Innovation in Language Education
Chapter Report: Diffusion of Innovations By Everett M. Rogers
Reported by Zainurrahman
Diffusion and Innovations book is a general diffusion discussion, not specified to language education. This book is containing of general understanding about diffusion of innovations, therefore, the reader must accommodating with his field, in this case Language Education.
This report will be opened with understanding of diffusion of innovations, and then report will be continued with the elements of diffusion of innovations. Every point in this report is accommodated with language education activity.
II. Discussion of Report
1. What is Diffusion?
Rogers defined diffusion as communication process that containing innovations ideas through certain controls or channels (it’s meant that a message from one individual to another; Mass-media channels are more effective in creating knowledge of innovation) over time among people in a social system (Rogers, 1971:5). Diffusion is idea spreading process, spreading of information through several ways to each other.
According to Oxford, diffuse is (cause something to) spread widely in all directions. Rogers state that diffusion is a communication process, Oxford state that diffuse is spreading something widely in all directions, thus, we can get a red line that diffusion is the spreading of new idea (communicating a new idea through channels over time among people in a social system).
Communication is a process in which participants create and share information with one another in order to reach mutual understanding (Rogers, 1971:5). Communication is the most important thing in diffusing a new idea, an innovation. In other hand, Communication is comprehended as an activity of expressing idea and feeling or of giving people information (Oxford, 2005), so diffusion is a special type of communication in which the information is concerned with a new idea.
Information is the content of communication that is exchanged in communication process by communicating people. In the communicated information there are ideas, a picture in people mind about something. If the idea in communication (for example about how to teach present tense easily) is newer than before, so that the idea can be named an innovation idea, and the process to communicate the idea can be called diffusion.
Further, Rogers expresses that information is something which reduces uncertainty. Actually, a new idea or an innovation idea reduces uncertainty of the latest idea. For example, over years people believe that English was very difficult to be studied, so that they were lazy to study English. In the latest year (this time) people believe that English is an interesting studies and easy to be studied, if the teacher is the expert. English teachers in schools or English institutes tend to use conventional teaching model, that out of date, although they have known communicative teaching model. So that the students feel bored and English becomes something not interesting (Pardiyono, 2006:iii).
Communicative teaching model is the newer method (or idea) than convention teaching model. The people uncertainty in studying English is cured. Therefore communicative teaching method is an innovation idea, because it is information that reduces people uncertainty.
Diffusion (of innovation) is a kind of social change. We back to the example above. Before, people though that English was a bored subject and not interesting. The word of ‘people’ refers to a social environment, a society view about English. Their prejudice about English was a kind of uncertainty toward their successfulness in studying the language with conventional teaching model, by the act of disseminating information to the learners in the class room (Chauhan 1979:3). Information about communicative teaching that offering the more interest model in studying English, that is diffused by mass-media, book, oration or seminar, will reduce people uncertainty. Further, this diffused information will change people (society) view about English, and of course this is a social change.
Something that Rogers wants to propose in this chapter is, diffusion of innovation must bring a social change. From the old to the newer, from the bad to the better, from the stupid to the clever, from the hard to the easier, from the tradition to the modern, from the convention to the communicative.
A changing in a social system can be happened through a natural event or other social movement. In Aceh, before Tsunami, people never think that earthquake can cause Tsunami, but now, after tsunami they always are careful.
In Orde Lama Era, education was not functioned to increase the people life level. Education was not directed to quality increasing, but it was directed to reach political target (Tilaar, 2004:2,3). In Orde Baru Era, education accountability was determined by power, not by consumer of the education. Over time, education was getting far thrown, from culture and this is a result of bureaucracy. Educated persons were directed to political target, to continue orde lama’s mission, there was not quality, but quantity of powerful person (Tilaar, 2004:5). Finally, this country was (is being) snared in endless two fires, crisis. People realize that this must be ended, so that people move in reformation movements to drop Orde Baru. Now, education get a competent position in people life, education is directed to increase people brain quality, to increase people life level and to against stupidity. This is example of social change, through other social movement.
2. Four Main Elements in Diffusion of Innovation
Rogers mentions four main elements in diffusion of innovation by the definition of diffusion itself. Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Thus, the elements are innovation, communication channels, time and social system (Rogers, 1971:10).
Innovation is an idea that perceived as new. Further, Rogers states that “If the idea seems new to the individual, it is an innovation” (Rogers, 1971:11).
People often use “innovation” and “technology” as synonym. Technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces uncertainty… (Rogers, 1971:12). It is needed to remember that technology has two aspects; they are hardware aspect and software aspect. The both hardware and software is inseparable couple. For the example, computer hardware, consist of semiconductors, transistors, metals, etc. the software, consist of command, code and other information of hardware and how to use it. Computer without operating system such as Windows, Linux or Macintosh is useless; on the contrary, the program of operating system without the hardware is useless too.
Formerly, chalk and stick were always used as the main tool in teaching. But now, there is OHP, In-Focus, and notebook for presentation. This is example of innovation in education tool.
In language education, formerly, teacher manually uses his voice to teach listening, but now, there are tape, IPOD, Mp3 Player, headset and toolset in language laboratory, and this is also innovation.
In language education method, formerly, teacher has to have a good knowledge about language, so that he can teach. But now, teacher ability and knowledge must be developed over time, their method must be changed from conventional to communicative teaching model, not use stick anymore, not use chalk anymore, not screaming in front of class anymore, and this is innovation.
Communication Channels is the means by which messages get from one individual to another. In other word, communication channels answer the question “how to diffuse or to spread the innovation idea”.
Mass-media such as television, news paper, and radio, magazine is one of the effective communication channels. But Rogers prefers to say that interpersonal channels are more effective in persuading an individual to adopt a new idea, such as oration, seminar, book, etc.
Time is an important element in the diffusion process. Time is the media to measure the diffusion of innovation process, and it is obviously involved in the innovation decision process (Rogers, 1971:20), innovation decision process is an activity of information-seeking and information-process by an individual to decrease his or her uncertainty about the innovation.
Shortly, Rogers divided the process in five steps:
Knowledge occurs when an individual is exposed to the innovation’s existence and gains some understanding of how it functions.
Persuasion occurs when an individual forms a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation.
Decision occurs when an individual engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation.
Implementation occurs when an individual puts an innovation into use.
Confirmation occurs when an individual seeks reinforcement of an innovation decision that has already been made, but he or she may reverse this previous decision if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation.
The importance of time in the innovation decision process is determining the length of required to pass through the process, until reaching the target or the objective.
In language education, we can interpret as follows:
Knowledge: a teacher reads a book of innovation in language education. It is about how to teach tenses practically, through the book the teacher reach a new knowledge.
Persuasion: then, the teacher set his mind and method according to what the book said. He changes his old method, and sets a new interesting method.
Decision: the teacher determines and decides to use or to apply the newer method in the class.
Confirmation: the teacher seeks another theories to reinforcement his decision or to compare or to combine with his previous decision or the teacher can improve it.
A social system
Rogers defined a social system as a set of interrelated units that are engaged in joint problem solving to accomplish a common goal (Rogers, 1971:24).
According to Oxford (2005) system is defined as group of parts that are connected or work together. Every element in the system work accorded to their function. The elements form a structure that is defined by Rogers as patterned arrangements of units in a system. The unit, or elements might be individuals, informal groups, organization or subsystem, but the most important thing is, they have their role.
A process of diffusion of innovation can be accomplished easily if individuals in a system talk with others who are similar to themselves (their community). For example; the first adopter of a newer idea is the head master of a school. He tends to diffuse the new idea (about how to evaluate students objectively). His intention will be accomplished more easily than if the first adopter is a school-keeper. Thus, the knowledge of the social structure in which potential adopter is located is very important. The structure or the social system is an influencing aspect in the process of diffusion of innovation. The head master in the example above is named opinion leaders and the common teacher under him who accomplishes his diffused idea is named change agent. In this, opinion leaders are defined as the degree to which an individual is able to influence other individual’s attitudes… (Rogers, 1971:25).
It can be concluded that diffusion of innovation passes through a long journey to be accomplished.
A diffused innovation aims to decrease uncertainty and improve a situation to be better than before, or in contrary, the diffusion might change a situation to a worst condition. Therefore, an innovation can be accepted or rejected.
The main purpose of the diffusion of innovation is social change.
Chauhan, S.S. 1979. Innovations in Teaching-Learning Process. Vikas Publishing House PVT LTD. India
Oxford. 2005. Learner’s Pocket Dictionary. Oxford University Press
Pardiyono, 2006. Bahasa Inggris. Communicative Teaching: 12 Tenses Grammar Materials. Penerbit Andi. Yogyakarta
Rogers, M. Everett. 1971. Diffusion of Innovations. The Three Press. New York
Tilaar, H.A.R. 2004. Paradigma Baru Pendidikan Nasional. Penerbit Rhineka Cipta. Jakarta