Leadership and Adoption of Instructional Technology in a Military Medical Learning Environment: A Case Study
Tarpley, Jr, Lorenzo
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The leadership traits necessary in todayâ s military medicine learning environment involve recognition of the rapid changes in technology, and possession of the ability to ensure continuous transformation and adaptability to that change. Understanding the culture of military medicine is an essential leadership capability, coupled with effective communication and visionary skills (Chambers, 1991). Medical organizations that adopt new technologies in their training can expect better productivity and medical readiness (von Lubitz, Beier, Freer, Levine, Pletcher, Treloar, Wilkerson, & Wolf, 2001). United States medical school programs have recognized the need to introduce new technologies to allow clinicians to stay competent and reduce lethal medical mishaps (Elwyn & Lewis, 1998). The purpose of this study is to examine the adoption of instructional technology by faculty members at a military medical education program (Interservice Physician Assistant Program â IPAP). Within the case study, factors that facilitated or inhibited the adoption of instructional technology were examined. Additionally, IPAP program leadership behaviors were examined to describe its association with faculty memberâ s adoption of instructional technology. Multiple methods were used to gather data including interviews, observations, and document analysis. This research used the grounded theory qualitative method approach to develop a theory deductively from the data. Fifteen faculty members participated in this study, 12 faculty members and three program leaders. The findings suggest that significant efforts and positive attitudes toward the use of instructional technology existed among faculty members. However, the process of instructional technology integration at this military medical training facility faced impediments that affected its adoption rate by faculty members. The impediments included unreliable infrastructure, lack of training and technical support of new technologies, time commitment constraints that hindered training accessibility, compatibility with existing instructional technologies, complexity of the technology, and inadequate technical support. The data analysis was based on Rogersâ theory of diffusion and adopter categories (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability). The results of this study indicated that Rogerâ s five variables of adoption of innovations were not effectively met. Moreover, the results identified specific issues from these categories that either influenced or inhibited the adoption rate of technology innovation at this training facility; such as organization factors, personal motivation, and social factors. The following recommendations were made: (1) emphasis on conducting faculty training and professional development on instructional technologies, (2) extending the physician assistant program curricula to accommodate built-in staff development training times, (3) encourage peer-to-peer mentorship training by supporting instructors with limited instructional technology experience, (4) develop a technology personnel qualification standards (PQS) check-in process for new faculty members, (5) provide sufficient infrastructure and technical support to meet the demands of an expanding technology-based curriculum, (6) an establishment of dialogue between organizations responsible for coordinating infrastructure, technical support, and training, and (7) provide competent technicians that are trained to troubleshoot all aspects of technology support.
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