Change: Leadership in Digital Environments – A Roadmap to Success


Al-Haddad & Kotnour and Biech noted some common elements within leadership with change: identify problem, create resource availability, invitation, train, support and review. This conception of how to deal with change in leadership can be adapted for a change within digital learning environments. Sheninger notes the 7 Pillars to Success for implementing change within digital learning environments, and even these notions show common elements to the above mentioned theories.

We start the roadmap with the concept of identifying a need for change. “Proper planning and analysis help[s] identify the gap between where the organization is now and where it wants to be” (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 243). This process is important and leads to creating the vision for change.

The vision for change requires a buy in from all employees in the organization. In order to create change and be effective leaders, everyone needs to see the same vision and creation of opportunity that can be implemented by change. The downside of vision, is the sense of loss. “People go through phases as they adjust to change and people perceive change as a loss – if only as the loss of what was” (Biech, 2007).

Communicating within the digital age is looked at as a hurdle. “Important information can be communicated through various free social media tools and simple implementation strategies in order to meet stakeholders in the digital age” (Sheninger, 2014). Sheninger’s theory on communication is applicable to education or learning environments as well. There are many social media tools, or learning platform tools, that allow students and instructors to communicate effectively ensuring that students and professor remain on the same learning/course path.

The evaluation of performance provides a roadmap for students to see what and how they are going to achieve their grade or result in the course. This metric provides a clear picture of what is required for students to achieve success, but also providing an opportunity for growth. Evaluation provides a sense of effectiveness, efficiency, quality, and productivity (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 241). By setting objectives and metrics on how to measure those objectives, students can see where they went wrong and instructors can see where more communication may be needed, where a problem may exist, and/or how they can improve to ensure students are receiving the information they needed for success. “Evaluating the impact of the change is an important step of closure, but deciding what to do with what you learn is also important” (Biech, 2007).

Support is an element that is often forgotten or rendered unnecessary. Students require support to ensure comprehension, clarification, or verification of their thought. Providing students the opportunity to reach out for support and assistance through different digital mediums can allow students to feel more comfortable and heard. Biech speaks to reflecting and supporting the learning with reflection (Biech, 2007). Upon reflection, students can review to see where they feel their needs are not being met, providing upwards feedback. Top down feedback is provided through performance evaluation, through criticism and critique. Instructors can incorporate self-reflection, looking at how they can improve their leadership. Along with reflection, is support during the process of change. “Consistently seek out ways to improve existing programs, resources, and professional development through technology” (Sheninger, 2014). Through support, instructors can alter the course, creating a stronger learning environment along the roadmap of learning.


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful changeJournal of Organizational Change Management28(2), 234-262.

Biech, E. (2007). Models for Change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.  [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]

Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education.




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