Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Managing Learning Technology for Change

The Challenge: If you had the opportunity to implement change at your institution or within a professional community, how would you foster, enable, inspire, implement and manage this change? Think of this as the next step to your action research. You will go back to the planning phase of your research and think about what next problem you are going to tackle or how you might tackle this same problem in a new way. Ultimately this class is intended to help you push your leadership skills to the next level.

Assignments:

Identify opportunity for change and those participating in the project.

Improve communication within Wested's infrastructure by creating effective intergroup collaborations.

Write a one page summary of the opportunity for change and the impact it will have on the setting within which it will take place.


CHANGE PROJECT SUMMARY - by Kathleen Lepori

The Challenge: Improve communication within WestEd’s infrastructure by creating effective intergroup collaborations.

The Opportunity for Change: Ineffective communication is a major obstacle to business productivity. Our current system of communication at WestEd, according to employee polls, is inadequate which has resulted in unclear and missed communications. We are experience major growth in our organization and are still using the same communications systems and processes as in place before the growth. Facing the challenges of a larger company, a new method of communicating with each other is required.

Reciprocality is the essence of communication. In order to improve internal communication within WestEd, I would like to implement more diverse intergroup collaborations. As an agent of change, I would first identify gaps in communication by enlisting the assistance of employees through an anonymous survey. The survey would contain open-ended questions that would help identify personal and organizational pain points in regards to strengths and weaknesses in the existing communication system. Attitudes, behavior, and strategies that can help staff communicate effectively, collaborate easily, and produce results more efficiently can also be explored.

Since WestEd employs only knowledge workers, their input would be highly valued. Surowiecki, in his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, states that collective intelligence has the potential to make a profound difference in the way companies do business (Surowiecki, 2004). Trusting and empowering personnel has the capacity to motivate and bring about change quickly (DeMarco, 2001). Inviting employees to ascertain better ways to communicate would be a vital, next step in my action research change project.

Impact: The possibility of stimulating intergroup collaboration with colleagues is a challenging and much needed undertaking. Much can be gained from this important venture; resource sharing, research and development, recruitment efforts, collaborative writing, and a deeper understanding of WestEd’s work and mission.

Open dialogue advances intergroup collaboration toward personal and social responsibility that can have lasting positive effects. Many of WestEd’s employees work in isolation from cubicles in the San Francisco headquarters to home offices throughout the United States. Management must embrace the challenge of formulating strategies that would encourage personnel to communicate effectively. Having a mechanism in place, with the management team confirming its worth, would have a dramatic impact on the way our company does business in the future.

As we look towards the future growth and expansion, informal and formal communication between staff members will be a high priority in our organization. Developing a practice of ongoing communication will help cultivate trust and confidence and inspire employees to be actively involved in helping the organization to succeed and prosper. I believe these changes have the potential to make a profound difference in the way we do business.

References:
DeMarco, T. (2002). Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency. Broadway Books: New York.
Surowiecki, J. (2005). The Wisdom of Crowds. Anchor Books: New York.

Evaluate the learning context of the change. What learning will need to take place and by whom? How will you address the learning needs and challenges?

CONTEXT OF CHANGE SUMMARY

Evaluate the learning context of the change:

In order to improve communication within WestEd’s infrastructure, change can be brought about by creating effective intergroup collaborations. Social constructivist theories of communication will be practiced in an effort to engage employees in resourceful, collaborative activities.

What learning will need to take place and by whom?

Personal learning: I will need to learn how to become an effective leader and agent of change in our organization. I will learn better ways of sharing resources more effectively and in the process gain a deeper understanding of WestEd’s culture, work and mission.

Employee learning: WestEd employees will learn in how to work together in small informal groups facilitated by peer leaders. They will learn how to overcome fear of new technologies by supporting each other in intergroup collaborations.

How will you address the learning needs and challenges?

1. Posting an anonymous employee online suggestion box. Using polling sidebar software, employees can post questions or comments and receive feedback of how other employees accept or reject their ideas. All information can be archived for future reference.

2. Employee engagement surveys. Offering employees an opportunity to take online anonymous surveys is one of the best methods for discovering how an employee feels about their work, workplace environment and a host of other potential problem areas.

3. Create a whiteboard for questions and answers: Having a central online whiteboard where any employee can write a question and get an answer almost immediately.

4. Establish a Knowledge Bank. This would be a collection of gathered information that employees can access 24 hours a day. The Knowledge Bank would contain pertinent information that would help an employee with nearly any aspect of their job.

5. Sharing new technologies. New technologies are constantly being developed. Staying on top of recent developments can help WestEd employees communicate and work together more efficiently. For instance, Google just recently announced Google Wave. This is an open source browser where people can work on documents synchronically.

Identify the resources needed for the change. Make list of resources that includes description, value to the project and approximate cost (this list will include people).

RESOURCES NEEDED FOR CHANGE

Create effective intergroup collaborations.

Creating intergroup collaborations (IC) will take active engagement by all twelve, program managers and their associated staff. A facilitator should be chosen from each of WestEd’s programs to act as liaison between their department and other WestEd departments. They will provide updates on their program’s current and ongoing projects to the WestEd community. It will be the responsibility of the twelve facilitators as to how to best form effective intergroup collaborations. Facilitators should have bi-weekly meetings in order to stay abreast of special needs, program demands and modifications to the IC’s. The value added will be opportunity to improve and enhance understanding among our increasingly diverse programs. Hopefully, these intergroup collaborations will encourage employees from various programs to contribute to the collective knowledge and depth of understanding that is WestEd’s greatest asset. The time factor to form these groups, train the facilitators and the ongoing exchange of information will be offset by the benefits that will be yielded as a result of knowledge sharing.

Posting an anonymous employee online suggestion box.

Polling sidebar software such as PollDaddy Pro can be purchased for $200 year and be placed on the WestEd’s Employee home page. This continuous polling site would function as a way for employees to daily communicate ideas, suggestions, questions and answers, etc. WestEd employees could then “vote” or “rate” the posted item with the ability to see the results of the poll immediately. This would empower workers as stakeholders in their organization and would give management and policyholders the capacity to see how employees feel about any given circumstance or condition.

Employee engagement surveys.

Online surveys can mechanize collated data that can be instantly analyzed thereby providing management with an effective method to help bring about a more satisfying work environment. Emphasizing anonymity for employee participation is an excellent way of reaching a consensus, understanding a problem, or identifying a need within an organization. Zoomerang’s bulk licensing agreement is an affordable way to perform this task (approximately $350 for the non profit rate). Surveys can bolster moral and be effective in developing employee motivation and productivity.

Create a central whiteboard for questions and answers.

Creating a central online whiteboard in a common, easily accessible area where WestEd staff can place updates, changes in policy, opportunities for training, etc., is indispensible. This can be accomplished quickly and reasonably through WestEd’s existing Wimba Classroom. Training on how to utilize the centralized whiteboard can be accomplished by providing a series of online sessions facilitated by Information Services staff. A percentage of WestEd’s Indirect Fees can provide funds for the access and limited training. There are zero costs for the central whiteboard as WestEd already has Wimba Classroom.

Establish a Knowledge Bank.

The benefits for knowledge sharing include learning as a collaborative, cross-organizational, continuous, and active process. The pursuit of knowledge is intrinsic. Human beings enjoy learning and sharing our insights with others. The Knowledge Bank (accumulated pertinent information) should be housed in a location that can be updated and revised by employees. A TWiki (secure wiki) can be used for this purpose.

Sharing new technologies.

New technologies like Google Wave an open source browser, Apple’s iWork (in beta testing), Cloud computing, etc., can be shared via the Knowledge Bank (KB).

Craft an initial timeline & project plan for to leading and implementing the change.

PROJECT PLAN AND TIMELINE

As we look towards future growth and expansion, informal and formal communication between staff members will be a high priority in our organization. Developing a practice of ongoing communication will help cultivate trust and confidence and inspire employees to be actively involved in helping the organization to succeed and prosper. I believe the following changes have the potential to make a profound difference in the way we do business. A new job position of Intergroup Collaboration Coordinator will be created in order to fulfill much of the responsibilities needed to manage this important change.

TIMELINE FOR CHANGE
Primary Task Sub Tasks Project Lead Start Date Staff Days/hours
Create effective intergroup collaboration (IC)        
  Identify and Train Facilitators IC Project Coordinator 7/13/09 IS staff 8 hrs. & 12 Facilitators 8 hrs.
 
Conduct Bi-Weekly Facilitator Meetings
IC Project Coordinator 8/3/09 2 hrs./mo. Per facilitator Ongoing
Post anonymous employee online suggestion box        
  Purchase & install polling sidebar software on WestEd home page Director of Information Services 7/20/09 IS staff 2 hrs.
  Maintain Polling Questions and dissemination of data IC Project Coordinator 7/24/09 1 hr/week Ongoing
Employee engagement surveys        
  Purchase & install Zoomerang link on WestEd home page Director of Information Services 7/27/09
IS staff 2 hrs.
Create a central whiteboard for questions and answers        
  Create and maintain whiteboard IC Project Coordinator 8/10/09 1 hr/week Ongoing
Establish Knowledge Bank        
  Create and maintain TWiki space IC Project Coordinator 9/24/09 2 hr/week Ongoing
Sharing new technologies        
  Stored and organized in Knowledge Bank IC Project Coordinator 9/24/09 Included in above Ongoing

 

Record a podcast, of no more than 5 minutes in length that discusses your understanding of acting as an agent of change. This should be reflective & in blog-style.

Greetings, my name is Kathleen Lepori. I am recording this podcast as an assignment for a class entitled “Managing Learning Technology for Change” taught by Melissa Anderson. The assignment asks for us to discuss our understanding of what it means to act as an agent of change. My understanding of acting as an agent of change comes from an American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Encarta online dictionary defines a change agent as “somebody or something that brings about, or helps to bring about, change.” I want to be that person who acts as a catalyst to bring real-life change to my workplace. This past year, as a student in Pepperdine University’s Educational Technology master of arts degree program, I have gained a deeper knowledge of what making changes in the external world exemplifies. I have a desire to share as much knowledge as possible that would allow others in my organization to act both independently and collaboratively in order to achieve success. However, change agents, at least in our organization, are usually handled at the senior manager level because of their ability to effect change. Affecting change requires a focus on the change agent. Hopefully, my lower-level managerial position will be secondary and my influence can be realized in the overall change effort. My question then would simply be “What can I do and what should I do, to have a constructive voice in WestEd’s future?” The answer is that I hope to influence and perhaps shape change by putting theories that I’ve learned in the OMET program into practice. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but merely a life-long learner who learns and engages with other people. As an agent of change, I need to adopt the values of honesty, responsibility, humility and love. The goal of my acting as an agent of change is to make people know they can expect the best from me. If people share their knowledge, the value of that knowledge increases for the entire organization. And when individuals share their expertise, they become recognized as a more valuable resource to the organization. I need to learn how to be an effective leader and communicate the importance and need for others to participate in my change and to buy into taking the appropriate actions. Psychologist Jerome Bruner has argued that “The essence of creativity is figuring out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think." Ongoing progressive dialogue is a excellent way of orchestrating external change. When a group participates as coequals, and is actively engaged in learning about a specific topic, communication is looked at as collaborative sharing. I also have learned that storytelling is another affective way of creating change. Telling stories that people can identify with can be a valuable form of building understanding and knowledge. People need a sense of ownership in the change process. My goal therefore is to build an environment of trust and to promote open exchange of ideas, promote honesty and self-respect. I will seek out opportunities for collaboration and inspire teamwork that builds lasting, positive relationships.

Develop/evaluate approaches for managing the ongoing change. Identify 5-10 key principles for managing this change in your setting.

APPROACH FOR MANAGING ONGOING CHANGE

In determining key principles for managing change in any organization, the change agent should have a basic understanding of the systems and structures, including leadership and management, in the context of the change effort. Knowing that it is human nature to resist change, or fear of the unknown, is half the battle. Establishing effective communication can help overcome that fear and allow change to occur. And for change to occur, it is important to realize that managing people is indeed managing feelings. The participants in this change need to have:

* An informed awareness of the need for change
* A commitment to support the change
* Possess the wherewithal to make the necessary changes
* And have the skills to make changes occur

Although I list, in this assignment, several principles for managing change, one of the major principles of managing change is being prepared. There is a series of steps or stages that need to be aligned, and probing questions to be answered, before taking on the proposed action for change.

Stage 1 – Getting ready for change

What is the change that is needed? The proposed change needs to be identified and shared with all stakeholders.

How will the change be promoted? It is important for buy-in that all stakeholders and decision makers have a clear understanding of the benefits of the proposed change. It should be well defined as to why this important and needed change will occur. Change usually is introduced as a means to increase performance. Most employees desire to increase their performance and better their practice, and if they are made aware that this change proposes to do just that then it is highly probable that the proposed change will be successful.

How will the proposed change be implemented? This can range from a simple non-evasive procedure to a complex, company-wide implementation in which all employees are involved. It is imperative that all stakeholders are aware of how the change will be initiated.

Stage 2 – Implementing the change

How will employees be involved in the change? It is human nature to know how something will affect them. Knowing what role they play in the process of change is vital to employee buy-in and trust.

What form of communication will be available to answer questions and concerns? The importance of open communication cannot be stressed enough in trying to implement change. Employees should be made aware that open communication and ongoing dialogue is key to the success of the proposed change. They need to be told that they play a vital role in understanding the successes or failures of the multiple steps necessary to implement the change efficiently.

How and what kind of training will be offered? With almost all changes training must take place. This training should be presented as an opportunity to grow with the company and they grow and learn. Knowing how much training and when it should be offered can make a huge difference in how well the change is accepted and employed.

Stage 3 – Sustaining the change

Was the change effective? Follow-up data in the form of post surveys and personal interviews (employee feedback) can be extremely beneficial in knowing how effective the change was and what kind of a difference has it made to the employees and ultimately to the organization as a whole.

What is the plan of action for keeping employees aware of ongoing updates and revisions to the change that was implemented? Maintaining ongoing dialog with stakeholders is good business. It keeps management aware of any problems and or solutions to the change that has been implemented. By hosting an online “suggestion box,” employees can anonymously post their concerns, questions and suggestions without fear of retaliation. As well, management should have a community whiteboard in which employees can readily access where they can read about updates and current revisions.

As the final stage of your Change Project, you will write a reflection paper of no more than 6 pages (double spaced, 12 pt font). The above project stages can be completed as a group, however the final reflection paper must be written individually by every student in the course. This should be posted to your portfolio at the end of the trimester. Due: 7/19

Your reflection paper should include answers to three questions as well as a brief summary of the situation and the work resulting from the stages of the project as appendices.

* In acting as an agent of change in this situation, what will be the most important actions for you to take?
* Through the readings, discussions with others in class, additional research and guest lecture sessions, what key themes to change management apply most to your change situation?
* What is your personal vision for change management- how do you see yourself growing into the role of change agent and leader?

FINAL DELIVERABLE REFLECTION PAPER

• In acting as an agent of change in this situation, what will be the most important actions for you to take?

Given the opportunity to implement change at my institution, the question of how would I foster, enable, inspire, implement and manage this change is answered in the following, final reflection.

Having successfully completed my action research project, I have earned some recognition in my workplace as one who can bring about change quickly and effectively. In order to improve internal communication within WestEd, I believe one of the most important actions that I could undertake is to implement more diverse intergroup collaborations (IC). Creating these informal collaborations will take an active engagement by all twelve, program managers and their associated staff. The value added will be opportunity to improve and enhance understanding among our increasingly diverse programs. It is my desire that these intergroup collaborations will encourage employees from various programs to contribute to the collective knowledge. This depth of understanding is what constitutes WestEd’s greatest asset.

As an agent of change, I would first identify gaps in communication by enlisting the assistance of employees through an anonymous survey. The survey would contain open-ended questions that would help identify personal and organizational pain points in regards to strengths and weaknesses in the existing system of communication. Attitudes, behaviors, and strategies that can help staff communicate effectively, collaborate easily, and produce results more efficiently, can and should also be explored.

Maintaining ongoing dialog with stakeholders is simply good business. It keeps both management and non-management staff aware of any problems and or solutions to the change that has been implemented. By posting an online “suggestion box,” employees can anonymously post their concerns, questions and suggestions without fearing retaliation. As well, management should host a community whiteboard in which employees can readily access where they can read about updates and current revisions.

• Through the readings, discussions with others in class, additional research and guest lecture sessions, what key themes to change management apply most to your change situation?

The study of human and organizational behavior acknowledges that successful change is based on redesigning and reinterpreting existing norms and values and developing commitment to new ones. In bringing about effective, long-term change, it is the change agent’s responsibility to achieve permanent acceptance. This can be accomplished by using persuasion instead of force. Open dialogue, a form of persuasion, advances intergroup collaboration toward personal and social responsibility that can have lasting positive effects. Surowiecki, in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds,” states that collective intelligence has the potential to make a profound difference in the way companies do business (Surowiecki, 2004). Trusting and empowering personnel has the capacity to motivate and bring about change quickly (DeMarco, 2001). Inviting employees to ascertain better ways to communicate would be a vital, next step in my action research change project.

In determining key principles for managing change in any organization, the change agent should have a basic understanding of the systems and structures, including leadership and management, in the context of the change effort. Recognizing that it is human nature to resist change, or fear of the unknown, is half the battle. Establishing effective communication can help overcome that fear and allow change to occur. And for change to occur, it is important to realize that managing people is indeed managing feelings.

It is important for buy-in that all stakeholders and decision makers have a clear understanding of the benefits of the proposed change. It should be well defined as to why and how this important, and sorely needed change will occur. Change usually is introduced as a means to increase performance. Most employees desire to increase their performance and better their practice if they are made aware that this change proposes to do just. Then it is highly probable that the proposed change will be successful. As Gladwell so aptly explains this concept in his book Outliers, “Achievement is talent plus preparation” (Gladwell, 2008, p. 38). WestEd employees have talent but in order to achieve the adaption to change, they must be well prepared. This preparation can range in scale from a simple non-evasive procedure to a complex, company-wide implementation in which all employees are involved in the action being implemented. It is imperative that all stakeholders are aware of exactly how the change will be initiated and maintained.

• What is your personal vision for change management- how do you see yourself growing into the role of change agent and leader?

The possibility of stimulating intergroup collaboration with colleagues is a challenging and much needed undertaking. Much can be gained from this important venture: resource sharing, research and development, recruitment efforts, collaborative writing, along with a deeper understanding of WestEd’s work and mission. We are experiencing major growth in our organization and we are still using the same communications systems and processes that was in place before the commencement of growth. Facing the challenges of a larger company, a new and better method of communicating with each other has become a necessity.

Management must embrace the challenge of formulating strategies that would encourage personnel to communicate effectively. Having a mechanism in place, with the management team confirming its worth, would have a dramatic impact on the way our company does business in the future. As we look towards the future growth and expansion, informal and formal communication between staff members will be a high priority in our organization. Developing a practice of ongoing communication will help cultivate trust and confidence and inspire employees to be actively involved in helping the organization to succeed and prosper. It is human nature to know how something will affect them. Knowing what role they play in the process of change is vital to employee buy-in and trust.

The importance of open communication cannot be stressed enough in trying to implement change. Employees should be made aware that open communication is strongly encouraged and supported and that ongoing dialogue is key to the success of the proposed change. They should be made aware that they play a key part in understanding the successes or failures of the multiple steps necessary to implement the change efficiently.
I believe these proposed actions have the potential to make a profound difference in the way our company does business. In order to realize these lofty goals, I will need to learn how to become an effective leader and attentive agent of change in my organization. I will work diligently to learn better ways of sharing resources more efficiently and in the process gain a deeper understanding of WestEd’s culture, work and mission.

As a change agent, I must recognize that one of the only ways to break through political barriers in my organization is to have good interpersonal skills and offer rational, well-argued analysis that is more difficult to contest than mere insight or know how. The key to managing change is to develop excellent leadership skills that include: being a good listener, effective communicator, constructive decision maker, risk taker, respecter of people and it also means leading by example. In other words, I must be “the wick that tames the fire” of change at WestEd (Carr, 2009, p. 231).

References
Carr, N. G. (2009). The big switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
DeMarco, T. (2002). Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency. New York: Broadway Books.
Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York: Little, Brown & Co.
Surowiecki, J. (2005). The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Anchor Books.

Required reading:

Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

the Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr