LRNT 525 Activity 1 | Managing Change for Learning in Digital Environments

Note: Leadership in this blog is defined the formal role as in management. I chose to use this definition as I found most of the readings for this unit define leadership in this way, though I do recognize leadership is not necessarily a role, but a mindset (Sarder, 2015).

There are constant initiatives that I have seen in my career as a healthcare worker as well as an educator and I have been in the game long enough to be skeptical about investing in proposed change schemes; and I use the word “scheme” deliberately. I have worked in medium to small hospitals and now work at a small vocational college and sadly more times than I can count, I see people in leadership use their positions to used change initiatives to inflate their resume in these smaller institutions to move on to “bigger and better” things. Then the revolving door of leadership results in the previous change being undone or never followed through.  I do not often see success when change is attempted, which is supported by Al-Haddad and Kotnour’s (2015) findings that the success rate of change initiatives is less than 30%.

That is not to say, I do not like being involved in change, but I focus on change that is in my control with my immediate team, which I have enjoyed multiple successful change projects. Most recently is (fairly) successful transition of six previously lecture based courses to the digital online environment.

  1. How have the theories/models for change adapted to take into consideration our current technological, economic, and societal contexts? As we consider the rapid responses that have been required due to COVID-19 and the large-scale moves to remote learning and working, what lessons can we take away about introducing rapid change. What lessons did you learn in your own context?

Adopting a culture of accepting change as inevitable seemed to be significant to adapting to the rapid responses required due to COVID-19. Those who had already adopted this mindset had less of a learning curve than others who had not.

  1. Which theories/models do you think best align with your own approach to leading in a digital learning environment? Do these approaches align with your organizational context? Thinking again about how quickly shifts can occur, what ideas about introducing change would you take into future planning?

The theories/models that resonated with me were ones that considered a bottom-up approach such as the emergent change approach (Antwi & Kale, 2013). Specifically, for change in a healthcare context, the Canada Health Infoway Change Management Framework (inspired by Lewin), recognizes education and training as part of the change management process, which is not considered in other frameworks or change management theories (Antwi & Kale, 2013). Inadequate training, in my experience has been a key reason for resistance to a change initiative so I appreciate that this is considered in this framework.  I also liked the participatory action research (PAR) that considers input and involves the people that will be involved in the change. (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015)

  1. What role does leadership play in managing change?

My above stated skepticism of institutionally run change initiatives may be because it is often “top down” type of initiatives in very traditional and hierarchical environments. I like the leadership role proposed by Antwi and Kale (2013) regarding the emerging change model, which states the role of those in leadership positions, such as managers “must cede some of the decision-making authority to employees and act as facilitators of change as opposed to controllers of change”.

4.What are the unique challenges in managing change for learning in digital environments?

I think managing change is always challenging and complex.  Managing change in the digital learning environment might have different details, but I do not think there is a specific uniqueness to its challenges. The need for all involved in a change to “buy in” seems to be particularly significant in many of the models in the readings such as the Kotter model (Al-Haddad & Koutnour, 2015), regardless of if the change in the digital environment or not.



Al-Haddad, S. and Kotnour, T. (2015), Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 234-262.

Antwi, M., & Kale, M. (2014). Change Management in Healthcare: Literature Review, (January), 1–35.

Sarder, R. (Producer). (2015). What makes a great leader?  by Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline

4 thoughts on “LRNT 525 Activity 1 | Managing Change for Learning in Digital Environments

  1. Hi Shelley,

    I am glad you found the Anti & Kale (2013) model relevant – their analysis of the different organizational elements needed for change resonate with me and my own personal experience as well. In your post you share a recent successful experience where you were able to move “six previously lecture based courses to the digital online environment.” What made this shift successful (from a change perspective?) Did your approach (or steps you followed) align with any of the suggested models in the literature?

    I didn’t see this post in Feedly and noticed that you left it uncategorized. If you add the LRNT 525 category (I believe it is a drop-down menu quite far down on the right side widgets when you are authoring) then it will make it into the feeds.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for the reminder about tagging-I usually do, I just forgot.

      I didn’t see any specific model that fits our change of six lecture based courses to digital online. Perhaps what fits best is the mindset behind Luecke (1990) where accepting the need and urgency for change and seeing change as opportunity and not a threat allows it to succeed and get into org culture-addresses the different reactions of employees to change. The core faculty have a background in x-ray that has experience significant technology change (film to digital) in the past 20 years so that was already ingrain in the “culture” to accept change and see opportunities that helped with embracing change.

  2. Hi Shelly,
    Did you find it difficult to implement change within the digital learning environments? Both of us coming from health care it is interesting to see another perspective. I found that we lacked transparency and leadership from our leadership team and there was a lot of resistance in making changes to our curiculum.

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    Rambling response coming:

    We have found in our program that leadership was extremely behind where we were on the digital learning environment and didn’t really know how to manage it so we just did our thing (ask for forgiveness later was our motto). We have been using the DLE for many years such as video to supplement content. We just had to beef it up with no lecture classes. In medical terms, we saw it as a triage situation and focused on the what made things the easiest for us and the students. For instance, we embraced open book exams because invigilating in class wasn’t possible in COVID.

    Some of us were concerned that we would have high attrition due to lack of in person support (we had lab/clinic but nothing else on campus), but surprisingly our attrition was lower for fall 2020 than ANY previous fall term in the past 9 years!. This was due to a lot of extra effort and creatively from the faculty that were open to change. We even see opportunities to continue with some things post COVID (like more blending learning) I think it really comes down to mindset and being open to the change and not being scared of technology. X-ray in healthcare (and other imaging like sonography) I think have a bit of a different mindset on change. Our imaging technology changes frequently so that kind of mentality that “tech will change things and is inevitable” is already in the culture-many not so much in other healthcare sectors, though I know dental went through this a bit as well with the shift from film to digital x-rays. Also for me, coming to education 10 years ago, there was already an incorporation of ed tech that was encourage by our centre for teaching and learning. They said we had to use Moodle, so we did! It was only after speaking to more experience educations at the institution that we learned it was instructor discretion. I can see why long time educators may not have seen the need for digital resources or that they were “nice to have”-which worked fine, until COVID. Now having to catch up is a huge learning curve!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.