Learning technologies are emerging rapidly in higher education, and institutions are looking to concurrently evolve to maintain relevance and to provide the best digital learning environments. Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) provided a research synthesis for the history of change management and deduced that less than thirty percent of organizational change initiatives are successful. Being a part of past organizational change initiatives within healthcare and educational contexts, I have witnessed both the successful and unsuccessful processes and products of change management, and I strongly believe that leadership plays an integral role. There is ample evidence to support that innovative leaders require characteristic skills in order to be successful in driving change initiatives (Sheninger, 2019; Kouzes and Posner, 2012; Kanter, 2000). Common attributes pin-pointed in these studies included the ability of leaders to be creative, forward-thinking, and to embrace change.
Managing change for learning in digital environments presents unique challenges. I work closely with educators from various programs, from certificate to degree, with varying levels of digital literacies and pedagogical understandings, and support them in integrating educational technologies into their practice. Given the diverse nature of the educators I support, implementing learning technologies requires an individualized approach. Leaders driving the change for learning in digital environments must recognize this diversity and the importance of the inclusion of educators in the strategic planning process. Khan and Smuts (2005) studied the barriers of technology–enhanced learning among more than a dozen European educational institutions and discovered that one of the key solutions to abolishing these barriers included support for the integration of technology to support pedagogy. Educators need opportunities for professional development in both pedagogical approaches and educational technologies.
Witnessing change from somewhere in the middle, amongst the educators, the students, and the leadership, I believe that in order to truly innovate our culture and to drive the change, those expected to use the innovations need to be included in the process. Biech (2007) argued that one of the keys to success in promoting change is involving stakeholders at all levels that are impacted by the change and offered several frameworks to support the success of organizational change, including Appreciative Inquiry (AI). I believe that an AI approach could promote progress in implementing educational technologies within my context, as it includes the voices of all stakeholders. According to Biech (2007), AI identifies the current positives, dreams about what could be, and implements what will be, all the while, from a vantage point of appreciation. This approach speaks to me as I prefer to approach the challenges of change through a positive lens. AI is a framework that allows stakeholders to dream; therefore, forward–thinking, creative leaders who embrace educational technologies would be well suited to leading this approach. More importantly, AI allows for an inclusive process in which all participants collaborate to drive the organizational transformation, which can support successful outcomes in change initiatives.
What approach do you think your organization should take to manage change for 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. doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215
Biech, E. (2007). Thriving through change: A leader’s practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
Khan, H., & Smuts, R. (2005). Comparison of change management guidelines to address technology adoption barriers: A case study of higher educational institutions. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology, 97(7), 1999-2020.
Sheninger, E. (2019, December). Pillars of Digital Leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education. Retrieved from http://leadered.com/pillars-of-digital-leadership/