New challenge facing my organization
According to statistics collected from 6 years of continuous survey, undergraduate students and above remain the dominant group of prospective students (73% of the total students continuing their student careers abroad); however, the data also indicated a potential indicator worthwhile noticing – an increasing trend can be seen it the portion of students in primary and secondary schools who intend to further study abroad, which is an increase of 4% (New Oriental Education., 2020). It is based on this growth that the marketing department in my company predict a surging market in English training business, a virgin land deserving a new strategic scheme – it begets a challenge to new curricular design and pedagogy adjustment, which will be an arduous task incorporating various stakeholders from leadership to teachers on the front line. The plan aims to provide a toolkit that serves to initiate a technology change with reference to the potential business opportunity.
Identify the problem with current course design
Since the early 1990s, the traditional curricula design of IELTS exam training has been divided into 4 distinct courses of the exam (listening, reading, speaking, writing), each is taught separately. The course design is aimed at undergraduate students aged 18-21. The characteristics of this group is that they have relatively less study pressure from their universities and therefore more time to spend on training courses. Also, many of them are at the peak of their English language level, given that they have just completed high school learning. Adding to this point is their independent learning capability, who do not need much mentoring support and can associate knowledge in sperate courses by themselves. However, the teaching mode doesn’t apply to younger learners in primary and secondary school years. The features of teenagers are different, following are some of key characteristics.
First is their lack of after school time – the majority are inundated with compulsory school work. Adding to the point is that most of primary and secondary schools are boarding schools, which means that distant learning will be more propriate model for this group. Another point is their inadequate learning capability – those in primary and secondary school only have basic English grammar and vocabulary knowledge, which is incompatible with the current academic standards of our training course design. Given this, it requires a new course design, from course content, digital platform to pedagogies.
Strategies around leadership (who will lead the initiative)
The first step we need is to clarify the project scope and organizational goal for student success – the action is based on Team A’s toolkit (Eric, Jean-Pierre, Shelley & Vanessa, 2021), by which we will define the organizational policies on all facets of the projects, whether these be charters, standards, procedures or personals, etc. (Cox, 2009, p. 68). It is with the well defined project scope the clear goal that my organization can appoint the right leadership and strategy. According to aforementioned requirement for change, the project will need the participation of almost all departments, namely, course design, teaching and IT teams as main body, with budget, training staff as supporting teams. Based on the project scope, the intended audiences of this project are the directors of education, sales and marketing departments of my organization, whom I believe will be the appropriate leaders for such an overarching project. The cooperation of the 3 key department will the core of the whole project from design to implementation; the 3 leaders will act as the key role to address the complexity of the project (Watts, 2014). Apart from the identification of intended audience and leadership, I will identify the role of myself in the project to be a member of course design team – this role is based on my experience as both a teacher and course designer for many years, not to left behind is my understanding of discrete demands of students’ and different age groups.
Change management (impacts, stakeholders),
While the leadership is appointed, it comes to the change management, which mainly focus on scrutiny of stakeholders of the change and the impacts on them. Again, addorcing to Team A’s toolkit (Eric, Jean-Pierre, Shelley & Vanessa, 2021), stakeholders are the judges who have the right to assess the success of a project (Jergeas & Williamson, 2000); it is important to identify all the stakeholders in the project upfront so as to avoid any undesirable consequences and uncertainty to the project caused by them (Karlsen, 2002). The key stakeholders of the change include students, course designers and teachers, coupled with other internal and external individuals participating in the project, namely, IT service, research company, financial and training teams. As for the impacts, the change is expected to make course align with the demand of students, while teachers in each course will be more effective with the new course design. Also, while the change will inevitably require extra costs, the success of the change will increase revenue for the organization from a long-term perspective.
Project management (resources, timelines)
As for costs of the change project mentioned above, the change project management serves to manage the three key elements of the costs – the collection of data for decision making, resources and timelines. The detailed items are as following:
||collect data of students’ needs and requests to support decision making
Mar 1 – Apr 1
|Course content design
||design of 4 courses of IELTS exam (listening, reading, speaking, writing), $500;
||8 teachers, 2 for each course,
Apr 1 – May 1
|Supporting materials design
||practice books, relevant reading and exercise materials,
|4 teachers, 1 for each course,
Apr 1 –May 1
||digital platform design, maintenance, sever, cloud storage,
||4 IT engineers
May 1 – Jun 1
|Trial and adjust
||invite students and teachers to use the demo version of the course and digital platform, and make adjustments according to their feedbacks
||8 volunteer students, 4 teachers, 2 IT engineers
Jun 1 – Jul 1
||teacher training for new courses,
digital platform usage training,
|4 teachers: 1 for each course,
1 IT engineer
Jul 1 – Aug 1
||train marketing staff of the new advantages of the new course to promote it to students
||2 teachers, 1 IT engineers
Aug 1 – Sep 1
To deal with the cost problem, the team anticipated the possible cost rates, in terms of the participants or tools that might involve in the task, so as to figure out the budget. This act was the same as described in by Watt (2012). Among all the items listed in the table, of particular importance is the design and combination of 4 distinctive courses. As for the course design, the traditional 4 courses of the exam (listening, reading, speaking, writing) are taught separately, students were inundated with legions of learning materials within a short period of time (usually 2 month). The problem is that while a large proportion of materials in each course were duplicated in terms of their topics and relevant vocabularies (e.g. environmental preservation, the Internet, or crimes), students didn’t take full advantage of these materials to use them flexibly in different courses – this conundrum is of particularly importance to younger age students of primary and secondary school who cannot afford the time in the learning. To help them extend the learning outcome of one course to the other fields, it is imperative to initiate innovative course design – to connect relevant contents in different course to allow students to better remember vocabularies and main ideas. The second important part is the digitalization of all materials in a digital platform for distant learning, which caters to the needs of primary and secondary students who live in boarding schools.
Once the two key parts have been accomplished, the next stage of the project will be the trial and adjustment of the demo version of new course. When the final version is done, the organization will start training for all teachers to use the new course and digital platform. Not to left behind is the marketing of the new product, which also requires a training session for marketing and sales employees of the features of the new course.
Above all, the key of project outcomes is to ensure the change meets students’ needs, making sure that people using the final product are satisfied with that they get (Watt, 2012). With this in mind, data collection will be a key indicator to reflect whether the change of course is successful or not. The data will be collected in different dimensions, the first being on revenue for the new courses – it also meets the demands of manager of the organization, who is the primary stakeholder of the project. Another outcome should be the students’ ratings of the courses collected from quantitative data collected from surveys. Beside students’ feedback, another important indicator should be their scores of IELTS exams, which will be the key demonstration of the success of new course content. Likewise, as discussed in Team A’s toolkit (Eric, Jean-Pierre, Shelley & Vanessa, 2021) – quantitative data gathered through surveys, tests and other methods can help identify the thoughts of other stakeholders, and the combination of this data from various stakeholders (e.g., faculty, students) through will provide a basis to improve the users’ satisfaction.
To predict a potential business trend and therefore initiate a change to a traditional educational model is momentous decision for an organization; however, one-size-fits all methods will result in failure in change (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). This project represents an enterprising attempt to design a new course set that caters to a brand new audience is an arduous project – it requires the combination of all elements of the project, from data collection for decision making, leadership, project management to the final evaluation of outcomes.
Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills for Instructional Designers: A practical guide. iUniverse.
Eric, Y., Jean-Pierre, J., Shelley, D., & Vanessa, T. (2021) Accessibility Awareness Toolkit for Faculty. https://spark.adobe.com/page/sTscX5oQPUUxj/
Jergeas, G. F., & Williamson, E. (2000). Stakeholder Management on Construction Projects. LK – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/5745703828. AACE International Transactions TA – TT –.
Karlsen, J. T. (2002). Project stakeholder management. EMJ – Engineering Management Journal, 14(4). https://doi.org/10.1080/10429247.2002.11415180
Kotter, J. P., & Schlesinger, L. A. (2008). Choosing Strategies for Change. Harvard Business Review, 86(7–8).
New Oriental Education. (2020). Reports on Chinese Overseas Study. https://cdn.jiemodui.com/pdf/2020中国留学白皮书-英文版.pdf
Watt, A. (2012). 5. Stakeholder Management | Project Management. In Project Management .
Watt, A. (2014). Project management. BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/projectmanagement/