Volume 41 - Number 4 - 2000 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2000.04039

 

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with using distance education (DE) technologies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University from the perspective of administrators, faculty, and professional support staff. Rogers ' Diffusion of Innovation (1995) served as the theoretical underpinnings for the study. Qualitative research (naturalistic inquiry) was employed and the constant comparative method was used for data analysis (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Analysis revealed that respondents perceived various organizational strengths and recognized the opportunity to utilize DE technologies to  improve instruction and reach new audiences through collaboration and new courses/programs. A need was expressed to expand policies/procedures to address critical issues (i.e., incentives, support, training, quality control, careers, and communication channels). Competition, dependency on outside assistance, and misinformation on the Internet were perceived as organizational threats. Based on Rogers' attributes (1995), the rate of adoption of DE technologies could be enhanced through revised policies/procedures and the development of strategies to address critical issues.

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