Assignment 1 – External Scan
Submitted in partial fulfillment of
the requirements for
Leading Change in Digital Learning
Master of Arts in Learning and Technology Program
School of Education and Technology
Royal Roads University
Michelle Harrison, Facilitator
Due: February 23, 2020
We’ve all heard the popular saying by Heraclitus, “Change is the only constant in life.” Everything around us is forever changing, so why wouldn’t this be the case in organizations and more specifically in digital learning environments? And if things are constantly changing, then shouldn’t everyone be accustomed to it by now? Nevertheless, companies are broadcasting a high percentage of failures when it comes to implementing change (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). Here I will highlight my personal thoughts about how successful change can be organized, how my approach aligns with a specific model, method or theory, what role leadership plays in change, and how change is addressed by leaders in digital learning environments (based on personal communications with my colleagues). My current thinking about successful change is as follows.
In my opinion there is no change method or theory that works best in every single situation. There are many factors at play. For instance, is it a small or big change? Does the change affect the employees positively or negatively? Is the change properly planned out and lead well with stakeholder buy-in? What is the level of employee readiness for change? It has been proven that when employees actually want the change to take place (as opposed to carrying out the change because they must or feel that they are obligated to), the success rate is higher (Weiner, 2009). I think it is up to each leader to know their employees well enough to predict how they may react to a change and plan accordingly. They may need to choose a different leadership style and be ready to solve any issues that may come up throughout the change process. Next, I will choose a change model, method or theory that aligns with my thinking and the role leadership plays in change.
Over the last two weeks, I have learned about several change models, methods and theories through our course readings. Lewin’s method aligns best with my ideas. Lewin believed that leaders should unfreeze the present-day situation, then based on a leadership style of their choosing, execute the change, solve any problems that surface through open communication and involvement, then refreeze the new condition (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). Lewin’s method takes the same aforementioned steps into account, and he also includes the steps of unfreezing, then freezing again once the change is implemented. As I stated in my blog post last week, “I think it’s pretty clear that all of these writers agree that leadership plays a monumental role in managing change, and that without proper guidance and planning on management’s part, the change is likely to fail” (Nassiripour, 2020, para. 2). What I’m saying here is that I believe that leadership has everything to do with the success of a change and thus this role in significant. Lastly, I will discuss leadership in digital learning environments.
I recently reached out to two of my colleagues to discuss change management in digital learning. One is my close friend Natalie Smith who is a grade 6/7 teacher in Canada and the other is my current boss, Neil Draycott who is the Managing Director at Joy Language School in China. Both have recently undergone successful change management in digital environments. Natalie implemented the use of iPads into all aspects of student learning in her school and Neil rolled out a professional development online platform to the company’s 700 Chinese employees (it has not been offered to the foreign employees as it is in Chinese). Both of them highlighted the same steps taken throughout the change process; analyzing the current state of their students, planning the transition, communicating it and getting buy-in from their stakeholders, then fortifying the change. These steps align perfectly with the Judson method explained in detail by Al-Haddad & Kotnour (2015). Natalie’s biggest challenge was getting the teachers to feel comfortable and confident enough with the technology to be able to carry out the changes without feeling intimidated as their students were more tech-savvy than them (personal communication, February 16, 2020), while Neil’s largest hurdle was convincing employees (with the help of departmental managers) that with proper time management skills, they could make the time for this new initiative (personal communication, February 20, 2020).
Through the course readings, through my own experiences and through my personal communications with colleagues, it has become quite apparent that in order to implement change, many elements must be taken into account, but planning and getting buy-in from stakeholders are the two that cannot be overlooked in order to be successful.
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. Retrieved from
Nassiripour, S. (2020, February 14). Unit 2, Activity 1 – Managing Change [Blog post].
Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation
Science, 4(67). Retrieved from