Final reflections on learning throughout this course

At the end of the course, I would say it looks to me like a long journey for the past 8 weeks, which is a stairway a repository of knowledge about leadership in the digital learning environment, not limited to the academic theories, but also the empirical knowledge from the assignments in each stage. In reflecting my initial perspective in the beginning of the course, I do have changed my perspective to what leadership definitely means in a complex system. I used to believe that the key character to an excellent leader should be more in two aspects, the first being his or her expertise in professional fields where a project take place, the other being managerial skills focusing exclusively on the progression of the project. Now my vision has broaden to a systemic understanding of different models of leadership and change management, such as the qualities of reflective and adaptive leadership and their relevance to the change management of an organization in the digitalized age. It is from the learning that makes me realize other necessary features of a successful leadership, e.g. self-awareness, raising the self-esteem and confidence levels of followers aim to streamline the performance of the organization.

Based on above understanding, I am glad to reset my current role to help lead a change within my organization. Among all possible contributions, of particular impartance is I can help the leader to deal with changes in a more holistic way, placing equal emphasis on both intrinsic factors within the organization and extrinsic variables in the external environment, to align the goals of an educational institution with the whitewater digital environment that involves various determinants that may impacts leaders (e.g. cultural, societal factors) (Glover et al., 2002).

Also, for the question as to what can my envision do in the future, I would expect my envision will offer me an alternative view to reflect on problems in current work and predict potential challenge to my organization, which is not limited to the single dimension of educational environment, but from a macro milieu that incorporate facets and the underlying interactions within a complex system, whether these be culture, political, and other socioeconomic factors – all of which will impact the consideration of stakeholders and the evaluation of outcomes in a project..

References

Glover, J., Rainwater, K., Jones, G., & Friedman, H. (2002). Adaptive leadership (part two): Four principles for being adaptive LK  – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/5399994983. Organization Development Journal TA  – TT  –, 20(4), 18–38.

Individual assessment plan – Implications for Change

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:

Item Work Staff Timeline Cost
Research collect data of students’ needs and requests to support decision making external contractor 20 hrs

Mar 1 – Apr 1

$20,000
Course content design design of 4 courses of IELTS exam (listening, reading, speaking, writing), $500; 8 teachers, 2 for each course, 160 hrs

Apr 1 – May 1

$90,000
Supporting materials design practice books, relevant reading and exercise materials,

 

4 teachers, 1 for each course, 80 hrs

Apr 1 –May 1

$ 45,000
IT support digital platform design, maintenance, sever, cloud storage, 4 IT engineers 80 hrs

May 1 – Jun 1

$ 45,000
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 40 hrs

Jun 1 – Jul 1

$ 20,000
Teacher training teacher training for new courses,

digital platform usage training,

4 teachers: 1 for each course,

1 IT engineer

80 hrs

Jul 1 – Aug 1

$ 50,000
Marketing training train marketing staff of the new advantages of the new course to promote it to students 2 teachers, 1 IT engineers 10 hrs

Aug 1 – Sep 1

$ 2,000

 

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.

Project outcomes

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.

Conclusion

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.

References

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Leadership in the changing environment

When it comes to COVID-19 and the consequent moves to distant learning, one of the most important lessons to take away, according to my personal experience, is the significance of conscious insight of leaders of an organization into future trend. Only based on a leader’s insight into unforeseeable conditions, can an organization make plans and response to changes in an orderly and appropriate way. Unfortunately, the first 2 months after the outbreak of the epidemic, my institution were confronted with the lack of practical implementation plan on how to initiate online model for all courses immediately; the supposed plan of digital learning stay applicable on paper to a large extent. Problems regarding this include the insufficient rehearsal and training of instructors, an incompatible learning platform for various tools, and inadequate space and bandwidth to support the operation of multiple courses simultaneously; all these impediments of implementation lead to enormous pressure on participants from platform designers, IT supportive staff and instructors. Based on this lesson, I am convinced that it is the change leadership that plays a key role for organizations to be open to innovation and therefore embrace new challenges – as claimed in the theory of Biech (2007) on getting ready for change, who believe that managing change effectively is the single most important element in organizational success.

According to the readings listed in the unit, the very model that I believe best align with my approach to leading in a digital learning environment is the theory of Lalonde (2011) on ongoing change in reference with an organization’s openness and leading strategy, who argue that an open institution is build by constant change to adapt to revolutionary context and it creates a strategy of continuous learning that embeds in the culture of an organization. Relating this to the inadequate response of my institution to COVID 19, the importance of infusing changing leadership in the culture of a company is once again emphasized. Meanwhile, I will also take some ideas from Biech (2007) about introducing change, one effective option being selecting a change implementation team should early to initiate the change. Given the complex and time-consuming feature of change, an early preparation on action plan, staff and technology is of paramount importance.

As for the role of leadership in managing change, I totally agree with the claim argued by Soderholm (1989) that leadership is the catalyst stimulating innovation and new concepts, who brings new desirable achievements of an organization. Also, it is the entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation embedded leadership that are of particular value to manage change successfully (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015).

Given the above reflection, it seems to me that the unique challenges in managing change for learning in digital environments is appropriate leadership that can provide profonde insight into the future trend of the environment, and make response to changes in a practical way. As mentioned by Winston (2004), it is leaders who sit behind the driving wheel of organizations; they are the only ones who can provide the quick response needed in the changing environment (Goleman, 2000).

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2). https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

Biech, E. T. A.-T. T.-. (2007). Thriving through change : a leader’s practical guide to change mastery LK  – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/827944889 (NV-1 o). ASTD Press. http://www.books24x7.com/marc.asp?bookid=22651

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets Results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2).

Lalonde, C. (2011). Managing crises through organisational development: A conceptual framework. Disasters, 35(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01223.x

Soderholm, L. G. (1989). Needed: Engineering Leadership. Design News, 45(13).

Winston, A. W. (2004). Engineering management – A personal perspective. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 51(4). https://doi.org/10.1109/TEM.2004.836586

Leadership Reflection

[Photograph of Leadership]. (n.d.). https://sixandahalfconsulting.com/blog/we-need-a-better-word-for-leadership/

As for my most admired approach of a leader, it is the reflective leadership that I admire most. With reference to the group rating on Characteristics of Admired Leaders ratings, the tops 3 qualities featuring a good leader in initial rating (competent, Dependable, supportive), from my understanding, all align with the attributes described in reflective leadership. According to Castelli, (2016), a reflective leader can be of paramount value in optimizing the operation and performance of an institute, if he or she possess the needed expertise and knowledge in his or her professional realms. Apart from that, the principle on which the reflective leadership theory is based is another key point that wins my heart, namely the consciousness of behaviors, situations and outcomes that aim to streamline organizational performance (Castelli, 2016).

When it come to the most appropriate leadership approach in the digital environment, I would say both reflective and adaptive leadership seem to be equally effective in leading change. From my perspective, I believe that in the digitalized age, the success of an organization is subjective not only to its intrinsic factors within the organization, but also depends on extrinsic variables in the external environment, whether these be competency of leaders, the goals of a company, or the up-to-minute trends in the market. Based on this, the discussion can than move on to handle questions as to how a qualified leader overcome impediments embedded in both domains – this is where the characteristics of reflective and adaptive leadership have roles to play.

While features of reflective leadership such as self-awareness, raising the self-esteem and confidence levels of followers aim to streamline the performance of the organization, adaptive leadership works to align the goals of an educational institution with the whitewater digital environment that involves various determinants that may impacts leaders (e.g. cultural, societal factors) (Glover et al., 2002).

As for the difference between my leadership ranking results with the findings of other leadership researchers, the feature of Broad Minded is ranked the top 1 on my list, whereas other members in my team give priority to Competency or Dependable. The very reason why I venerate broad mindedness over the other characteristics is also identical to the value of open communication indicated by reflective leadership. From my personal working experiences, it is difficult to expect a leader to be versatile in all aspects, he can always seek for support from followers with different expertise when needed, providing he or she has an open mind to accept different suggestions. Also, the broad mindedness also means the willingness to embrace renovation and accept innovative ideas, which is also the key attribute described in adaptive leadership (Khan, 2017).

 

Finally, for the missing from leadership literature in reference to the digital environment, I will look forward to see more discussion on how to dealing with cultural diversity within an organization, as the Internet has connected leaders with a wider range of followers across the globe, thus leading to more undesired consequences during work.

 

References

Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. In Journal of Management Development (Vol. 35, Issue 2). https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112

Glover, J., Rainwater, K., Jones, G., & Friedman, H. (2002). Adaptive leadership (part two): Four principles for being adaptive LK  – https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/5399994983. Organization Development Journal TA  – TT  –, 20(4), 18–38.

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or transactional leadership in current higher education: A brief comparison. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 18(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i3.3294