So let's apply Rogers' concepts to the behemoth technology of our class, GIS. Since 1994, when the National Council for Geography Education published their Geography for Life standards, teacher educators (such as myself) have been telling folks that they need to be using GIS. Will this innovation be adopted?
As you can no doubt agree, GIS is...complex. Is it trialable? Sort of...if you can get My World to install on your laptop, it is trialable! Does it provide relative advantage? Depending on your task, yes--Google Earth won't let you analyze, for example. But what if you just want to look at really cool satellite imagery? Then Google Earth (et al.) are far superior. Is GIS observable? Sure, I suppose: I know it when I see it. However, I'm not sure that someone who doesn't know what it is would recognize it as being anything different / better than anything else. Is GIS compatible with existing patterns, practices, materials, and beliefs? Well, for research, yes -- GIS is a fantastic tool for displaying and analyzing the data that researchers collect. How about for teaching? No, not as much: teachers often want to display information, but they don't always want to manipulate and analyze it, or ask students to manipulate and analyze it. Basically, GIS is compatible for teachers who want students to do hands-on inquiry using heavy-duty technologies. For all other teachers, though, it isn't super-compatible.
So: Is GIS is doomed to go the way of the Microsoft Zune? We know we're working with a dead technology in the form of My World; are we working with a dead end in instructional technology as well?
I will say no, but I will entertain counter-arguments. The big factor, in my mind, is movement into online environments. As GIS-like tools such as ArcGIS go online and become more powerful, they also become more trialable and less complex. Running on web browsers and mobile devices make them more compatible with trends in consumers' digital devices. Because ArcGIS provides a variety of basemaps, including very nice satellite imagery, it provides more relative advantage (or less relative disadvantage) than traditional GIS when compared to the satellite imagery in Google Earth. As ArcGIS users create and share their work with others, the observability of web-based GIS increases.
So: Assuming things like ArcGIS don't go away and instead get better over time, the conditions are (finally!) right for GIS (and other geospatial tools) to take off. Prior generations of GIS were waaaay too complex or not trialable enough. Our work with My World (which is the easiest of that lot) should show you that. Thanks to the newer tools, you are just now seeing what I'm hoping is the front end of the adoption curve. If you end up using GIS in your teaching, consider yourself an early adopter!