When implementing changes within digital learning environments, people and their human capital play a significant role in either its success or failure. The Collaborating for Change process was developed by drawing inspiration through colleague interviews, examining the Six Step, and the Evaluation, Re-evaluation, and Action (ERA) method. Each sequential stage of the process has been designed to address change by encouraging leaders to actively build rapport and trust, to garner a greater sense of ownership and buy-in from its people. In turn, leaders can leverage the knowledge, expertise, and opinions captured, and incorporate them accordingly into their change management process. The Collaborating for Change stages are:
Share – Leaders communicate information they feel are important to people and/or stakeholders that will be affected by the change.
Support – Leaders create opportunities for people and/or stakeholders to provide suggestions and feedback, as well as express any concerns, issues, and potential stresses that may stem from the proposed changes.
Reflect – Leaders analyze and examine information gathered through the support phase.
Evaluate – Leaders assess and determine if feedback and information provided should be incorporated.
Implement – Leaders incorporate feedback and lessons learned accordingly.
Change in Digital Learning Environments
The organization I work for, Municipal Finance Officers’ Association (MFOA), plans to transition from live streaming its in class workshops, to ones that are online in a synchronous format. Expanding into new territory, developing an online workshop requires extensive consultation with staff and management to ensure that the process, design, and delivery align with the strategic goals of the organization. People deal with and react to changes in different ways. Researchers, such as Biech (2007), compare the experience of adjusting to change to the various phases one goes through after experiencing a loss. MFOA is a small organization, but change that is not managed properly can lead to repercussions similar to dealing with a loss.
Biech (2007) further explains that if the change taking place is too drastic and different from the existing organizational culture, employees can lose faith in their leadership, refuse to put in effort, and become resistant to change. Every effort needs to be made to communicate changes that are happening and how it will affect staff and key players. Demonstrating a level of empathy is key. By allowing individuals to have a platform to be heard, the focus shifts from the change being seen as problematic, to it becoming a solution (Saunders, personal communication, February 18, 2020).
The ability for MFOA to successfully launch a new online workshop requires more than changing its design and development approaches. It requires the instructional designer to develop a collaborative approach to manage the change and decision making processes between management, staff, and subject matter experts. In Al-Haddad and Kotnour’s (2015) analysis of change management literature, they highlight the Six Step approach to “build commitment for change through actively involving people identifying the problems”, and the ERA method that focuses on being customer-oriented. The Collaborating for Change process is influenced by how the Six Step approach involves people in the decision making process, while the ERA’s focus on the needs of customers and reanalyzing the organizational “situation, values, and systems” (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015). These theoretical elements provide the core framework of the Collaborating for Change process.
Through the literature and the interviews, it is apparent in how important it is to work with people who will be impacted by change. The instructional designer overseeing the change should consider adopting qualities of an adaptive leader. The flexibility will allow them to motivate the team by empathizing with their struggles and understanding their needs (Khan, 2017). While a robust and structured process is necessary, it must also be flexible enough to build in a collaborative element to implementing change (McMillan, personal communication, February 18, 2020). In the end, utilizing the Collaborating for Change approach gives people a voice and to feel that they are heard, and for its leaders, the opportunity to actively listen to provide an inclusive space for change to take place in digital learning environments.
Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262.
Biech, E. (2007). Models for Change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]
Huggins, K. (2017). Developing Leadership Capacity in Others: An Examination of High School Principals Personal Capacities for Fostering Leadership. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.22230/ijepl.2017v12n1a670
McMillan, B. (2020, February 18). Personal interview.
Saunders, G. (2020, February 18). Personal interview.