The diffusion of educational television at the United States Military Academy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Donald P. Ely


educational television, military academy

Subject Categories

Instructional Media Design


The purpose of this study was to determine how educational television was adopted, implemented and institutionalized at the United States Military Academy and to compare that process with major models of diffusion and conditions believed to facilitate change.

Using historical research methodology, information was gathered from official documents, periodicals, alumni files and personal collections of those involved in the process. Correspondence was received from 24 of 31 superintendents, department heads and signal officers who could be located. Also, eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with persons who were active at the Academy during the study period.

The history traced the first inquiries into the medium, including commercial interest in televising Army football. It followed a general rise in interest with audiovisual media and experimentation with television in particular. The development of infrastructure and consolidation of educational technology under the Dean and later the Chief of Staff was also pursued. The history concludes when neither further changes in technology nor in organization had much effect on the use or funding of television.

Rogers' (1983) model predicted early events with great accuracy. As the process advanced, problems in the model become more apparent. Brown's (1981) use of market approaches and Burkman's (1987) concept of post-adoption support fill-in gaps in the Rogers model.

The presence and importance of various conditions were analyzed against the backdrop of the historical timeline. Virtually all of Ely's (1976, 1990) conditions of change were active although their presence did fluctuate over the course of the study. "Knowledge and skills" and "leadership" seemed vital throughout the effort. Other key conditions appeared to include "resources" and "time." Interactions between the conditions made it difficult to classify examples of specific conditions with great precision. Still, it appeared that the conditions occurred most consistently during the implementation phase of the effort.

Finally, a synthesized model of organizational diffusion is presented. It describes a four-phase process, each phase consisting of one or more stages. The phases are initiation, adoption, implementation and institutionalization. The model also addresses the influence of the conditions for change and external considerations regarding the change process.


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