, right? It can be, but often it tends to be much more complex than one presumes at the beginning of the process. As we delve into the selection and use of technology tools to support teaching and learning, the process of design becomes messier and has been described as “a series of compromises” (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). Why compromises? Because as we weigh pros and cons of various technology tools, we realize that, most of the time, there is no perfect solution. In fact, we recognize that the operating environment, our context, is a key driver of decisions around technology tool adoption. With this in mind, let’s consider the role of technology acceptance as a possible decision support model when considering tools in relation to the people who will use them.
We begin by taking a look at the original Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), below. This model shows that there are external factors that influence one’s perception in relation to ease of use and usefulness of a tool. Perceived ease of use refers to the degree of ease associated with using a tool while perceived usefulness refers to the degree to which one believes that the tool will help him/her succeed in accomplishing the given task. Perceived ease of use, according to TAM, is also a direct influencing factor on one’s perception of usefulness. Both ease of use and usefulness impact one’s attitude (positive or negative feelings) toward using the tool which, in turn, influences one’s intention to use it. This behavioral intention is defined as the degree to which one has made conscious plans to use or not to use the tool. In addition, perception of usefulness also directly contributes to one’s intention to use a tool. Actual use of the tool is the last construct in the model and is directly influenced by intention.
(Davis, F. D.; Bagozzi, R. P.; Warshaw, P. R. (1989), "User acceptance of computer technology: A comparison of two theoretical models", Management Science 35: 982–1003)
Since 1989, the technology acceptance model has been expanded upon; much of the research has been focusing on the identification of external factors and how these influence perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness.
As you review the list of external factors I included below, keep in mind that these factors are meant to help you understand what influences an individual's adoption/use of a tool. Think of them as a list of characteristics that will help you at the analysis phase of your work, that is before you make a decision in relation to which tool to implement. Taking into consideration these factors will enable you to make more informed decisions as you examine various tools to use within your e-learning environments.
The following are key external factors that influence technology acceptance (Venkatesh & Bala, 2008):
- External factors influencing perceived usefulness relevant for making instructional design decisions:
- subjective norm - one’s perception of what the important people in one’s context think he/she should or should not do.
- voluntariness - perception in relation to whether one believes that adopting the tool is non-mandatory.
- image - degree to which the use of the tool increases one’s status within their social environment
- job relevance - degree to which the tool is relevant to one’s job
- output quality - degree to which one believes that the tool will support their tasks well
- demonstrability - tangibility of results
- External factors influencing perceived ease of use relevant for making instructional design decisions:
- computer self-efficacy - degree to which one believes he/she has the ability to perform the task using the computer
- computer anxiety - degree of one’s fear when using computers
- facilitating conditions - degree to which one believes that there is organizational support for the tool in question
Want to explore more? Take a look at the model below.
Venkatesh, V., and Bala, H. “Technology Acceptance Model 3 and a Research Agenda on Interventions,” Decision Sciences, 39, 2008, 273-315.