BOULWARE, ZELLA MOORE; EDD

                        UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, 1994
                        EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY (0710); MASS COMMUNICATIONS (0708)

                         The purpose of this descriptive survey was to identify the roles of various factors in the adoption and
                         implementation of the educational telecommunications network, Florida Information Resource Network
                         (FIRN). The diffusion of innovation theory was used as a theoretical framework for the study. The major
                         purpose of the study was to determine if the early adopter existed in the population of FIRN users. Other
                         purposes of the study were to identify variables which affected the adoption and implementation of FIRN;
                         the patterns of communication among Florida educators; and the uses of FIRN. A descriptive survey was
                         conducted in the Spring semester of 1994. Subjects were teachers, media specialists, guidance
                         counselors and program specialists in the school setting. A random sample of 300 users was chosen
                         from a group of 1,547 users who had signed on the system between November 1991 and June 1993.
                         The questionnaire covered demographic information, characteristics of early adopters, variables which
                         affected adoption and implemention of FIRN, communication patterns and uses of FIRN. Analysis of
                         responses (n = 192) revealed that the early adopter, as identified by characteristics found in the review of
                         literature, does exist in the population of FIRN users. Positive factors affecting the adoption and
                         implementation of FIRN included the relative advantage of the system, its consistency with educators'
                         needs and the observable results of using the system. Negative factors included the complexity of
                         experimenting with, understanding and using the system. Patterns of communication indicated that a
                         network of near peers existed in the school setting; other patterns were not as easily discerned since
                         most early adopters rely on themselves and their outside sources for information. FIRN services
                         identified as most valuable to educators included electronic mail, the Internet, and group conferencing.
                         Since early adopters can be identified in the population of FIRN users by using characteristics identified
                         in the literature, recommendations were made for identifying early adopters who assist with diffusing an
                         innovation. Further recommendations were made for using the data of the study for modifying and
                         planning for future developments of the network.

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